Tricky for good reasons: Institutionalizing local participatory governance in representative democracy
At first sight, it hardly seems controversial at all. Within democratic politics, having more opportunities to participate is almost by definition an improvement and advancement. The right to participate in collective decision-making is a crucial element of democracy. Yet a brief look around the world suggests there is something strange about this intuitive idea. To anyone familiar with the literature on democratic innovations and participatory governance, it is obvious that the most ambitious and radical attempts to enable more far-reaching and frequent participation in policy processes are not being made among mature democracies. Regarding politician-initiated invitations to participation, it is instead cases like Porto Alegre in Brazil that have received the most attention, as well as the admiration of quite a few social scientists (Fung and Olin Wright 2001; Baiocchi 2001; Heller 2001). In more mature representative democracies, introducing and integrating participatory mechanisms into the process of democratic governance seems to be quite a delicate task. Although the ideas and agenda can easily be found, one key challenge of participatory governance is “the lack of a broad popular articulation and agreement on the role of nonelectoral participation in contemporary democratic institutions” (Fung 2015: 8). In a similar vein, Torfing et al. point out how difficult it is for interactive governance arrangements to “legitimate their role in governance and to secure a legitimate place within the process of governing” (Torfing et al. 2012: 118).
|Department of Sociology
Danielsson, M. (Marianne), Hertting, N. (Nils), & Klijn, E.-H. (2017). Tricky for good reasons: Institutionalizing local participatory governance in representative democracy. In Local Participatory Governance and Representative Democracy: Institutional Dilemmas in European Cities (pp. 18–48). doi:10.4324/9781315471174