Representation and discontent with political actors: What do Australian voters want from their parties?

Stream: Panel 7 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Public Opinion in Australia 
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Political parties play a crucial role in modern democracies and yet are the least trusted political actors in Western democracies. The literature explaining this has mainly concentrated on voters’ negative views about parties, e.g. parties are seen as corrupt, or uninterested in what voters want. These explanations, however, focus on where parties fail to meet voter expectations. What we lack is research posing the fundamental question underpinning this relationship: What do voters actually want from parties? This paper presents answers to this question. Based on innovative survey vignettes and focusing on parties’ representative behaviour, I show which type of party behaviour Australian voters expect: programme fulfilment, responsiveness or expert-driven decision-making. In conjunction with demographic and party specific data, as well as political attitudes of the respondents, I analyse which kinds of voters have specific expectations and which consequences, especially regarding the confidence in parties, come with these expectations.


Annika Werner (Presenter), Griffith University
Dr Annika Werner is a research fellow at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University. She received her PhD from Humboldt-University Berlin in 2015. Annika’s research focuses on the development and challenges of democracy, with a special focus on the role of political parties. In particular, she analyses party behaviour and policy representation from a comparative perspective. Her current research focuses on theoretical as well as voter-based expectations towards political actors in established democracies.