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Polls as public-politic linkage: A comparative analysis of poll use and roles of MPs in parliamentary debate


Petersen, J; Hardmeier, S; Wüest, B (2008). Polls as public-politic linkage: A comparative analysis of poll use and roles of MPs in parliamentary debate. Journal of Legislative Studies, 14(3):315-338.

Abstract

Opinion polls as a linkage mechanism between the public and politics have rarely been examined in a parliamentary context. In our comparative study (Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) we analyse if and how polls are invoked by MPs with different roles in parliamentary debates. Focusing on three theo- retical aspects (responsiveness, populism and deliberation), we find that polls are indeed invoked to bring the views of the public into parliamentary debate to some degree, but they are also often used merely to support policies already developed in the political realm. Fears of the populist effect of polls are exaggerated; polls, in fact, have a positive influence on the discursive quality of parliament. Looking at par- liamentary roles, we find very different patterns of poll use: while MPs oriented towards their constituencies use polls in the most direct and participatory vein, others mediate public opinion as displayed by polls through different institutions (the party, the parliament) or through expertise.

Opinion polls as a linkage mechanism between the public and politics have rarely been examined in a parliamentary context. In our comparative study (Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) we analyse if and how polls are invoked by MPs with different roles in parliamentary debates. Focusing on three theo- retical aspects (responsiveness, populism and deliberation), we find that polls are indeed invoked to bring the views of the public into parliamentary debate to some degree, but they are also often used merely to support policies already developed in the political realm. Fears of the populist effect of polls are exaggerated; polls, in fact, have a positive influence on the discursive quality of parliament. Looking at par- liamentary roles, we find very different patterns of poll use: while MPs oriented towards their constituencies use polls in the most direct and participatory vein, others mediate public opinion as displayed by polls through different institutions (the party, the parliament) or through expertise.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:1 September 2008
Deposited On:22 Oct 2008 06:59
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:28
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1357-2334
Publisher DOI:10.1080/13572330802259509
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3950

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