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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics Events & Colloquium

EPS seminar series - PIETER DE WILDE: 'Influential Unelected Representatives and Satisfaction with Democracy: Evidence from a Cross-National Survey Experiment'

When:We 14-02-2024 17:00 - 18:00
Where:Room 1315.0043, Harmonie building

This event is part of the Seminar Series of the theme group European Politics and Society.


When activists act as unelected representatives by voicing political demands on behalf of self-articulated constituencies, does this affect the political support of citizens for democracy? We develop a theoretical argument that such an effect might be established if and when such individuals constitute an effective channel of representation. That is when (1) activists substantively represent individuals and (2) the activist is in a position to influence policy. Furthermore, we theorize that such effects are stronger for politically marginalized individuals. We test this through a preregistered vignette experiment in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Romania (N = 8196). We find a modest but significant effect. When unelected representatives present an effective channel of representation, satisfaction with democracy increases. In addition, electoral losers become less dissatisfied with how democracy works when they witness unelected representatives voicing their opinions. Thus, involving unelected representatives in politics can influence citizens’ political support.