Besides participation and competition, representation is clearly the crucial feature of modern mass democracy. Hence, and unsurprisingly, verdicts of democratic crisis and challenges to democracy are often associated with issues of (low degrees of) representation. Research points to very different factors decreasing the quality of representation and also to the relevance of institutions as well as political actors. Theoretical and empirical work is further complicated by the fact that there are different types, modes and models of representation. In addition, issues of representation are frequently considered to be responsible for important developments in current democracies, thereby switching its role from explanandum to explanans.
This panel brings together empirical studies following novel avenues of research in the outlined subfield of democracy and electoral research. The presentations touch on consequences of representation, e.g., how unequal representation hampers electoral participation or the wide ranged effects of representation in terms of policy congruence. At the same time, the panel presents evidence on how politicians are more or less representative depending on their hierarchical position in the party organization. This seems very important as the non-unitary nature of political parties becomes more and more important in times of personalization and easy access to social media. Finally, while the behavior and composition of political elites is crucial for representative democracy, representation is a dynamic process. We focus here on the role of political harassment of politicians by citizens and how such events decrease the heterogeneity of electoral candidates and, therefore, descriptive representation.