Study Shows Divergences Between Voters and Elected Officials

Published: Friday, Sep 8th 2023, 12:40

Updated At: Friday, Oct 13th 2023, 14:12

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Politicians often struggle to accurately gauge the preferences of their electorate, according to a study conducted by the University of Geneva last spring. The study, reported on by the Tribune de Genève on Friday, surveyed more than 4600 citizens and 124 members of the National Council and 27 members of the Council of States. The survey asked questions about topics such as the retirement age, adoption of children by same-sex couples, and the purchase of new fighter jets. The comparison of answers showed that politicians had difficulty correctly predicting the level of support for a particular proposal. In 29 percent of cases, they were unable to accurately gauge the opinion of their electorate. Furthermore, the parliamentarians systematically overestimated the conservatism of their electorate, both in terms of taxation and social policy, such as immigration. The study also found that parliamentarians tended to project their own preferences onto the electorate, mistakenly assuming that their views would be shared. However, their estimates were more accurate when it came to core issues of their party. Additionally, direct democracy appears to be an important source of information for office holders: when a topic has been put to a vote in the past five years, their estimates were more precise. This was especially true when the vote was close and the party of the respondent narrowly lost.nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn


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