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Shortcoming or Malfunctioning? The Channels of Representation in Spain

Government
Institutions
Parliaments
Political Participation
Representation
Gonzalo Cavero Cano
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Gonzalo Cavero Cano
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
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Abstract

Political representation has become dynamic, shifting, and elusive. The growing gap between the political elite and the citizenry have generated alienation, and moved away people from politics. At the same time, it has shown the shortcomings of representative institutions. Nevertheless, democratic legitimacy, in Spain, remains relatively high, considering the current situation of crisis. However, in the literature, the lack of confidence on representative institutions has been said to increase the level of unconventional participation, boosting the incentives for institutional innovations. Societies are developing faster than their institutions of government; as a result, representatives are increasingly pressured to redefine their relationship with the citizenry. But they cannot stand alone in their task; they may need of social movements. The 15-M movement has pointed out some of deficiencies of the system. The usual response to the shortcomings on representation has been to turn to an institutionalization of citizen participation, channeling popular discontent into the system. But the question to be addressed is: How are going to be able, discredited representatives, to convince an increasingly informed and prepared citizenry to join the institutional arrangements they design? The aim of the paper is to reconsider the role representatives and social movements are playing, taking into account the challenges that unconventional participation is posing, and specifically the idea of "representative claims" as understood by Michael Saward.