Going Local: Determinants of Institutional Changes of Local Government and their Implications for Political Participation and Political Decision-Making in West European Democracies

Research question/goal: 

Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s a wave of local government reforms took place in many West European countries. These reforms changed both the administrative structures and the political institutions of local government. In addition, they set incentives for new patterns of political participation and for variation in the decision-making processes of political actors as well as in the outcomes of the political process across the local units of a political system. The first aim of the project is to analyse why and how political actors changed the local institutional setting. In a second step, we are asking what effects these institutional changes and their impact on the policy output have on the citizens’ degree of satisfaction with the political system and on their degree of political participation. Furthermore, we seek to analyse the impact of partisan composition of local parliaments and governments regarding the policy-making process. To answer these questions, the project builds on theories on institutional change and local government reforms and combines this with a principal-agent perspective in multilevel systems.

Current stage: 

The project is currently in the stage of expanding the already existing dataset. Thus far, we collected and processed election manifestos of local parties in major German cities and prepared four manuscripts dealing with patterns of local party politics and (legislative) coalition formation. These papers were presented at workshops, are under review at international journals and some of them were already published. In addition, we use the data on local party and coalition politics to analyse government formation in semi-presidential systems.

Fact sheet

2013 to 2017
in preparation
Data Sources: 
Survey Data, Social Structural Data, Election Manifestos
Geographic Space: 
Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands



Gross, Martin (2016): Koalitionsbildungsprozesse auf kommunaler Ebene: Schwarz-Grün in deutschen Großstädten. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. more