Kersting and Schneider (2016) - Neue Machtansprüche in der Kommunalpolitik: Die Einstellungen von Ratsmitgliedern zu Bürgerbeteiligung

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Kersting, Norbert, Schneider, Sebastian H. (2016). Neue Machtansprüche in der Kommunalpolitik: Die Einstellungen von Ratsmitgliedern zu Bürgerbeteiligung. In Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft 10: 311-339. DOI: 10.1007/s12286-016-0308-7

problem

  • elected councilors are key actors in local politics regarding their role as final decision makers in general and in the context of civic participation; what are their attitudes towards direct and deliberative forms of civic participation and how can they be explained?

method

  • telephone survey among 587 councilors in 27 German cities; multilevel analyses

summary

  • general assumptions:
  1. the attitudes of councilors are influenced by their political orientation (measured by party affiliation) and
  2. the attitudes are influenced by strategic considerations drawn from the political situation (belonging to majority/minority, level of fragmentation of the council, cohabitation, level of voter turnout)
  • hypotheses:
    • councilors from the left political spectrum are more positive towards direct as well as towards deliberative participation
    • councilors from the majority have a more positive attitude towards deliberative participation and a more negative attitude towards direct participation than councilors from the minority; these factors are moderated the influence of the party affiliation
    • the higher the level of fragmentation in the council, the more positive the attitudes towards both forms of participation should be
    • the higher the level of fragmentation, the more positive the attitudes towards both forms of participation should be
    • a low voter turnout has a positive influence on the attitudes towards both forms of participation as from the perspective of councilors, new forms of participation might balance out a deficit of legitimacy


  • results:
    • overall, Kersting and Schneider find that councilors have a slightly positive attitude towards civic participation, whereby deliberative particpation is rated more positive than direct participation
    • analyses also show that there are significant differences between different municipalities; however, multilevel analyses only show significant effects of party affiliation; they do not confirm the theoretically expected influence of political context factors like fragmentation, voter turnout or cohabitation status on the attitudes of councilors
    • differences between municipalities can only be deduced from the municipality's size: the bigger the citiy, the less positive the mean attitude towards both forms of participation
    • results do not show any relation between strategic considerations and councilors' attitudes towards civic participation