This study explores the relationship between elected representatives and the parties they belong to in the European context. It uses an elite cross-national survey, exploring the way elected representatives perceive their representative role and construct their perceptions of representation with regards to party unity. In order to bypass the "no-variance" problem in recorded votes, the study makes use of a legislator's sequential decision-making model, according to which party unity is not considered an end-result, but rather a process. Using attitudinal data on legislators’ perceptions and attitudes, the study shows that representatives often feel a tension between different, competing foci of representation – mainly party representation versus all other foci. It then examines how elected representatives reconcile this tension; how they are assisted by internalized perceptions of their role; and the effect of various institutional factors in this process.
Reut Itzkovitch-Malka is a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. She is also a postdoctoral scholar from the Israel Institute. Her research interest centers on political representation from a comparative politics perspective, with a specific focus on the following two major topics. The first is legislative studies. Her main contribution in this regard is a large-scale, cross national comparative research focusing on legislators’ perceptions of representation and on the link between such perceptions and party unity. This research, which she conducted for her dissertation, uses a novel decision-making sequential model for the analysis of legislative attitudes and behavior. Using this model the research provides a first-time inside look into the dynamics surrounding party unity and allows us to gauge the importance of legislators’ representational role perceptions in shaping their behavior. Her second research interest revolves around gender and political representation. While investigating a broad range of issues related to gender and politics – such as women’s descriptive representation, the adoption of gender quotas for women and the gender gap in voting – Reut specializes in the substantive representation of women.
Reut received a Ph.D. in political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2014, where she won the President Fellowship for outstanding doctoral students. She holds an M.A. with honors in political science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a B.A with honors in political science and history also from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.