This article draws attention to how the ethics of democratic representation operates as a discreet factor in a crisis of representation afflicting Western democracies by identifying the ways a disregard for truthfulness can harm democratic representation. We argue that such a disregard undermines democratic representation by (1) reducing freedom and equality, (2) weakening accountability, (3) undermining citizens’ trust in democratic institutions, and (4) jeopardising the ability to compromise. We illustrate the processes that produce these effects by analysing examples of untruthful communication about Brexit by senior British politicians in the post-referendum debates. We show how all four of these effects were triggered by the ways they misled the public by (1) making claims about overwhelming popular support for their policy, (2) misrepresenting the power relations between the European Union and the national government, and (3) seriously downplaying the complexity of negotiations involved in leaving the European Union and reaching trade deals thereafter.
Hansson, S., & Kröger, S. (2021). How a lack of truthfulness can undermine democratic representation: The case of post-referendum Brexit discourses. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 23(4), 609–626. https://doi.org/10.1177/1369148120974009