The Dutch city of Rotterdam is characterized by a multitude of participatory arrangements and opportunities to participate in policymaking processes. The city has a long history of popular participation that goes back to the 1960s (Beaumont and Loopmans 2008). The ubiquity of participatory arrangements gives the impression that participatory approaches, and thus citizens, have firm ground in the policy- and decision-making process in Rotterdam. However, in Dutch local governance systems, there is also a strong tradition of top-down policymaking, which builds heavily on a representative logic that approaches policy- and decision-making as a matter of representatives rather than citizens. The Dutch local governance system draws on top-down models of policymaking, that is, a vertical mode of steering (Edelenbos and van Buuren 2008), and on corporatist tradition in Dutch policymaking (see, e.g., Lijphart 1975). The co-existence of the wide range of participation options and a local governance system characterized by top-down steering makes Rotterdam an interesting city to study in relation to participatory governance. From a democratic point of view, participatory and representative approaches have quite diverging and, to a certain degree, even irreconcilable logics when it comes to how and what roles citizens and governors can and should play in policy- and decision-making processes. The apparent co-occurrence of both participatory and representative practices in Rotterdam then suggests that there may be tensions and dilemmas when a government organized along the lines of a representative logic implements participatory practices.

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Vandenbussche, L, & Eshuis, J. (2017). A trojan horse in the representative system: Participatory governance in Rotterdam and the redevelopment of the fenix storehouses. In Local Participatory Governance and Representative Democracy: Institutional Dilemmas in European Cities (pp. 64–107). doi:10.4324/9781315471174