Robert Rohrschneider, born in Aurich, Germany, in 1959. Ph.D. from Florida State University, Tallahassee. Sir Robert Worcester Distinguished Professor of Public Opinion and Survey Research at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Fellow (1 September 2008 – 30 June 2009)
POLITICAL REPRESENTATION AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
I worked on a book-length study of political representation in Europe which addresses three general questions. First, to what extent do parties account for the preferences of European voters? Second, what conditions help or hinder representation? Can we identify conditions under which parties are more effective in representing citizens, such as a country’s institutions, the character of parties, or the characteristics of voters? Third, does party representation work equally well in the more mature democracies of Western Europe as in the newer ones in Central and Eastern Europe? During the year at NIAS, I uncovered some evidence that representation through parties works effectively both in Western and, surprisingly, Central and Eastern Europe. But there are also several signs of strain. First, parties represent loyal citizens more effectively than unaligned voters. Second, traditional party organisations – such as parties with large memberships – that in the past dominated European party systems but which are now much weaker, are the most effective agents of representation. Third, mass party organisations do not contribute to representation in Central Eastern Europe. All told, the results point to the difficulties that parties have in representing citizens in Europe.