Research Handbook on Political Representation
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Research Handbook on Political Representation

Edited by Maurizio Cotta and Federico Russo

At a time when political representation can be said to be facing its ultimate crisis, this crucial work clarifies the terms of the debate, providing an up-to date analysis of the main conceptual and institutional controversies that have arisen surrounding this topic. Written by leading scholars in the field, contributions focus on how representation is conceptualised and its relation to democracy.
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Chapter 22: Measuring representation: policy congruence

Tom Louwerse and Rudy B. Andeweg


Policy congruence is concerned with the similarity of policy preferences of voters on the one hand and the preferences and actions of representatives on the other hand. This chapter outlines the great diversity in the way policy congruence is studied, in terms of who the representatives are, whether congruence measured on a single ideological dimension, for specific issues or as issue priority, and whether one looks at the entire distribution of preferences of both represented and representatives or reduces them to a single position for each side, such as the median. Explanations of policy congruence have mostly focused on electoral systems. Findings are mixed, with proportional systems generally somewhat stronger in terms of congruence between voters and legislatures, and plurality systems providing a stronger link between legislatures and government’s policies. More recent work focuses on inequalities in policy congruence and the consequences of policy congruence for satisfaction with democracy.

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