After the Merger: Do Citizens Want Democratic Innovations?

Krister Lundell, Maija Karjalainen, Henrik Serup Christensen


Democratic innovations are often considered a solution to the widespread citizen disengagement from politics at both national and local levels of government. However, it is still not clear what forms of engagement citizens prefer and whether the innovations can help sustain popular involvement in times of political turmoil. In this study, we examine whether inhabitants consider democratic innovations to be an important way to sustain citizen engagement after a municipal merger and whether introducing new ways of involvement can help mobilise otherwise disengaged groups of citizens. The data come from a survey answered by 2000 respondents in 14 current municipalities in the Turku region of Southwest Finland. The 14 municipalities are all currently involved in plans for a municipal merger to create a larger municipality. In the survey, we ask the respondents about their attitudes towards the use of various democratic innovations in the case of a municipal merger. The results suggest that citizens consider democratic innovations as important for creating a functioning democracy after a municipal merger. However, it is unlikely that democratic innovations will mobilise people not already involved in politics, regardless of the characteristics of the previous municipality.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413