Authors: Bobbio, Matteucci, Pasquino
Summary: This entry of about 4,100 words begins by considering the chief aspects of the concept, not only in politics, but in art and drama. After this, the entry discusses various political meanings of the term. It gives two main sets of meanings: (1) those that refer to a dimension of action; and (2) those that refer to a dimension of the reproduction of properties or qualities. The entry defines representation as "a particular political mechanism aimed at the achievement of relationship of communication and control between the governors and the governed."
In the second part of the entry, three main models of political representation are presented: (1) representation as delegation, with medieval origins, in which the representative has no freedom of initiative; (2) representation as a fiduciary relationship, in which the representative acts with a degree of autonomy as a representative of the nation; and (3) representation as "mirror," or sociological representation. None of these models of representation exists in its pure form.
In the third part, the entry considers the procedural and institutional aspect of political representation, mentioning the importance of competitive elections (elective representation) and political parties. Finally, the entry contrasts representative and non-representative political systems. Representative systems are based on competitive elections, whereas non-representative ones can be characterized by "representative phenomena," which are different from the institutionalized system of electoral responsibility.