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Ideal local Elites? Divergence and convergence in the conceptions of desirable properties of municipal policy makers.

Open Panel

Abstract

The transformation in former East Germany was mainly characterised by two chal-lenges: first, the implementation of modern institutions and second, to facilitate accep-tance and an understanding of the new system on the very individual level (cf. Ader-hold/Harm/Jaeck 2010). In the process of transferring the institutional and organisa-tional settings of the Federal Republic to former East Germany the primary objective accordingly was, to establish sophisticated, separate and specialised institutions, ration-ales and appropriate levels of conduct. The success of such complex processes is directly linked to the participation of the relevant protagonists. In times of social transformation political elites in general and local policy makers in particular are directly perceptible and are hence of superior importance as the central municipal representatives of the implementing institutions. In this regard the degree and the patterns of elite integration on the horizontal and ver-tical level are of special interest (cf. Hoffmann-Lange, Ursula 2006: 58). Within the con-text of the study at hand and its focus „Citizen expectations and local government re-sponses“ the descriptive dimension of the relation between elites and non-elites is mainly the vertical elite integration. Therefore, the following questions are central to our paper: a) Which conceptions of desirable attributes and skills of political-administrative local elites exist within the citizenry and the polled representatives of these el-ites? b) How do the citizens judge the elected policy-makers in their constituencies? c) What effects does a possible divergence between the images of “an ideal local elite“ and the actual governing policy-makers produce? Is there relevant evi-dence for a legitimacy crisis within the municipal institutional setting, which is likely to affect the general process of transformation negatively? The findings to be presented are based on three panel surveys of local political-administrative elites in Saxony-Anhalt and North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as three par-allelly conducted citizen polls within the larger framework of the “Collaborative Re-search Centre 580 – Social Developments after Structural Change”, respectively, its sub-project A4 “Local Political-Administrative Elites. Courses of Life between Insecurity, Pro-fessionalisation and Legitimacy“ (http://www.sfb580.uni-jena.de). By a combination of elite and citizen surveys from six different municipal investigation areas it is possible, to draw a comprehensive image of the “ideal local policy maker“ and compare it to the realities in the specific field. Literature: - Aderhold, Jens/Harm, Katrin/Jaeck, Tobias (2010): Einstellungen von Eliten in Ost-deutschland – diskutiert am Beispiel lokalpolitischer Führungsgruppen. In: Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Halle (IWH): 20 Jahre Deutsche Einheit – Von der Trans-formation zur europäischen Integration. Tagungsband. IWH-Sonderheft 3/2010. Halle/Saale. S. 433-451. - Hoffmann-Lange, Ursula (2006): Die Struktur der Eliten in modernen demokratischen Gesellschaften. In: Gabriel/Neuss/Rüther (Hrsg.): Eliten in Deutschland. Bedeutung – Macht – Verantwortung. Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. S. 56-73.