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Foundation or fragment of local democracy? Empirically assessing the roles of local councillors in Belgian governance

Tom Verhelst (UGent) , Herwig Reynaert (UGent) and Kristof Steyvers (UGent)
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Abstract
It is often argued that local governance conflicts with the prescribed functioning of local councillors. We could wonder if councillors have become fragments of local democracy, rather than the foundation they are supposed to be. This article empirically assesses the classic role-set (representation, policy, control) of local councillors in Belgian governance. Besides pointing to a gap between theory and practice, it underlines a substantial discrepancy between councillors’ role attitude and subsequent behaviour. This democratic deficit seems mainly due to the informal decision-making culture in Belgian (local) politics, i.e. the dominance of the executive and stringent party discipline.
Keywords
NETWORKS, ACCOUNTABILITY, GOVERNMENT, LESSONS, EUROPE, POLICY, local councillors, role-set, governance, democratic deficit, Belgium, POLITICIANS, METAGOVERNANCE, DECISION-MAKING

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Chicago
Verhelst, Tom, Herwig Reynaert, and Kristof Steyvers. 2011. “Foundation or Fragment of Local Democracy? Empirically Assessing the Roles of Local Councillors in Belgian Governance.” Lex Localis-journal of Local Self-government 9 (2): 103–122.
APA
Verhelst, T., Reynaert, H., & Steyvers, K. (2011). Foundation or fragment of local democracy? Empirically assessing the roles of local councillors in Belgian governance. LEX LOCALIS-JOURNAL OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT, 9(2), 103–122.
Vancouver
1.
Verhelst T, Reynaert H, Steyvers K. Foundation or fragment of local democracy? Empirically assessing the roles of local councillors in Belgian governance. LEX LOCALIS-JOURNAL OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 2011;9(2):103–22.
MLA
Verhelst, Tom, Herwig Reynaert, and Kristof Steyvers. “Foundation or Fragment of Local Democracy? Empirically Assessing the Roles of Local Councillors in Belgian Governance.” LEX LOCALIS-JOURNAL OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT 9.2 (2011): 103–122. Print.
@article{1213308,
  abstract     = {It is often argued that local governance conflicts with the prescribed functioning of local councillors. We could wonder if councillors have become fragments of local democracy, rather than the foundation they are supposed to be. This article empirically assesses the classic role-set (representation, policy, control) of local councillors in Belgian governance. Besides pointing to a gap between theory and practice, it underlines a substantial discrepancy between councillors{\textquoteright} role attitude and subsequent behaviour. This democratic deficit seems mainly due to the informal decision-making culture in Belgian (local) politics, i.e. the dominance of the executive and stringent party discipline.},
  author       = {Verhelst, Tom and Reynaert, Herwig and Steyvers, Kristof},
  issn         = {1581-5374},
  journal      = {LEX LOCALIS-JOURNAL OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT},
  keyword      = {NETWORKS,ACCOUNTABILITY,GOVERNMENT,LESSONS,EUROPE,POLICY,local councillors,role-set,governance,democratic deficit,Belgium,POLITICIANS,METAGOVERNANCE,DECISION-MAKING},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {103--122},
  title        = {Foundation or fragment of local democracy? Empirically assessing the roles of local councillors in Belgian governance},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1695/2011002},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2011},
}

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