ABSTRACT

Councils of the municipal as well as of the second level of local government have traditionally been seen as representative bodies, i.e. a core institution of a particular understanding of democracy – namely representative or ‘liberal’ democracy. This model of democracy stresses (a) the individual’s right to participate in general elections and by this, the aggregation of individual preferences to form policy guidelines for those in representative bodies or in government and (b) the option to make the latter accountable to the individual citizen through general elections. However, it is an open question whether or not councillors have an understanding of democracy according to this model – or one which goes beyond this model by considering the relationship between broader forms of participation (beyond participating in elections) and democracy. 1

In previous publications (Heinelt 2013a, 2013b, 2014) I have shown that municipal councillors clearly have an understanding of democracy either in line with the representative or a broader participatory model. Furthermore, I have also shown that the municipal councillor’s role perception and behaviour as well as their attitudes towards reforms depend on their notion of democracy. It will be show in this paper if this holds true also for councillors of the second tier of local government.