John Loughlin, Frank Hendriks and Anders Lidström

in The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199562978
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations


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  • Regional Political Studies
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From 1945 to 1975, the ‘nationalization’ of governance gathered a pace through the centralization and bureaucratization of public policy programmes which left the national and regional authorities as primarily agents with the function of delivering welfare services on behalf of the central governments. Although local authorities could become powerful in this scenario, in reality, their political autonomy was diminished. Furthermore, during this period democracy was accepted primarily as representative democracy, and other forms such as direct and participatory democracy as undesirable. During the 1960s however, there was a growing interest in other forms of democracy. This and the crises of the nation-state in the 1970s and 1980s catalyzed important changes in the theory and practice of democracy in Europe. Neo-liberalism reforms were introduced to the economic policies as well as in the territorial governance of the nations. It shifted the ‘principal-agent’ model of governance in European nations to decentralized governance. In this book, twenty-nine country cases are examined through their state traditions and models of democracy to understand subnational democracy in Europe. State traditions determine the conditions within which democracy, at both national and subnational levels, is understood and practiced in each nation. And models of democracy determine each of the nation's democratic practices through the following typology of democracy: pendulum democracy, consensus democracy, voter democracy, and participatory democracy.

Keywords: governance; political autonomy; democracy; Europe; neo-liberalism reforms; territorial governance; decentralized governance; state traditions

Article.  9256 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Regional Political Studies ; Comparative Politics

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