Politicians and Economic Experts

The Limits of Technocracy

Anna Killick

£70.00  |  $99.00
ISBN 9781788215640
£24.99  |  $35.00
ISBN 9781788215657
£24.99  |  $35.00
ISBN 9781788215664
200 pages   |  234 x 156mm   |  10 November 2022


"Anna Killick has struck gold once again with an exemplary illustration of what can be learnt by taking the time to sit down with politicians and simply talking to them. Killick navigates her way with admirable adroitness through three interconnected issues: economics, populism and expertise. She paints a highly complex but hugely informative picture of how politicians come to hold certain economic opinions and how they seek to persuade their publics to think likewise. This is an exceptionally important book that deserves to have a significant impact on the academic literature." – Matthew Watson, University of Warwick


When it comes to economic policy-making, should politicians be responsive to voters, or responsible to future generations? The need to find economic solutions to the climate crisis is leading many to call for a greater role for experts to guide politicians, a new “economic technocracy”. Based on interviews with politicians and advisers from France, Germany, Denmark, the UK and USA, this book reveals why deferring to the experts is neither viable nor desirable, and how we have to trust politicians to take the lead role in solving economic problems.

The book provides an in-depth analysis of how politicians from the main parties think about economics and economists. It finds that politicians have clear and strong moral visions for what they want to achieve economically, visions that are strikingly diverse and contested. Although many are excellent communicators, only some have sought to convey complicated economic messages to voters, with many increasingly uneasy about technocracy undermining democracy. The book reveals how politicians judge the need to be both responsive and responsible and what role expert economic opinion plays in that balancing act.


Part I Politicians’ respect for economists and voters
1. Do we need more "economic experts"?
2. Politicians’ respect for economists
3. Politicians’ relationships with voters

Part II Ideological and national variations
4. The resurgent left’s view of economists
5. Denmark and Germany: "homegrown" economists
6. France: pluralist economics and populist threat
7. Inattentive Anglosphere right
8. Politicians and climate change economists

Part III Educating voters
9. "Educative" politicians rather than technocracy

Author Information

Anna Killick is a research fellow in the Department of Political Science, University College London. She is the author of Rigged: Understanding "the Economy" in Brexit Britain (2020).

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