How well does the political system represent the public interest? A comparison of voter perceptions in Australia and New Zealand

Bean, Clive S. (2008) How well does the political system represent the public interest? A comparison of voter perceptions in Australia and New Zealand. In Australian Political Studies Association Conference, 6-9 July, Brisbane.

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One of the enduring lines of division and potential conflict within any representative democracy is between the represented and the representatives. Just what do our elected representatives represent? One answer is representation of the views and interests of voters which, collectively, amount to ‘the public interest’. In a representative democracy most citizens are not in a position to represent their own views and interests directly most of the time. Hence we have the democratic institution of elections through which members of parliament are chosen to represent the interests of their constituents. One problem with such collective notions of representation is that different individuals have different interests and thus representing the public interest is no uncomplicated matter. However, the representation of the public interest is arguably as much about process as it is about substance. One of the key aims of this paper is to consider, from the voter’s perspective, how well political institutions, parties and elected representatives appear to behave in ways that are consistent with representing the public interest. A second aim is to see whether perspectives on the public interest diverge substantially according to social and political differences within the public.

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ID Code: 17801
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this paper can be freely accessed online (see hypertext link).
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Public interest, Voter perceptions, Australia, New Zealand, Political system
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLITICAL SCIENCE (160600) > Comparative Government and Politics (160603)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Past > Research Centres > Science Research Centre
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 13 Feb 2009 00:32
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:46

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