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The public, the protester, and the bill: do legislative agendas respond to public opinion signals?


Bernardi, Luca; Bischof, Daniel; Wouters, Ruud (2020). The public, the protester, and the bill: do legislative agendas respond to public opinion signals? Journal of European Public Policy, 28(1):289-310.

Abstract

Legislators adapt their policies and agendas to public priorities. Yet research on dynamic representation usually focuses on the influence of public opinion through surveys leaving out other public opinion signals. We incorporate mobilization of the public through protest. Combining insights from social movement studies and political science, we expect protest not to have a direct effect on attention change in legislative agendas. If anything protest should have an amplification effect on public priorities. Using a new and unique data set covering collective action, public opinion and legislative agendas across almost 40 years in four Western democracies, we confirm the effect of public opinion through surveys but find no support for a direct effect of protest. Protest rarely moves legislators: only in very specific issues will protest interact with public priorities and affect attention change in legislative agendas. Our results have important implications for policy representation.

Abstract

Legislators adapt their policies and agendas to public priorities. Yet research on dynamic representation usually focuses on the influence of public opinion through surveys leaving out other public opinion signals. We incorporate mobilization of the public through protest. Combining insights from social movement studies and political science, we expect protest not to have a direct effect on attention change in legislative agendas. If anything protest should have an amplification effect on public priorities. Using a new and unique data set covering collective action, public opinion and legislative agendas across almost 40 years in four Western democracies, we confirm the effect of public opinion through surveys but find no support for a direct effect of protest. Protest rarely moves legislators: only in very specific issues will protest interact with public priorities and affect attention change in legislative agendas. Our results have important implications for policy representation.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Public Administration
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science, Public Administration
Language:English
Date:25 February 2020
Deposited On:14 Sep 2021 15:22
Last Modified:15 Sep 2021 20:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1350-1763
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2020.1729226

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