To what extent should a politican follow the electorate's wishes?

A politician, depending on what level of government they’re at, quite possibly has access to information that the general public doesn’t on some issues. They will have particular beliefs that certain things are good and certain things are bad, and they’ll probably have been elected based on those things.

To what extent would you say a politician is obliged to follow the wishes of the electorate, as opposed to following his own wishes on the mandate of his election? If on one end of the scale we have a person who holds a referendum on each and every issue and decision, and follows the results whilst ignoring his own personal feelings; and on the other someone who will ignore any polling or ideas of the electorate to focus on their own ideas, information (which will probably be better), and general view of the world, which do you think politicians should be closer to?

I’m uncertain. One one hand, the idea that the people have the right to decide is a strong one. On the other, sometimes politicians need to make decisions which are wildly unpopular. What are your thoughts on the matter?

I’m of the opinion that the people have an ultimate democratic right to remove an unsuitable politician from office, but that is the limit of their right. In the meantime, I think the politicians should act on conscience.

I like a bit of a buffer between the changing wishes of a fickle public and what those charged with the medium to long-term fortunes of a nation have to decide. Cynicism aside, some rare politicians do strive for higher ideals. Populism usually sucks.

I don’t think you can support one extreme or the other, really.

I’m happy when representatives feel beholden to their constituents, yet are also firm enough about their own philosophies to stand firm in the face of unpopularity.

I think “general view of the world”, “philosophies” and “conscience” are what I want to be identical, or as close to it as possible, between me and my elected official. That’s because I want her to act as I would *if *I had the additional information available that she has and I don’t. The politician, IMHO, shouldn’t be voting based on conscience, but based on information. If I thought we all had the time, inclination and intelligence to become fully educated on all the issues, I’d be pushing for a pure democracy. Since we don’t, we hire people to do the intelligence for us and make the decisions we would if we could.

The obligation should be to follow the wishes of the majority his electorate as best as that can be assessed. ie. 100%.

What is this “mandate” of which you speak? How can an elected monarch be any better than a hereditary one? They’re certainly no better than the hereditary type (let’s leave Prince Charles out of this. It weakens my thesis a smidgeon).

You might as well abandon the word: “representative” and substitute the word: “lawmaker”.

(Oh dear. It’s already happened.) :wink:

I didn’t mean to offer the choice of one of the other; just giving example of the two extremes as a way to show what I meant.

By “mandate” I mean that their electorate has chosen to vote them into office. Campaigns don’t usually say “i’ll do whatever you want me to”, but more “This is what I would do, vote for me and i’ll do it”. It’s more a question of whether a politician should take election as essentially all the support they need to do what they want, since that’s what people voted for.

No way. We might as well abolish the legislature and have all laws passed by direct referendum, which of course would be a disaster. Representatives have the time and the advisors (and access to information that we don’t) that allow them to make vastly more informed decisions than the voters are capable of making. The voters prerogative is to vote the SOBs out of office if they don’t like the job they are doing. Direct democracy is a bad idea. It would be like holding a referendum on how to treat your diabetes.

To what extent should a politican follow the electorate’s wishes? About the same extent a doctor should follow a patient’s advise on treatment.