Experts in Government: What for? Ambiguities in Public Opinion Towards Technocracy

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Experts in Government: What for? Ambiguities in Public Opinion Towards Technocracy


  • Ernesto Ganuza Institute of Public Goods and Policies, Spanish National Research Council, Spain
  • Joan Font Institute of Advanced Social Studies, Spanish National Research Council, Spain


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Abstract:  Technocratic governments and similar systems that give more voice to experts in the decision-making process are one of the potential alternatives to traditional representative party government. These alternatives have become increasingly popular, especially in countries where strong political disaffection and previous favourable pro-expert attitudes exist simultaneously. The Spanish case is one of these settings, with the emergence of a political party, Ciudadanos (Citizens), that represents these ideas. This article contributes to the understanding of public opinion support for an expert government, its main motives, and social supports. We claim that experts are not so much a decision-making alternative as they are a desired piece of the decision-making process. Support for a more significant role for experts comes especially from those that credit them with ample technical capacities, but most citizens want them to work as a piece of representative government, not as an alternative to it. The article combines two types of evidence: A survey of a representative sample of the population, including innovative questions about support to expert governments, and 10 focus groups that allow a more in-depth comprehension of the support (and criticism) of an increased role for experts. The results provide a nuanced picture of the types of expert involvement sought and their respective social support.

Keywords:  democracy; experts; government; populism; representation; technocracy

Published:   17 December 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3206


© Ernesto Ganuza, Joan Font. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.