Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Institute for Futures Studies

No 2016:2: "Most MPs are not all that sharp"" Political employees and representative democracy

Stefan Svallfors ()
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Stefan Svallfors: Institute for Futures Studies, Postal: Institute for Futures Studies, Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This paper analyses the orientations of political employees In Sweden. Why do they prefer to pursue politics in this particular form and not as elected politicians? What are their views more broadly about representative democracy, and what do they think about the elected politicians? What do these orientations imply for their role in democratic governance? The paper finds that their roles are diffuse: there is no agreement among political employees about whether they are politicians or not, and their mandate is fleeting and unclear. They hold the(average politician’s intellectual abilities in low regard, and sometimes take on clearly paternalistic views towards elected representatives. They see little attraction in pursuing a career as elected politicians, because of intrusive media scrutiny and since they hold a view of elected politics as slow, boring, and shallow. The professional route to politics is seen as more efficient, fast and fun.

Keywords: politics; democracy; policy

JEL-codes: H83; O52; Z18

24 pages, February 1, 2016

Price: SEK 46

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