The thermostatic model

The public, policy and politics 1

Authored by: Christopher Wlezien

The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behaviorand Public Opinion

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138890404
eBook ISBN: 9781315712390
Adobe ISBN:


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Democratic accountability and control require that people are reasonably well-informed about what policymakers do. Consider that an uninformed public is unable to hold policy-makers accountable. Policymakers would have little incentive to represent what the public wants in policy – there would be no real benefit for doing so and no real cost for not doing so. An uninformed public, being unaware of what policymakers have already done, also is unable to guide policy. Policymakers thus would have little basis for representing the public even if they wanted to – expressed public preferences would contain little meaningful information about what the public wants. We clearly need an informed public; effective democracy depends on it.

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