See Panel overview

Local democratic audit

Panel 9: Local Democratic Audit: Assessing the democratic qualities of local governance

Chaired by: prof. dr. Bas Denters (UT), prof. dr. Marcel Boogers (UT)

In this panel, all who contribute to the Dutch Local Democratic Audit (LDA)-project are invited to present their research on the various aspects of Dutch local democracy. Other scholars who want to present their research on local democracy issues are welcome as well. Within the LDA project, political scientists and public administration scholars assess the quality of Dutch local democracy, based on recent research. The LDA is a local extension of the National Democratic Audit (Andeweg & Thomassen, 2011). In many other countries, scientists have evaluated the quality of democracy with similar democratic audits.

Within the LDA, we distinguish three aspects of local democracy:

a)Local government and democracy

  • Local autonomy, central-local relations, decentralization
  • The accountability of multi-actor and multi-level local governance

b)Representative democracy

  • Local elections: the determinants of local voter turnout and electoral choices
  • Local councils and councilors
  • Mayor and Aldermen
  • Local political organizations: party branches and independent locals
  • Corporatist supplements: territorial and sectoral advisory councils

c)Participative democracy

  • Local referendums
  • Deliberative and participative experiments
  • Participatory budgeting, interactive policy making
  • 'Big society’ - citizen initiatives, grass roots governance

Research questions

For each theme, the following research questions are leading:

1.How does this aspect of local democracy function? Who exerts democratic influence and how? What are relevant developments? How do the involved actors evaluate this aspect of local democracy.

2.What is ‘local’ in local democracy? On what level (neighborhood, municipality, region, province, state) are local issues defined, on what level are decisions being made, on what level are they executed? What democratic problems of scale are at play and how are they resolved?

3.How can the democratic quality of this aspect be assessed, and what are relevant criteria for this assessment?


prof. dr. Bas Denters, School for Management and Governance, University of Twente (NL), email:

prof. dr. Marcel Boogers, School for Management and Governance, University of Twente (NL), email: