Pro-Civic Representation? Citizens’ Participation in the Opinion of Finnish and Polish Local Councilors

Katarzyna Radzik-Maruszak, Arto Haveri, Agnieszka Pawłowska


In the recent years we have witnessed the growing criticism of the representative framework and the way it operates in many European countries. At the local level, numerous authorities try to answer the shortcomings of representation by applying new participatory agendas. This, however, not only influences the governing process, but also often leads to the clash between elected politicians and citizens. By examining the attitudes of local councilors from Finland and Poland toward citizens’ involvement, the present article contributes to the discussion on the coexistence of representative and participative schedules. The analysis draws on empirical data gathered in selected municipalities of both countries. The research findings demonstrate that, in spite of different governing models, the Finnish and Polish local representatives have quite similar, positive attitudes towards increasing the citizens’ direct involvement. However, they still consider voting in local elections the key instrument of civic engagement. The results of the research also display the barriers the expanded participative framework encounters and this can be interesting for local practitioners who design participative instruments and monitor their operation.


representation; participation; representative democracy; participative democracy; municipality; Finland; Poland.

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