Revitalising representative democracy
In all countries represented in this book, local democracy is shaped in accordance with the model of representative democracy (John 2001; Batley and Stoker 1991). Yet, most examples of reform in local democracies do not focus on reforming the existing representative democratic system itself. Rather, they seem to aim at enriching democratic practice with the introduction of new techniques and approaches inspired by other concepts like direct, discursive or participatory democracy, following the movement from “local government” to “local governance” observable throughout Europe (John 2001). Of course one should not overstate this point. Some cities do experiment with strategies that can directly be linked to representative democracy. Yet, the most mentioned examples of local democratic reform do not focus on the representative system. It looks as if the main source of inspiration for democratic reform is nowadays found outside the classical model of representation. In this chapter we deal with the question whether the model of representative democracy can still inspire democratic practice.