|Bulletin n. 2/2016|
Kersting Norbert, Schneider Sebastian H.
|Neue Machtansprüche in der Kommunalpolitik: Die Einstellungen von Ratsmitgliedern zu Bürgerbeteiligung|
|in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft , Volume 10, Issue 3-4, December 2016 , 2016 , 311–339|
|New claims to power in local politics: the attitudes of councilors towards civic engagement Abstract Municipal council and administration are essential for local politics. Increasingly, however, governance problems and societal changes are challenging their legitimacy. Citizens in particular are demanding to have a greater say in local planning and decision-making processes. As a result, many municipalities are trying out alternative means of civic engagement. At the same time, it is these established authorities who are in charge of conducting these processes and are responsible for implementing their outcomes. Thus, their attitudes and behavior are crucial for the proper functioning of civic engagement. This article therefore examines the attitudes of local councilors (N = 587) towards direct democracy and deliberative civic engagement in 27 German municipalities. On the one hand, it is argued that local councilors’ party affiliation affects their attitudes. On the other hand, their attitudes are also assumed to result from strategic considerations related to the respective local councilor’s membership in the majority or minority party within the council. As this study shows, first of all, the councilors’ attitude towards direct democracy ranges from neutral to moderately positive and their attitude towards deliberative civic engagement is positive. At the same time, there is great variance within and between the individual municipalities. Second, membership in the left party block (SPD, Green Party, Left Party) is positively correlated with councilors’ attitudes towards both kinds of civic engagement whereas membership in the relative council majority is negatively correlated with their attitudes towards citizen participation. When controlling for both variables simultaneously, the effect of the party variable predominates. With regard to attitudes towards direct democracy, there is a notable interaction between party affiliation and majority status. Left councilors whose party is in the majority have a comparatively more positive attitude towards direct democracy. No such interaction effect applies to deliberative civic engagement. Third, municipalities’ political characteristics have no effect on councilors’ attitudes. Nevertheless, as population size increases, councilors’ attitudes towards both dimensions of civic engagement become increasingly negative. In the Eastern federal states, councilors have a slightly more positive attitude towards direct democracy.|