From Theory to Practice: Citizens’ Attitudes about Representation in France
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Journal of Legislative Studies 19 (2): 178–195 (2013)

French institutions, political culture and history have favoured a very abstract conception of representation: MPs are expected to embody collectively the French Nation, but little is known about citizens’ concrete views on representation. In this paper, data gathered through a citizen mass survey are used. To overcome the usual abstract considerations on representation, respondents were asked their opinion on an MP who would endorse amendments proposed by an interest group. In the questionnaire, two features were changed randomly: the MP's political leaning and the type of interest group. It is shown by means of an original experiment that the ‘general’ conception representation has disappeared from citizens’ attitudes: despite the enduring legitimacy of the general will approach in the public sphere, French citizens appear to promote a conception of representation close to the Madisonian views on pluralism involving a strong attachment to the logic of territorial electoral linkage.
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