In politics, a method or process of enabling a constituency to influence legislation and government policy through deputies chosen by it. The rationale of representative government is that in large modern countries the people cannot all assemble, as they did in the marketplace of democratic Athens. If the public is to participate in government, citizens must select a small number from among themselves to act for them. Political parties have come to act as intermediaries between citizens and their representatives by helping to formulate systematically citizens' demands. Arguments persist about the proper role of representatives; some theories suggest that they should act as delegates carrying out the instructions of the public, whereas others argue that they should serve as free agents, acting in accordance with their best ability and understanding. Seealso proportional representation.
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Electoral system in which the share of seats held by a political party in the legislature closely matches the share of popular votes it received. It was devised in Europe in the mid-19th century to guarantee minority groups more representation than was possible under the majority or plurality systems. Its supporters claim that it creates a more accurate reflection of public opinion; its opponents argue that by allowing more parties in a legislature, it may result in weaker, less stable governments. Two methods for apportioning seats are the single-transferable-vote method, under which voters rank candidates by preference, and the list system, under which voters select a party's list of candidates rather than individuals. Some countries (e.g., Germany and Russia) use a combination of plurality and proportional methods for allocating seats in the lower house of the national legislature. Seealso legislative apportionment.
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Represent can refer to: