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Suppose you are a newly-elected parliament member. You want to faithfully represent your voters, so you want to ask for their opinion on issues discussed in the parliament. If you are in a regional voting system, you can just poll the voters in your region. But if you are in a party-list system, how would you know who your party's voters are? You could try to make a poll among the voters of your party, but then voters of other parties might lie and say that they voted for your party, in order to influence your vote in the parliament.

What are some ways by which a parliament member in a party-list system poll their voters, such that they faithfully represent their opinion in the parliament?

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    How would opinion polls be faithfully representing the voters? Surely the idea of representative democracy is that the candidate says what his policies are, and people who like that vote for him. That should not change in a party-list scheme.
    – Dan
    Feb 21, 2022 at 4:38
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    It is not clear to me how this differs from a single representative constituency situation. Even within a single constituency a) you have no idea which subset of people voted for you and b) your responsibility is to represent all your constituents, not just those that voted for you, which has been as low as 25% in UK General elections and that is of cast votes, not actual eligible voters.
    – Jontia
    Feb 22, 2022 at 8:25
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    @ErelSegal-Halevi do Party list representatives not also have a similar remit to represent those that didn't vote for them? Few party list systems that I'm aware of operate on a whole country basis, so there is still variability across the regions within a party list.
    – Jontia
    Feb 22, 2022 at 9:12
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    @Ben: That bit is fairly easy to answer. In a multi-party system, some parties may have a strong ideological basis and choose purity over votes. Many Green parties are small for this reason.
    – MSalters
    Feb 22, 2022 at 16:25
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    Some party list systems have a regional element, where people are elected for a region and will represent people in that region. But even in a first-past-the-post system, members of parliament are supposed to represent all their constituents, not just people who vote for them (particularly when it comes to things that aren't directly linked to party political issues, e.g. supporting local business and culture, helping victims of crime and injustice, etc).
    – Stuart F
    Feb 22, 2022 at 16:41

1 Answer 1

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If you have been elected on a party platform, the voters have chosen you based on that platform, and the traditions of your party. So if you have been elected on a platform that promises tax reductions, and under the banner of a party that traditionally holds a "centre-right" position, then you are expected by your voters to represent them by voting for tax cuts and for legislation that is consistent with the "centre-right" position.

You have chosen to be on the party list because you believe in that platform and the party. If you are a socialist, then don't join a conservative party! As a representative it is now up to you and your colleagues to decide what your party stands for as new issues come up. You should do so in a way that is consistent with the principles and philosophy of your party.

You are not expected, and indeed should not be conducting your own polls. Your task is to represent. This means that you have been elected on a platform and a set of principles. If you mindlessly vote the way that your opinion polling says is the most popular at any time, you are failing as a politician. Your job is to work with your party to develop policies that are right for your constituents (which in the case of party-list members means the whole country) If you only vote according to whatever is currently popular, you could be replaced by a robot!

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  • Suppose I was elected on a platform that supports tax reductions. Now, there is an unexpected situation that, in my opinion, is an emergency situation that requires tax increase. But I promised tax reductions. The fairest solution would be to ask my voters whether they agree that it is an emergency that justifies tax increase. But I cannot approach my voters.. Feb 21, 2022 at 22:24
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    No, you should consult your party and your conscience. Your voters have elected you to make this sort of decision. That is what being a representative and not a robot means.
    – James K
    Feb 21, 2022 at 22:42
  • I'm not sure if all parties believe that they should create policies specifically for their constituents, all of them and nobody else. E.g. some anti-immigrant parties may believe that some of those constituents should not even be constituents. But the basic idea stands - how a party forms policy is very much a party decision, not that of an individual politician.
    – MSalters
    Feb 22, 2022 at 16:35
  • Indeed. If you're elected by 40% of voters, why would you only be interested in what the 40% thinks, when you could be getting votes from the other 60% as well as the 40%. (Many of the 40% may be floating voters who will be appealed to in the same way as the 60%, and if they're not - if they'll vote for you regardless of how bad you are - it doesn't actually matter what you do.)
    – Stuart F
    Feb 22, 2022 at 16:48
  • @StuartF Suppose 40% vote for party A and 60% vote for party B. Suppose all the PMs of party A poll the entire population. Then, all voters of party A will vote according to the majority opinion (of the party B voters), so the 40% who voted for party A will have no representation in the parliament. This is against the idea of proportional representation. Feb 22, 2022 at 20:13

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