Trustee vs. Delegate Models of Representation

Definitions and Development of the Topic

There are two models advanced to explain the issue of representation. These are trustee and delegation models. A trustee model refers to a situation where people in a particular constituency choose their representative in parliament. It is a model of representative. The people entrust the person they choose with the duty of making major decisions on their behalf.

As such, the representative acts as the trustee of the people in all their matters at both the local and national scene. He/she has a significant measure of autonomy. The elected trustee has the duty of deliberating and making decisions for the greater interest of the people while still putting the national interest first (Burke, 1996).

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As such, the trustee has the mandate to make decisions on behalf of the people; he can then forego the immediate interest of his constituents in favor of the national interest. He does this bearing in mind that he is given the trusteeship because the constituents believe that they collectively lack the necessary knowledge, which the trustee has. As such, they give this power to the trustee to do it on their behalf.

On the other hand, delegate model of representation is understood as parallel to the trustee model of representation. While the trustee model of representation gives the trustee all the rights and the powers to make the decisions on behalf of the people, delegation sees the representative as the mouthpiece of the people.

He has no right or power to decide on his own volition (Burke, 1996). As such, this unlike trustee model is a representative democracy. In this model of representation, the people only elect the delegate to represent their constituencies in the parliament.

As we understand, a delegate is a person chosen to act/speak on behalf of the people in governance, trade unions among others. From the definition of a delegate as a person speaking on behalf of another party, we learn that unlike a trustee, a delegate only says or acts according to the instructions or interest of the party he is representing. He has no autonomy like a trustee (Burke, 1996).

On the issue of closing the large naval base in my small constituent, bearing in mind that the presidents’ defense spending reform is aimed at creating a more up-to-date national security budget, an objective that serves the broader nation al interest. As a senator of this small state therefore, acting as the trustee of the people, I will aim at supporting the president’s initiative. This decision will be because though the closure of the naval base will have a short-term negative effect on the people. Economically, I will support the president’s decision.

This I will do putting in mind that the people might not actually understand the long-term benefit of having an up to date national security. As such, my chances of being re-elected will be compromised. Nevertheless, with the understanding of the long time benefit of the president’s initiative, I will embark on a civic education on my constituents on the long-term benefits of the president’s initiative.


In conclusion, it is my decision to support the president’s initiative on the closing of military naval bases that no longer serve any vital benefits. This is despite the fact that it may appear as a potential compromise to my re-election and that of the president.

On consultation with my party and the president, I will initiate other projects that will compensate for the loss of income caused by the closure of the naval base. This could be by setting a manufacturing plant in place of the naval base. This will bring back the people’s confidence on me as their trustee. This will also reassure my re-election and build confidence on me by my party members.


Burke, E. (1996). Speech to the Electors of Bristol in the Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke. New York: Oxford University Press.


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