An Alternative to Representation: Preferences for Citizens As Political Decision-Makers in Germany

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Sergiu Gherghina , Political Science, Goethe University Frankfurt
Brigitte Geissel , Political Science, Goethe University Frankfurt
In recent decades increasing attention is dedicated in the literature to citizens’ preferences for alternative models of political decision-making. Most of these studies either tried to describe these preferences or to link them with political behavior. However, it only marginally referred to who these citizens are and why they display a certain preference. To partially address this void in the literature, our paper investigates the determinants of preferences for citizens as decision-makers by using individual-level data from a survey conducted in autumn 2014 on a probability representative sample in Germany. The survey answers indicate that almost one quarter of the respondents (approximately 700) have a clear preference towards citizens as decision-makers while the rest either favor representative / expert democracy or have mixed preferences. Our paper tests the extent to which interest in politics, media consumption, civic engagement, and socio-economic status (SES) can explain the preference for citizens as decision-makers. The results indicate that low satisfaction with democracy, a heavy critique of the Parliament as the main law-making body, and high interest in politics are more likely to favor the preference for citizens as decision-makers. At the same time, the SES factors do not play a role in this preference, i.e. rich people, less educated and older do not prefer citizens as decision-makers.