Den responsiva demokratin? Effekter av medborgarnas delaktighet i den lokala demokratin

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Sammanfattning: This thesis aims at investigating the relationship between citizens' attempts to influence decision-making in a democracy and the representativeness of policy outcome. The question is to what extent the degree of citizen political activity, in terms of expressing policy preferences, affects: 1. The policy agreement between citizens and their elected representatives. 2. The perceptual accuracy of citizen opinions among representatives. It is argued that both policy agreement and perceptual accuracy are potentially important prerequisites to attain responsiveness in a democratic political system. The important normative question of the thesis is based on the fact that citizen's attempts to influence public decision-making often seems to be biased in favour of social groups already rich in resources. If political participation is socially biased the question is if this participation also will cause a bias in the opinions articulated towards decisionmakers and in the end also in a biased political influence.Earlier research on the topic of this thesis has basically been limited to the classical study published by Sidney Verba and Norman H. Nie in 1972: Participation in America. Political democracy and social equality. In order to examine this issue further, a survey was conducted in 40 Swedish municipalities. Included was a random sample of citizen from each municipality as well as a sample including all elected councilors in the municipalities. The effects of four different channels of citizen preference articulation is examined 1) participation in local elections, 2) non-electoral political participation, 3) activities and membership in voluntary associations and 4) everyday contacts between citizens and their elected representatives.The results of the empirical analyses show that electoral participation does not have a positive effect on either policy agreement or perceptual accuracy in Swedish municipalities. The main tendency as regards the non-electoral channels of citizen preference articulation indicates a linear and positive effect on the policy agreement between citizens and representatives but no similar positive effect on the perceptual accuracy.