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Substantive and Descriptive Representation in Swiss Cantons


Bühlmann, Marc; Feh Widmer, Antoinette; Schädel, Lisa (2010). Substantive and Descriptive Representation in Swiss Cantons. Swiss Political Science Review, 16(3):565-595.

Abstract

Representation is crucial for democracy: good representation helps to increase responsiveness, foster electoral turnout, increase political interest and include minorities. However, what good representation should be is debated. In this contribution we distinguish the substantive and the descriptive approach of representation. While the two forms start from different normative assumptions, they both suggest the same impact of high degrees of representation: increased political interest, higher electoral participation and better minority inclusion. We examine the degree of representation of cantonal citizens in the Swiss national parliament. Our results suggest that the cantons differ concerning substantive and descriptive representation. The two forms seem to be mutually exclusive. Testing for the different impacts, the results suggest a better performance of descriptive representation fostering political interest and weakening the attenuating impact of gender on the formation of political interest. Our contribution should be understood as a tentative draft for a more in-depth analysis of political representation in Switzerland.

Representation is crucial for democracy: good representation helps to increase responsiveness, foster electoral turnout, increase political interest and include minorities. However, what good representation should be is debated. In this contribution we distinguish the substantive and the descriptive approach of representation. While the two forms start from different normative assumptions, they both suggest the same impact of high degrees of representation: increased political interest, higher electoral participation and better minority inclusion. We examine the degree of representation of cantonal citizens in the Swiss national parliament. Our results suggest that the cantons differ concerning substantive and descriptive representation. The two forms seem to be mutually exclusive. Testing for the different impacts, the results suggest a better performance of descriptive representation fostering political interest and weakening the attenuating impact of gender on the formation of political interest. Our contribution should be understood as a tentative draft for a more in-depth analysis of political representation in Switzerland.

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2 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:27 Feb 2011 11:46
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:33
Publisher:Swiss Political Science Association
ISSN:1424-7755
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:10.1002/j.1662-6370.2010.tb00441.x

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