Politicians’ perceptions of public opinion: a research programme

22nd March 2023 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia
Alessandra Caldini
Join Stefaan Walgrave as he presents his research in the eleventh 2022-2023 EGPP Seminar Series.

Democracy implies responsiveness, meaning that policies follow to some extent peoples’ policy preferences. Yet, in order for policy makers (politicians) to be able to respond to public opinion, they must know it first. Therefore, politicians’ perceptions of public opinion are a key object of study if one is interested in democratic representation. Drawing on recently published work and using data collected among citizens and politicians of five countries, four related questions are addressed:

  1. Do politicians care about knowing public opinion?
  2. Are their perceptions of public opinion consequential?
  3. Are politicians’ perceptions of public opinion accurate?
  4. And, are politicians’ perceptions of public opinion biased in a certain ideological direction?

Also, a way forward is discussed, and preliminary research results from follow-up work in fourteen countries is presented.