A close connection between public opinion and policy is considered a vital element of democracy. However, legislators cannot be responsive to all voters at all times with regard to the policies the latter favour. We argue that legislators use their speaking time in parliament to offer compensatory speech to their constituents who might oppose how they voted on a policy, in order to re-establish themselves as responsive to the public's wishes. Leveraging the case of Brexit, we show that legislators pay more attention to constituents who might be dissatisfied with how they voted. Furthermore, their use of rhetorical responsiveness is contingent on the magnitude of the representational deficit they face vis-à-vis their constituency. Our findings attest to the central role of parliamentary speech in maintaining responsiveness. They also demonstrate that communicative responsiveness can substitute for policy responsiveness.
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© 2023 The Authors. European Journal of Political Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Consortium for Political Research.
- parliamentary speeches
- text analysis