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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Contemporary Local Self-Governance and Democracy – Challenges and Responses

Comparative Politics
Local Government
Section Number
Section Chair
Anders Lidström
Umeå Universitet
Section Co-Chair
Nikos Hlepas
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

As the unit of democracy closest to the citizens, local government has a unique position in the European polities. Despite considerable differences with regard to size, powers, functions and institutional structure, the almost 100 000 units of local government share a responsibility for handling collective needs at the local level. They are faced with the task of striking a balance between often conflicting demands in the local communities, within the frame provided by central government and on behalf of their citizens. They frequently carry out their functions in cooperation with various other interests at different levels.
Local government is under constant pressure to provide policies and services in a way that is effective, efficient and democratically legitimate. In many countries, the pressure has been reinforced by the recent financial crisis, which has established entirely new preconditions for self-government and service delivery. In addition, continuing processes of urbanization and the growth of city-regions has made citizens more mobile and less attached to a specific municipality, which represents a challenge to the territorial basis of municipal self-government. Traditional forms of territoriality are also questioned as IT technologies and e-communities create new forms for collective action and participation.

New and additional needs for responses and services by local authorities have emerged as a consequence of growing social diversity and segregation, an increasing number of immigrants and an ageing population. The European dimension has added to the complexity of local governance. The internal working of local government has been transformed through NPM and post-NPM reforms. In addition, low voter turnout and weaker political parties have undermined traditional forms of local representative democracy which has not only opened up for new forms of citizen influence but also provided opportunities for professionals and experts to challenge the role of the local politicians. All these changes provide challenges but also include a scope for innovation and renewal.

This section aims at exploring the state of contemporary local self-government and democracy and new and emerging forms of governance. Panels will deal with the different changes that have been taking place and will provide room for both empirical studies and more theoretically oriented papers. We particularly welcome comparative studies and theoretically and methodologically innovative papers.
The section is endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Local Government and Politics (LOGOPOL).

Panel List

Code Title Details
P078Effects of Non-Electoral Participation in Local Politics View Panel Details
P132Governance, Networks and Leadership View Panel Details
P156Institutional Reform in Local Government View Panel Details
P194Local Elections, Representation and Participation View Panel Details
P195Local Government Mergers and Territorial Reforms View Panel Details
P196Local Policy and Public Services View Panel Details
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