Politicians and public opinion are two inseparable elements of a political society. They are almost like two sides of the same coin because one isn’t complete without the other. However, the debate about whether public opinion shapes politicians and their choices or whether politicians shape public opinion is ever-contesting. Either way, it is important to understand the influence that politicians and public opinion have on each other. Politicians need to shape public opinion in their favour in order to gain credibility, whereas public opinion ensures the democratic essence of the political society.

Some scholars have also attributed public opinion as a dangerous force, dubbing it as “tyranny of the majority”; however, when it comes to contemporary politics, the role of public opinion can simply not be ignored. As to whether policymaking is dominated by politicians or public opinion, it can be assumed that the latter dominates. This is because, amid the rise of populism and political awareness that happens, all across the world, the role of public opinion in shaping policy choices has strengthened. Governments that, very often, go against the generally accepted public opinion face outrageous rebellions and protests through which they eventually have to revert their decisions. One of the core drawbacks of regarding public opinion as the foundation of policymaking is that public opinion seems to never be unified and collective. As per example, given the policy choice – the public might divide into two camps. In such situations, politicians, strongly and consistently dominate the political outcome of the situation.

We can also mention another important aspect of the dominance of public opinion, such as the extent to which public opinion matters is, in many points, subject to the nature of the issue at hand i.e., how relevant, and salient it is to the public. For example, if government officials are making a policy regarding an international trade agreement, public opinion will be less likely directly contradict the policy or interface in the process. However, if policymaking is closely related to the social fabric of the society, it might trigger a more outrageous public opinion i.e., the case of recent US Abortion Laws. Policymaking is versatile and usually described as a cycling process from the identification of a problem to the evaluation of a programme. For the public opinion the degree to which individuals express trust in the political institutions matters. Obviously, public opinion does not make policies and laws; rather it restrains politicians from making unpopular and unappropriated actions.

To conclude, politicians’ interests are aligned with ensuring a favourable public opinion, which means that public opinion does, undeniably, cast great influence on politicians. But eventually, the politicians are in a much better position of decision making which means that given any policy decision, public opinion can only influence it – but it cannot completely alter it. The politicians-public opinion nexus will keep getting more and more sensitive and critical as people become politically more aware and active, a trend which is likely to be observed in the upcoming years.