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Prof. Horne Publishes Article in "Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties"



The Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties has published an article by Dr. Cale Horne, assistant professor of political studies, titled “The Consistency of Policy with Opinion in the Russian Federation, 1992-2006.”

 

Drawing on hundreds of surveys of Russian public opinion conducted from 1992 to 2006, the article assesses the degree to which Russian state policy responds to stated public preferences, and compares the findings to similar studies of opinion-policy consistency in the United States and other Western democracies. Contrary to expectations, Horne finds the Russian government’s responsiveness to public opinion to be comparable to levels of responsiveness found in the West.

 

Professor Horne premised his research on the idea that all leaders must, to some extent, be responsive to domestic policy preferences. “It's almost always too costly for a leader to use force all the time,” he says. “Even in the most autocratic states, there has to be some sensitivity to public opinion.”

 

This idea, he argues, can be traced back at least as far as John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government. “He isn't simply arguing that representative government is normatively the best,” said Professor Horne. “Locke sees that all governments must be at least minimally responsive to the public to survive. Representative governments are simply best at ensuring the responsiveness required, and thereby avoiding anarchy.

 

“Take East Germany as example:  a sophisticated police state that went to extraordinary lengths to measure public opinion about the state and state policy in an accurate way. It wasn’t that they cared about public opinion in a normative sense,” says Professor Horne, “but they cared about retaining leadership.”

 

This article is part of a larger project. Professor Horne has also assessed similar data regarding Iran and the Palestinian territories, and he plans to continue the work, perhaps resulting in a book.