Political representation refers to acting in the name of people who are literally not present. Firstly, we look at representation by politicians. Taking into account the role of parties in the recruitment and selection of political personnel, we analyse how electoral processes and voting behaviour influence the composition of parliaments. Secondly, we are interested in representation by political parties. More in particular, the entry and exit of parties and the saturation of party systems are studied. Thirdly, also parliamentary behaviour is a core research theme: both explanations and consequences of this behaviour are investigated. Finally, GASPAR has a long tradition of research on trade unions, and focusses now on the influence of old and new interest groups on parties. All representation processes are studied both as such and with a special focus on underrepresented social groups (women, ethnic minorities, working class, etc.).

To study these topics, we use both quantitative (surveys, experiments, text analyses and social network analyses) and qualitative (interviews) methods. We study these phenomena both in Belgium and in international-comparative perspective.


Key words: socialisation, preferential voting, voter bias, party bias, party systems, parliamentary roles, state-society relations