Local Democracy and the Public Services

Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson


This article explores the relationship between democratic participation and responsiveness. Data from Icelandic local governments is used to examine the assumptions of three different theories of democracy: the minimalist theory, the theory of party democracy and theories of participatory democracy. No support was found for the minimalist theory that merely the competitive element is sufficient to bring about responsive organisations. Party democracy receives some support in that party membership tends to increase the satisfaction of citizens with their local government. Party members, however, are only a small proportion of the electorate. Direct participation tends to increase the knowledge and satisfaction of the citizens but size and the non-representative nature of activists pose a problem for the theory.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2005.1.1.7


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