Size and Local Democracy
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Size and Local Democracy

Bas Denters, Michael Goldsmith, Andreas Ladner, Poul Erik Mouritzen and Lawrence E. Rose

How large should local governments be, and what are the implications of changing the scale of local governments for the quality of local democracy? These questions have stood at the centre of debates among scholars and public sector reformers alike from antiquity to the present. This monograph offers the first systematic cross-national investigation of these questions using empirical evidence gathered specifically for this purpose. Results provide insights that offer important touchstones for reform activities and academic research efforts in many countries.
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Chapter 9: Satisfaction with municipal performance

Bas Denters, Michael Goldsmith, Andreas Ladner, Poul Erik Mouritzen and Lawrence E. Rose


Whereas widespread, responsible political involvement of competent citizens is often considered to be of paramount importance, the notion of democratic government is also associated with the legitimacy of government in the eyes of the public. An important aspect of this legitimacy relates to what we have discussed in the previous chapter, namely citizens’ confidence in their elected representatives. In this chapter we focus on a second aspect of legitimacy: citizens’ evaluations of the performance of municipal governments. Such evaluations pertain to what has been referred to as output legitimacy (Scharpf 1999). As was seen in Chapter 3, municipal governments are important for our respondents’ daily lives. Indeed, with the exception of the Netherlands, municipal government is seen as even more important than national government. The importance of local government reflects the prominent role of municipalities in shaping local policies and the provision of local goods, facilities and services. Here we explore whether or not the size of municipalities has an impact on how satisfied citizens are about the way in which municipalities take care of their responsibilities. The population size of local governments has not been a prominent factor in modelling citizens’ satisfaction with local government performance. This is perhaps not so surprising, in as much as many studies have been designed as case studies of one or only a few cities (see e.g. Benton & Daly 1992; Das et al. 1995; Van Ryzin 2004; Winter & Mouritzen 2001).

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