Delegate model of representation

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The delegate model of representation is a model of a representative democracy. In this model, constituents elect their representatives as delegates for their constituency. These delegates act only as a mouthpiece for the wishes of their constituency/state and have no autonomy from the constituency only the autonomy to vote for the actual representatives of the state. This model does not provide representatives the luxury of acting in their own conscience and is bound by imperative mandate. Essentially, the representative acts as the voice of those who are (literally) not present.

This model was contested by Edmund Burke (1729-1797), an Irish philosopher, who also created the trustee model of representation.

Delegate model of representation is made use of in various forms of council democracy and commune democracy (more recent example is Parpolity proposed by Stephen Shalom) and liquid democracy. Models of democratic rule making extensive use of delegate model of representation are often labeled delegative democracy.[1][2]

Guillermo O'Donnell has used the term "delegative democracy" to criticize authoritarian tendencies in newly created democratic states.[3]

Further reading[edit]

  • Burke, Edmund. 1774 (1906). Speech to the electors of Bristol in The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke. Vol. II. New York: Oxford University Press.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cammaerts, Bart (2019). "Revalidating Participation: Power and Pre-Figurative Politics within contemporary Left-wing Movements". In Carpentier, Nico (ed.). Respublika! : experiments in the performance of participation and democracy. Cyprus: NeMe. p. 131. ISBN 978-9963-9695-8-6. OCLC 1088563137.
  2. ^ Held, David (2019). "Democracy: From City-states to a Cosmopolitan Order". Contemporary political philosophy : an anthology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ. p. 641. ISBN 978-1-119-15417-4. OCLC 1084627545.
  3. ^ O'Donnell, Guillermo (January 1994). "Delegative Democracy". Journal of Democracy. 5 (1): 55–69. doi:10.1353/jod.1994.0010.

External links[edit]