Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Representation in Context: Election Laws and Ideological Congruence Between Citizens and Governments

  • G. Bingham Powell (a1)

Democratic theory assumes that successful democratic representation will create close ideological congruence between citizens and their governments. The success of different types of election rules in creating such congruence is an ongoing target of political science research. As often in political science, a widely demonstrated empirical finding, the greater congruence associated with proportional representation election rules, has ceased to hold. I suggest that systematically taking account in our theories of conditional effects of local context can often provide a remedy. The systematic incorporation of levels of political party polarization into theory of election laws and ideological congruence extended the temporal and spatial range of the theory. Data from the Comparative Manifesto research program and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) research program are used to test the revised theory empirically. Suggestions for generalizing our theories of political context are offered. The results of this research continue the interactions between substantive research, ongoing political events, and the great normative issues of representation and democracy.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Andre Blais , and Marc A. Bodet . 2006. “Does Proportional Representation Foster Closer Congruence between Citizens and Policymakers?Comparative Political Studies 39: 1243–63.

Gary W. Cox 1990. “Centripetal and Centrifugal Incentives under Alternative Voting Institutions.” American Journal of Political Science 34: 903935.

Gary W. Cox 1997. Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brian F. Crisp , Santiago Olivella , and Joshua D. Potter . 2012. “Electoral Contexts that Impede Voter Coordination.” Electoral Studies 31: 143–58.

Russell J. Dalton 2008. “The Quantity and Quality of Party Systems: Party System Polarization, Its Measurement and Its Consequences.” Comparative Political Studies 41: 899920.

Barnard Grofman . 2004. “Downs and Two-Party Convergence.” Annual Review of Political Science 7: 2546.

HeeMin Kim , and Richard C. Fording . 1998. “Voter Ideology in Western Democracies.” European Journal of Political Research 33: 7397.

HeeMin Kim , and Richard C. Fording . 2002. “Government Partisanship in Western Democracies, 1945–1998.” European Journal of Political Research 41: 187206.

HeeMin Kim , and Richard C. Fording . 2003. “Voter Ideology in Western Democracies: An Update.” European Journal of Political Research 42: 95105.

HeeMin Kim , G. Bingham Powell , and Richard C. Fording . 2010. “Electoral Systems, Party Systems and Ideological Representation.” Comparative Politics 42: 167–86.

Arend Lijphart . 1994. Electoral Systems and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Michael D. McDonald , and Ian Budge . 2005. Elections, Parties, Democracy: Conferring the Median Mandate. New York: Oxford University Press.

Robert G. Moser , and Ethan Scheiner . 2012. Electoral Systems and Political Context: How the Effects of Rules Vary Across New and Established Democracies. New York: Cambridge University Press.

G. Bingham Powell . 2009. “The Ideological Congruence Controversy.” Comparative Political Studies 42: 1475–97.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 46 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 198 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.