Economic integration and perceived substantive representation: The conditional role of experience and knowledge

Cal Le Gall & Virginie Van Ingelgom, UCLouvain


Do processes of economic integration weaken citizensโ€™ perceptions of substantive representation and whose citizens specifically? In this paper, we start from the observation that economic integration depresses representativesโ€™ abilities to be responsive toward citizensโ€™ preferences by limiting their room-to-manoeuvre. In turn, we hypothesize that citizens who perceive constraints from further integration should be less likely to believe that their preferences are taken into account by governors. Most importantly, we analyse how social characteristics, i.e. education, political interest, political affiliation and generational cohort, moderate this relationship. We test these hypotheses using the 2014 CED dataset, which includes 7 countries (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain). Our results indicates a negative correlation between perceptions of constraints and beliefs that national representatives take into consideration citizensโ€™ interests in line with our expectation. We find that political interest increases the degree to which perceived constraints hinder the likelihood to think that the national parliament represents citizensโ€™ concerns, but no moderating effects of education. Interestingly, we also find evidence that left-leaning citizens are less likely to feel represented than citizens who identify at the right end of the scale when they perceive constraints. Finally, our results indicate that perceiving constraints weakens perceived substantive representation, among older cohorts who have been socialized in an era when constraints were not as important, than among younger cohorts.