Pähle (2008) - Bürgerbeteiligung auf kommunaler Ebene. Eine Herausforderung für die Legitimation lokaler Mandatsträger?
Pähle, Katja (2008). Bürgerbeteiligung auf kommunaler Ebene. Eine Herausforderung für die Legitimation lokaler Mandatsträger? In Hubert Heinelt & Angelika Vetter: Lokale Politikforschung heute. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 249-269.
What does the interconnection between political participation and belief of legitimation towards political elites look like? When citizens participate politically in their municipality, does this strengthen their belief of legitimation towards elected representatives? Or is it maybe just the other way around?
Data base consists of survey data of citizens in six cities and rural districts in North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony-Anhalt, respectively. Sample was drawn to make an east-west-comparison as well as to compare cities of different population size. Regression analysis with the legitimation of political elites by the citizens as dependent variable and possible predictors of legitimation belief as independent variables. Citizen’s experience in political participation is one of the independent variables.
Interestingly, there is not a clear positive correlation between participation and belief of legitimation, as some theorists assume. Anyway, this result is open to interpretations – in fact, the conclusion does not need to be a negative one: You could imagine that citizens who participate see themselves as equal actors to political elites and, by that, feel confident and competent enough to criticize the elites and doubt their legitimation. Seen from this angle, less belief of legitimation towards political elites could also be an indicator for a modern civil society developing.