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Thomassen, J.J.A.

Thomassen, J.J.A.

Jacques Thomassen, born in Diessen, the Netherlands, in 1945. Ph.D. from Tilburg University. Professor of Political Science at the University of Twente.

Fellow (1 September 2002 – 30 June 2003)

Rudy Andeweg and I have been working on a book on the functioning of representative democracy in the Netherlands. The book is mainly based on interviews held with members of parliament, in 1968, 1972, 1979, 1990, and 2001. However, the main emphasis of the book is not on the Dutch parliament as such, but on theories of representative democracy. We observed a strange and undesirable bifurcation in the study of representative democracy. Reading the literature on legislative behaviour it is as if democracies have two parliaments, one of which is supposed to represent civil society, and one of which is supposed to oversee the government.

It was our aim to develop a new conceptual framework integrating these two bodies of literature, and to apply it to Dutch representative democracy. We succeeded in developing a conceptual framework that logically combines the three main modes of executive-legislative relations with the three main models of political representation. This combination leads to three different models of representative democracy. In the book, we empirically test to what extent each of these models applies to current Dutch representative democracy and compare this to other democracies. We also examine whether these models apply to Dutch democracy in the past.

Several parts of the book were presented as papers at a variety of conferences. Two of these papers, co-authored with Rudy Andeweg, have been submitted to international journals. First drafts of the introductory chapter and of two of the three empirical parts of the book are finished. A draft of the third one is in statu nascendi. We have submitted an extensive book proposal to an international publisher.