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Party preference representation

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Abstract

Political parties are key actors in electoral democracies: they organize the legislature, form governments, and citizens choose their representatives by voting for them. How citizens evaluate political parties and how well the parties that citizens evaluate positively perform thus provide useful tools to estimate the quality of representation from the individual’s perspective. We propose a measure that can be used to assess party preference representation at both the individual and aggregate levels, both in government and in parliament. We calculate the measure for over 160,000 survey respondents following 111 legislative elections held in 38 countries. We find little evidence that the party preferences of different socio-economic groups are systematically over or underrepresented. However, we show that citizens on the right tend to have higher representation scores than their left-wing counterparts. We also find that whereas proportional systems do not produce higher levels of representation on average, they reduce variance in representation across citizens.

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... Moreover, a comparison across countries and over time discloses additional shortcomings of a simple left-right differentiation. Existing research shows that the national context as well as the moment in time influence the specific meaning of left and right (Blais et al, 2020;de Vries et al, 2013). Secondly, social spending-and attitudes towards it-is not only a function of partisan politics but might be influenced by additional factors. ...
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