Problems, challenges and opportunities




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Chapter 5 : Tensions in developing democracy


This document has developed an analysis of the Council of Europe’s understanding of democracy as articulated in its acquis. As part of that analysis it has sought to understand not only the various values that underpin the acquis but also the strengths and weaknesses of its current texts in supporting and developing democracy. One of the key conclusions from this analysis is that the acquis is not a settled and finished product that the Council can now put to one side. Indeed, far from this position, the analysis recognises the intemporal nature of democracy and the need to continually renew its institutions to guard against democratic atrophy or redundancy. The development of democracy has reached the point at which the Council, and other pan-European and national organisations, need to take some important decisions on the direction that democracy should evolve. This chapter raises some of the questions and tensions that need to be reflected upon as part of that decision-making process.


There are clearly tensions and contradictions in the acquis as presented in earlier chapters. Indeed, such tensions and contradictions are inevitable given the rich development that it has been through and the changing nature of democratic practice among a rapidly expanding membership. However, even if there are tensions and an element of incoherence within the acquis there is, nevertheless, clearly some general understanding of the core principles that underpin the Council’s work in the area of democratic standards. A significant proportion of conventions, charters, recommendations, resolutions and other adopted texts begin by reiterating the Council’s belief in a common heritage that is shared by all member states. The problem occurs when the discussion of democracy moves beyond these core principles to the process of enactment through various instruments. Two potential problems exist.


First, different pillars of the Council of Europe, different conventions and charters, and different working groups, are all seeking to define the “democratic problem” and to address it in their own way. For some it is a problem of legitimacy in relation to the activities of representation. For others, there is a crisis in citizenship which relates to the institutional opportunities at the local level. For yet others, the problem is one of social or political exclusion of particular groups and an absence of adequate opportunities for engagement. The responses to such problems are equally diverse, ranging from an emphasis upon ethical standards for public administrators through to citizenship education and the development of enhanced participation opportunities using new technologies. None of these definitions, or their solutions, is necessarily problematic for the development of democracy in Europe. Indeed, the wide range of initiatives is a clear demonstration of the importance of democratic enhancement to the Council’s work. However, there is a clear need to pin down the different definitions of democracy that are being used within the Council if the future direction of democracy in Europe is to be considered. Understanding the problems that different democratic institutions are facing is part of the first step in “surfacing” the values of European democracy.


Second, there is a potential problem around the way in which different democratic instruments of the Council of Europe are interpreted in different nation states. Differences in political cultures and expectations may lead to different instruments gaining priority and different interpretations being placed upon the meaning of some resolutions. The Council’s acquis includes a wealth of information on compliance with conventions and charters and wider democratic practice. However, this documentation does not reveal any overarching or thematic exploration of differences in interpretation that may lead to very different practices in different democracies. Indeed, reports often assume an ideal type model that countries are failing to live up to, even though it is evident that such an ideal type has not been clearly articulated or thought through.


In many respects, this second problem is one that arises from the realistic acceptance of “variable geometry”. It is revealed, for example, in the development of the regional charter on local self-government. The background papers to the draft charter recognise that different states have different forms of regional government: indeed, some even have different systems within their own borders. However, under the auspices of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe there is now a growing movement of “regions with legislative assemblies” to have their own rights and powers within the Council of Europe’s framework. While not necessarily challenging any of the other democratic practices that the Council promotes, these regions will have different opportunities from others without legislative powers, providing a potential area of cleavage in the future.


This second broad problem is really one of interpretation and enforcement. To what extent should democracy be recognisably similar in all member states of Europe, how much should democratic laggards or leaders change what they are doing, and how much should the Council be pushing the democratic boundaries? These are questions that can be explored through two tensions that remain implicit in the Council’s work: convergence or divergence in relation to particular democratic standards and practice; stability or change in relation to the impact of particular innovations and their effect on democratic values. These tensions are not necessarily dichotomous, although they are presented in this way here, because they represent decisions for the builders of democratic institutions in Europe.


Convergence or divergence?


Although the Council of Europe has existed for over fifty years, more than half of its membership has joined in the last two decades. There is an important but, often, implicit distinction between the old and established democracies that are long standing and influential members of the Council on the one hand, and newer democracies that have joined more recently on the other. Such a distinction raises questions about the direction that the Council is taking towards democracy. Is the purpose of the various charters, resolutions and recommendations adopted by the Council’s organs to apply a common standard across all of Europe’s democracies (the lowest common denominator) or is it to shape the direction in which democracy is evolving?


