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Local interest representation in multi-level parties

Tildelt: kr 60 000

In the last two decades, there is a certain tension between two countervailing tendencies: On the one side, processes of decentralization can be observed in many European countries, and on the other side, local politics is increasingly lacking real politi cal autonomy because of financial restriction and since the political levels are increasingly interlinked. In these complex multi-level democracies, it is crucial for the local level to represent their interests also in the decision-making processes on th e higher levels of the political system. Political parties are one central vehicle for that kind of interest representation in modern multi-level democracies. Despite their importance, only recently as a result of the processes of European integration and sub-national regionalisation, attention to the role of state-wide political parties and their linkage function between levels of government has increased. So far, however, the conceptual work and research on multi-level parties focuses almost exclusive ly on the formal relations between the state, federal and the supra-national level while informal processes and particularly the local level are mostly ignored - despite its importance as the level of government closest to the citizens and its pivotal rol e in multi-level systems. In particular, there is a lack of qualitative policy studies to analyse, whether local interests are actually placed on the agenda in the regional, national and supra-national decision-making processes. Therefore, this project a sks: How are local interests represented through political parties on the higher levels of the political systems? And are there systematic differences in the type and degree of local interest representation in multi-level parties and how can these differe nces be explained? These questions will be analysed empirically in a comparative study including three countries (Germany, Spain, and Norway) based on policy studies and face-to-face interviews with party officials.




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