Lawrence Ezrow

Subconstituency Representation

Who do European parties represent? Are the policies that parties advocate responsive to all segments or subconstituencies within the electorate (defined by affluence, education, political involvement, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, etc), or alternatively, do parties respond to particular groups in society at the expense of others? Addressing these questions uncovers dynamics of political representation in established democracies, and, more specifically, evaluates the extent to which these democracies exhibit representational equality (or inequality).    

The project employs a macro-level methodology that requires collecting and aggregating information on party positions and citizens’ Left-Right positions, and integrating these observations into a comprehensive dataset that can be used to study the representation of numerous subconstituencies (mentioned above).

In essence, the study examines the linkage or correspondence between the policy preferences of citizens on the one hand, and parties on the other. The functioning of this citizen-party linkage is crucial for democracy. A prominent scholar on political parties, Giovanni Sartori, remarked that, “citizens in Western democracies are represented
through and by parties. This is inevitable” (1968, 471, italics original). This study will move us forward in terms of evaluating the degree to which parties are indeed performing one of their main functions of ‘giving voice’ to citizens’ policy preferences.


Related papers:

Adams, James, and Lawrence Ezrow. 2009. “Who do European Parties Represent? How Western European Parties Represent the Policy Preferences of Opinion Leaders.” Journal of Politics 71(1): 206-223. (PDF)

Adams, James, Lawrence Ezrow, and Zeynep Somer-Topcu. 2011. “Is Anybody Listening? Evidence That Voters Do Not Respond to European Parties’ Policy Statements During Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 55(2): 370-382. (PDF)

Ezrow, Lawrence, Catherine E. De Vries, Marco Steenbergen, and Erica E. Edwards. 2011. “Mean Voter Representation and Partisan Constituency Representation: Do Parties Respond to the Mean Voter Position or to their Supporters?” Party Politics 17(3): 275-301. (PDF