Dog whistles and democratic mandates

Goodin, Robert E. and Saward, Michael (2005). Dog whistles and democratic mandates. Political Quarterly, 76(4) p. 471.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-923X.2005.00708.x

Abstract

Manipulative mixed messages from candidates to voters affect what governments are entitled to do in office. A party that wins an election gains a 'mandate to rule'. But there is a second type of mandate: a 'policy mandate' to enact specific policy proposals central to the winning party's campaign. Mixed-message politics in general can undermine policy mandates, and the use of 'dog whistle politics' - telling one group of voters one thing, while allowing or encouraging another group to believe another - makes the inferring of policy mandates especially problematic. Referendums provide only a partial remedy to dog whistle politics. Winning a clear policy mandate means forgoing dog whistle politics, despite the short term electoral advantage they may deliver.

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