The Spatial Approach to the Party Mandate


This article applies spatial theory to the question of the party mandate. The party mandate model provides a system of linkage between citizen’s preferences and parliamentary and governmental politics. Existing approaches to the party mandate focus on parties’ governmental mandate: do parties enact their pledges? Instead, the spatial approach looks at the representative aspect of the party mandate: how parties represent in parliament. This allows a more inclusive analysis of parties’ mandates as well as an evaluation of opposition parties’ records. The spatial approach is connected to Pitkin’s idea that representation is an ‘institutionalised arrangement’. Thus, it focuses on the congruence of the electoral and parliamentary party competition rather than the record of individual parties. Analysis of recent elections and parliaments in the UK and the Netherlands reveals that the spatial approach offers the ability to analyse different political systems and can uncover differences between government and opposition and front- and backbenchers. Contrary to the findings of earlier studies, this study reveals that the party mandate model does not only apply to government parties and to Westminster style democracies.

Parliamentary Affairs 64(3), 425-447