Of course these two scenarios are not necessarily in competition with one another. It is perfectly feasible to consider some countries to be establishing a minimum base of democratic practice while others are rapidly extending their democratic possibilities. Indeed, in some respects, it is necessary for newer democracies to go through this process, in order to establish the informal civic infrastructure and institutional norms that sustain established democracies. Furthermore, the problems faced by different countries are not the same and do not require the same responses. Some established democracies may need to take different steps from newer democracies. However, in so far as the various countries across Europe learn from one another and take cues about what is appropriate, then there are potential clashes of interest. One example is in relation to secrecy of the vote, a principle enshrined in Article 3 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. Experiments with remote voting (either by post or electronic form) potentially compromise the ability for individuals to vote in private, thereby protecting the secrecy of the vote. While the problem is notionally the same in all communities, in practice it is likely to have very different consequences according to the socio-political culture in which remote voting is being introduced. In this instance, and many others like it, the tension between convergence and divergence is potentially profound.


Related to this question is a converse problem of whether the standards being applied to newer democracies are being met by the established ones. Electoral practice in many established democracies, for example, does not meet the standards which are prescribed under the Council of Europe and to which they are signatories. Electoral law in the United Kingdom, for example, does not allow for the independent monitoring of elections by outside bodies unless the returning officer in each constituency provides consent. Such consent is at the discretion of the returning officer. This secrecy would be deemed an illegal and highly suspicious practice in many of the newer democracies. The expectation that there should be convergence around particular standards or practices, therefore, cuts both ways. Older democracies also need to assess their activities and the extent to which they live up to the standards that they prescribe for newer democracies.


In reality, the tension between convergence and divergence is a false dichotomy. In setting out democratic standards, the Council and other European-wide bodies are inevitably encouraging a degree of convergence. At the same time, a degree of divergence is not only accepted but expected in the development of effective democratic institutions. The point being made here, however, is that those interpreting the acquis or designing further institutional reforms should be attentive to these potential contradictions and be aware of both the limitations of convergence and dangers of too much divergence.


Stability or change?


Building from this attention to convergence and divergence, there is a concomitant need to be aware of the relationship between stability and change in the development of democratic institutions. There is a tendency to see institutions, especially those, such as democracy, with a long historical evolution, as being relatively stable entities. Change, in this context, is gradual and incremental. The problem with this perception of democratic institutions is that it ignores the impact of external events on the institutions of democracy. In particular, this tension is concerned with how much the practice of democracy and the standards by which it is judged are being subject to systemic or deliberate change.


The problem here relates to the one around convergence or divergence in so far as it is concerned with the extent to which the Council and other pan-European bodies should be promoting a settled vision of democracy and its institutions. Political and democratic practices vary greatly across the forty-five member states, reflecting the different socio-economic, political, demographic, cultural and geographic features of Europe. These different countries face a number of democratic problems, many of which are common but all of which are subject to local variation and present themselves in different ways accordingly. Establishing stability in such an environment is complex and unadvisable: it also does not reflect the intemporal nature of democracy and the need to periodically reinvigorate democratic institutions.


As the previous chapter demonstrated, however, deliberate or conscious institutional change is not easily achieved. While there are certain design principles that can mitigate the problems of institution building, these do not guarantee success. However, a focus on conscious reform which recognises the drivers of change and builds institutions based upon a conscious articulation of values and objectives is preferable to change which is simply driven by, and responsive to, external forces. The danger of unconscious institutional change is that it leads to the emergence of transient and unsustainable institutional structures. Successful democratic institutions are those that reinforce the underlying principles of democracy and are sustainable over more than simply a short period of time. It is such criteria that should form the basis of any longer-term evaluation of democracy.


Conclusions


Democracy is, in many respects, the raison d’être of the Council of Europe. Indeed, it is a fundamental criterion of membership that states subscribe to broad democratic values and are based upon sound democratic institutions. The Council is also the only body at the pan-European level that is focused explicitly upon democracy: while other organisations support democratic developments, their focus is more upon security, economic and political co-operation across states. The Council, therefore, is uniquely placed as the primary vehicle to support, sustain and develop democratic institutions both within and among member states.


