Book

Multilevel democracy (2020)

how local institutions and civil society shape the modern state

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Abstract

This volume presents the first systematic comparative analysis of national traditions of local democracy across the developed world, as well as their origins and evolution. It reveals how inclusive local institutions that integrate national and local governance make democracy work better. Across most of the developed world, early forms of the national state entrenched the local power of elites. In Anglo-American and Swiss democracies, state formation imposed enduring tensions with local civic governance. In contrast, inclusive, integrative local institutions in Northern Europe enabled close links with central government around common local and national agendas, producing better governance and fuller democracy to the present day. Through comparative analysis, the authors demonstrate how institutions for local governance and the participation of civil society differ widely among developed democracies, and how local democracy relates to national democracy. The resulting insights fundamentally recast our understanding of how to build and maintain more effective democracies.