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A politician is a person who holds a political office or mandate or has any other political effect. Politicians are usually members of a party .


Politicians can act at all levels of a state or a party. Sometimes they are named accordingly (federal politicians, state politicians, local politicians). Political offices can be government offices (e.g. minister ) or an office in a party (e.g. party chairman , there without popular election). Political mandates are exercised in the legislative bodies and in some executive positions. Different schools of thought see a separation of office and mandate as desirable.

Politicians aim to solve problems in society through their thinking and to influence political decisions through their actions. To this end, they can use their rights secured by political offices (for example, when voting in parliament ). They can also exert an influence through expression of opinion.

As a member of a party, a politician represents its interests. However, there are politicians who are no party connect ( non-party ) or their task is not (as president of a state) the advocacy of their party. In addition to the professional politicians who, for example, as a Member of Parliament , Parliamentary Secretary , minister or deputy minister or as a paid party functionary works, there is the volunteer working politicians, the policy only next to his profession exercises, for example in Switzerland's political system .

Local politicians also work on a voluntary basis as members of the local council , the district council or its committees. Most of the time, the full-time municipal electoral officers are seen not only as heads of local government , but also as local politicians. In principle, it can be stated that party-political motives play a lesser role in smaller municipalities than in larger ones.

As occasion politicians moreover be referred to those political act in any other way, such a political speech hold at a meeting. In the broadest sense, Max Weber also counts voters as occasional politicians when they cast their votes. He defines politicians as all those who “conduct 'politics' - that is, seek to influence the distribution of power between and within political structures”.

Political Action Theories

The actions of politicians are the subject of political science . It explains the actions of politicians and political competition.

Ethical approaches to explaining political actions

The desire to bring about good political decisions, for example to help one's own region or the whole country, is of fundamental importance for the political motivation of individuals. This leads to a commitment for the benefit of all citizens, as postulated, for example, by the ethics of responsibility .

Often, however, these long-term goals are not perceived by voters as the best choice, which is why the political success of such positions is limited. Furthermore, opinions differ on what constitutes the “good of all citizens” or “good of the state people” in the long term and how this should be achieved. This also helps ensure that the “best” model does not necessarily prevail in political competition. There is no doubt that a career-related image of a politician can also be explained for politicians whose actions are geared towards their goals: The conviction that you are making the right decisions yourself leads to a striving for power and influence.

Economic Theory of Politics

The New Political Economy (NPÖ) provides a less positive approach to explaining the actions of politicians with economic principles . It explains structures and behavior mainly on the basis of neoclassical theory . The basic assumption is that politicians behave as rational utility maximizers . This essentially means that politicians have a strong re-election orientation and therefore pursue a policy that leads to a maximization of votes in the next elections .

Two important strands can be distinguished:

Orientation towards short-term goals

A politician who maximizes utility according to the NPÖ will take into account in his decisions that the voter honors the achievement of short-term goals rather than the pursuit of long-term goals, since the voter himself has a strong preference for the present , which in turn is due to the fact that long-term concepts are less politically and economically oriented educated voters cannot be placed because of the high level of complexity. Considering re-election, the politician will therefore shy away from painful short-term measures, even if these are economically or politically absolutely necessary.

Examples of such a policy are the continually observable new indebtedness of rich industrial nations, a lack of reserves in the statutory pension system, cyclical instead of countercyclical economic policy or a lack of courage to undertake painful but necessary reforms.

Orientation towards the median selector

An important approach in this context is the median voter model : If one assumes the goal of maximizing votes in the case of politicians, then a politician or party carries out precisely the policy that the median voter wants. As a result, the major parties neglect political margins and problem areas.

In addition, measures that are visible to the citizen, but not necessarily economically sensible, can be assumed, while possibly more important goals that are not recognized as such by the voters are not pursued. Rather, individually noticeable measures can then be assumed with little noticeable burdens for the voter.

See also

Portal: Politicians  - Overview of Wikipedia content on politicians
Portal: Politics  - Overview of Wikipedia content on politics


Web links

Wiktionary: Politicians  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Politicians  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Duden | Politician | Spelling, meaning, definition, origin. Retrieved December 4, 2019 .
  2. a b Politics and Complexity Management . Competence profile of politicians in the range from strategist to suggestion box. In: ifo Schnelldienst 1/2011 - 64th year . ( ifo.de [PDF]).
  3. ^ Max Weber : Politics as a profession. 1919. ISBN 3-15-008833-X or ISBN 3-928640-06-2 (reprint) ( online text ).