6.5.1 Politicians as Representatives

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/651.htm)

There are no politicians as such in authoritarian political systems (6.3.1), where appointed public servants make the necessary decisions, but most democracies are governed by politicians who are elected to act on behalf of the group of people they represent.

As illustrated earlier (6.1.2), politicians act as intermediaries, representatives, negotiators, directors and decision-makers.  They act as intermediaries between different groups of people within their constituencies and between the population and public services.  They are representatives and negotiators when dealing with other political units.  They are directors and decision-makers for public services, and they take decisions about when to use military force.

As explored in the following sub-sections, these tasks are so complex and important that they require the focused attention of chosen individuals to act as politicians (6.5.1.1), who can call upon the best available expertise to assist them.  Given that politicians act on behalf of the population, it is important that people understand and agree upon the basis upon which they are selected (6.5.1.2).  They then have to be empowered to take the necessary decisions, so they have to be regarded as representatives – not as delegates to enact decisions taken by the general public (6.5.1.3).  No matter how carefully politicians are selected, though, there are problems with any form of representation (6.5.1.4).

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