Local democracy has increasingly faced problems such as declining voter turnout and decreasing trust in political parties. Certain forms of participatory democracy have been introduced to address political disengagement. Often these efforts do not deliver the envisaged results, as they exacerbate existing inequalities by attracting only certain groups of citizens. This paper takes a close look at representation to find out if and how it can strengthen local democracy. Non-electoral representation, as manifested by representative claims based on non-electoral grounds, such as identity and expertise, made by local councillors, as well as non-elected individuals and organisations, might serve to mitigate democratic problems. We empirically study manifestations of electoral and non-electoral representation and their interactions. We conclude that non-electoral representation can strengthen local democracy, but its relationship with electoral representation can also be problematic. We make suggestions as to how these problems might be overcome in an effort to strengthen the local representative system.

Local democracy, representation, representative claims, decentralisation, qualitative research
dx.doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2018.1548351, hdl.handle.net/1765/113147
Local Government Studies
University of Leiden

van de Bovenkamp, H.M, & Vollaard, H. (2018). Strengthening the local representative system: the importance of electoral and non-electoral representation. Local Government Studies. doi:10.1080/03003930.2018.1548351