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Hanna Wass, Miroslav Nemcok

What to expect when you’re expecting: Preferences for representation among voters and political elites


Abstract Like any reciprocal relationship, representation is filled with expectations. Different types of voters have different types of ideas on how elected politicians should behave in their role as representatives, and what should be considered as the primary focus of representation. Candidates running for elections or MPs already familiar with real-life decision-making situations might have corresponding yet not necessarily matching preferences. The extent to which these expectations overlap is, in turn, pivotal for the process legitimacy of representative democracies. In this review chapter, we bind three strains of literature together. First, we review the findings and implications of those relatively few previous analyses which have examined the question of whether voters and elected representatives have congruent preferences for the style and focus of representation. Second, the concept of representational congruence is discussed from a methodological perspective. Thirdly, we address the implications of voter-elite congruence for citizens’ satisfaction with the performance of democratic regimes. This is followed by a concluding section which looks ahead and asks: What can be expected from the future studies of congruence in representational expectations and preferences?