Despite never having previously spent time reflecting directly upon its contribution to democracy, the Council of Europe has developed an impressive acquis that makes an important contribution to the daily practice of democracy in all forty-five member states. This acquis establishes both the fundamental principles that different instruments are seeking to enact and the direction of reform that it is taking. While there remain tensions and contradictions in aspects of this acquis, its broad thrust and important contribution should not be ignored. In summarising and analysing the acquis, this document provides both the opportunity for the Council to reflect on the breadth of its achievements and to think more carefully about how it wants democracy in Europe to work in the future.



1. The future of democracy in Europe – trends, analyses, reforms (forthcoming, November 2004) Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

2. Parliamentary Assembly Opinion No. 221 (2000) on Armenia’s application for membership of the Council of Europe.

3. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, Opinion No. 12 (1999) on the initial draft world charter of local self-government (section III).

4. See especially Parliamentary Assembly Document 9951 on the future of democracy: strengthening democratic institutions.

5. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1353 (2003) on the future of democracy: strengthening democratic institutions, paragraph 8.

6. See P. Norris, Democratic phoenix: reinventing political activism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

7. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (97) 3 on youth participation and the future of civil society.

8. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (98) 8 on children’s participation in family and social life.

9. Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2003)3 on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making.

10. A full list of non-compliant countries is offered in Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1629 (2003) on the future of democracy: strengthening democratic institutions, paragraph vi.

11. For example Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1264 (2001) on the code of good practice in electoral matters; Committee of Ministers Declaration on the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters (13 May 2004.

12. See, for example, Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R 2000 (10) on codes of conduct for public officials; Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Recommendation 60 (1999) on political integrity of local and regional elected representatives.

13. Guarding the watchdog: the Council of Europe and the media, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2003.

14. See Women’s individual voting rights: a democratic requirement, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2002; Parliamentary Assembly Document 8916 (2000) on the participation of immigrants and foreign residents in political life in Council of Europe member states.

15. Parliamentary Assembly Document 9951 (2000) on the future of democracy: strengthening democratic institutions, paragraph 6.

16. See the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level, European Treaty Series No. 144; the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, European Treaty Series No. 148; Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (94) 9 concerning elderly people.

17. P. Hirst, Associative democracy: new forms of economic and social governance Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994.

18. R. Putnam, Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.

19. Integrated project “Making democratic institutions work”, document IP1 (2003)57E, “Proceedings of citizens’ forum: NGOs – Key players in democratic governance”.

20. R. Putnam, op. cit. (n. 18).

21. Address by Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, “The Council of Europe at the dawn of the 21st century”.

22. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1353, paragraph 6, op. cit. (n. 5).

23. Statute of the Council of Europe, European Treaty Series No. 001 (1949); The European Convention CONV 850/03, draft treaty for establishing a constitution for Europe (2003).

24. See P. Taggart and A. Szczerbiak, “Contemporary euroscepticism in the party systems of the European Union candidate states of Central and Eastern Europe”, European Journal of Political Research, 43:1, 2004, pp. 1-28.

25. P. Norris, “Young people and political activism: from the politics of loyalties to the politics of choice?”, paper given at the Council of Europe symposium “Young people and democratic institutions: from disillusionment to participation” (Strasbourg 27-28 November 2003).

26. See C. Pattie, P. Seyd and P. Whiteley, “Citizenship and civic engagement: attitudes and behaviour in Britain”, Political Studies 51:3, 2003, pp. 443-68.

27. P. Norris, op. cit. (n. 25) p. 6.

28. Ibid, p. 27.

29. See G. Parry, G. Moyser and N. Day, Political participation and democracy in Britain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; S. Verba, K. Schlozman and H. Brady, Voice and equality: civic voluntarism in American politics, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.

30. Statute of the Council of Europe, op. cit. (n. 30) preamble.

31. Address by Walter Schwimmer, op. cit. (n. 21).

32. Belarus is not longer a candidate for membership because its current political regime is not deemed to be democratic.

33. For an example of a recent monitoring report, see Committee of Ministers, Ministers’ Deputies Information Documents on the honouring of commitments by Bosnia and Herzegovina: report of the GR-EDS delegation on its visit of 20-23 October 2003 (Cm/Inf(2003)50.

34. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1589 (2003) on freedom of expression in the media in Europe, paragraph 11.

35. Highway to democr@cy – the Council of Europe and the information society, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2003.

36. A. Trechsel, R. Kies, F. Mendez, P. Schmitter, “Evaluation of the use of new technologies in order to facilitate democracy in Europe: E-democratising the parliaments and parties in Europe”, European Parliament, STOA, Directorate-General for Research.

37. Highway to democr@cy, op. cit. (n. 36).

38. Committee of Ministers Resolution 22 (1973) on the protection of the privacy of individuals vis-à-vis electronic data banks in the private sector; Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, European Treaty Series No. 108 (1981); Convention on Cybercrime, European Treaty Series No. 185 (2001).

39. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1120 (1997) on the impact of the new communication and information technologies on democracy; Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1121 (1997) on the instruments of citizen participation in representative democracy.

40. Committee of Ministers Declaration on a European policy for new information technologies (1999).

41. See A. Trechsel and F. Mendez, The European Union and e-voting. addressing the European Parliament’s internet voting challenge, London: Routledge; N. Kersting and H. Baldersheim (eds.) Electronic voting and democracy. A comparative analysis, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

42. See L. Pratchett with S. Birch, S. Candy, N. Fairweather, S. Rogerson, V. Stone, R. Watt and M. Wingfield, The implementation of electronic voting in the UK, London: Local Government Association, 2002.

43. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (97) on “Hate Speech”.

44. N. Kersting, op. cit. (n. 42).

45. Délibération No. 02-022 de la Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (demande d’avis No. 796151) www.clic-droit.com.

46. Luis Guijarro Coloma “E-voting in the region of Valencia (Spain)” in A. Trechsel and F. Mendez, The European Union and e-voting: addressing the European Parliament’s internet voting challenge, London: Routledge, 2004.

47. J. Loughlin, Subnational democracy in the European Union, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

48. Saward selects four: political equality, inclusion, expressive freedom and transparency, although he uses these as illustrative rather than definitive principles. See M. Saward, “Enacting democracy”, Political Studies 51/1, 2003, pp. 161-79.

49. This is an expression that Saward (ibid.) uses to refer to the way in which democratic procedures are sequenced.

50. Council of Europe, op. cit. preamble (n. 23).

51. J. Loughlin (2001) op. cit. (n. 48).

52. Statute of the Council of Europe, op. cit. (n. 23).

53. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 800 (1983) on the principles of democracy, section 6Bi (emphasis added).

54. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 980 (1992) on citizens’ participation in politics, paragraph 6-7.

55. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1121(1997) on instruments of citizen participation in representative democracy, paragraph 6.

56. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1154 (1998) on democratic functioning of national parliaments, paragraph 1.

57. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1353, paragraph 1, op. cit. (n. 5).

58. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1142 (1997) on parliaments and media.

59. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 584 (1975) on the broadcasting of national parliamentary debates.

60. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1121 (1997) op. cit. (n. 56).

61. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 980 (1992) on citizens’ participation in politics.

62. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1353, paragraphs 7 and 9, op. cit. (n. 5).

63. B. Barber Strong democracy: participatory politics for a new age, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

64. J. Schumpeter, Capitalism, socialism and democracy, London: Routledge, 1943 (reprinted 2000), p. 295.

65. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1142, op. cit. (n. 59).

66. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1516 (2001) on the financing of political parties; Venice Commission, “Guidelines and report on the financing of political parties”, document CDL-INF (2001) 8.

67. Venice Commission, “Report on the regime of parliamentary immunity”, document CDL-INF (1996) 007e.

68. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1353, paragraph 1, op. cit. (n. 5).

69. H. Klingeman, R. Hofferbert and I. Budge, Parties, policy and democracy, Boulder: West View Press, 1994, p.5.

70. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1516, paragraphs 1 and 3, emphasis added, op. cit. (n. 67).

71. Venice Commission, “Guidelines and report on the financing of political parties”, document CDL-INF (2001) 8, section 1A.

72. Committee of Ministers Rec(2003)4 on common rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns.

73. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Recommendation 86 (2000) on the financial transparency of political parties and their democratic functioning at the regional level.

74. Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, European Treaty Series No. 009, Article 3.

75. For example, Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1264 (2001) on the code of good practice in electoral matters; Committee of Ministers Declaration on the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters (13 May 2004.

76. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1500 (2001) on the participation of immigrants and foreign residents in political life in the Council of Europe member states. See also Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (81) 18 concerning participation at municipal level; Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (2001) 19 on the participation of citizens in public life.

77. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Resolution 134 (2002) on women’s individual voting rights: a democratic requirement.

78. Women’s individual voting rights: a democratic requirement, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2003.

79. Ibid, p.10.

80. S. Birch and B. Watt, “Remote electronic voting: free fair and secret?”, Political Quarterly 75:1, 2004, pp. 60-72.

81. Women’s individual voting rights: a democratic requirement, op. cit. (n. 79) p.10.

82. See D. Judge, Representation: theory and practice in Britain, London: Routledge, 1999.

83. R. Chapman (ed.), Ethics in public service for the new millennium, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000; A. Hondeghem, (ed.) Ethics and accountability in a context of governance and new public management, Amsterdam: IOS Press, 1998; T. Cooper, Handbook of administrative, ethics, New York: Marcel Dekker, 1994.

84. A. Lawton, Ethical management for the public services, Buckingham: Open University, 1998.

85. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (2000) 10 on codes of conducts for public officials.

86. Model initiative package on public ethics at the local level, online publication, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

87. Committee of Ministers Resolution (97) 24 on the twenty guiding principles for the fight against corruption.

88. See the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, European Treaty Series No. 173 (1999); Civil Law Convention on Corruption, European Treaty Series No. 174 (1999).

89.The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission)

90. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

91. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 834 (1978) on threats to the freedom of the press and television.

92. The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol No. 11, Article 10, paragraph 1.

93. Guarding the Watchdog, op. cit. (n. 13).

94. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1589 (2003) op. cit. (n. 35) paragraph 2.

95. Ibid, paragraph 14.

96. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (99) 1 on measures to promote media pluralism.

97. See, for example, Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1277 (1995) on migrants, ethic minorities and the media.

98. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1215 (1993) on the ethics of journalism, paragraph 5.i.

99. For a wider discussion see G. Stoker, “Introduction: Normative theories of local government and local democracy”, in D. King and G. Stoker (eds.) Rethinking local democracy, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996.

100. J. S. Mill Considerations on representative government, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991 (originally published 1861) p. 413.

101. A. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, London: Fontana, 1968 (originally published 1835).

102. See L. Pratchett, “Local autonomy, local democracy and the ‘new localism’”, Political Studies, Vol. 52, 2004, pp. 358-375.

103. European Charter of Local Self-Government, European Treaty Series No. 122.

104. Ibid, Article 4.3.

105. Ibid, Article 11.

106. Andorra, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro and Switzerland – and with a population of just 28 000, sub-central government is an irrelevance in San Marino.

107. Belgium, France and Georgia.

108. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Recommendation 39 (1998) on the incorporation of the European charter of local self-government into the legal systems of ratifying countries and on the legal protection of local self-government.

109. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Recommendation 118 (2002) on regions with legislative powers (see also Congress Report CPR (9) 5).

110. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Recommendation 138 (2003) on sustainable regions under global rules (see also Congress Report CPR (10) 5).

111. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Resolution 161 (2003), Congress Report CPR (10) 2, on the draft European Charter of regional self-government : progress of work for its adoption as an international convention.

112. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, European Urban Charter.

113. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (81) 18 concerning participation at municipal level; Committee of Ministers Recommendation R (2001) 19 on the participation of citizens in local life.

114. See Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (92) 5 on borrowing by local and regional authorities; Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (96) 3 on local authorities budgetary deficits and excessive indebtedness; Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (2000) 14 on local taxation, financial equalisation and grants to local authorities.

115. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (95) 19 on the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity.

116. A. de Tocqueville, op. cit. (n. 102).

117. R. Putnam, Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.

118. P. Norris, op. cit. (n. 25).

119. European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations, European Treaty Series No. 124 (1986).

120. Committee of Ministers Resolution 93 (38) on relations between the Council of Europe and international non-governmental organisations.

121. Venice Commission, “Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level”, document CDL INF (2001)10.

122. See Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 980 (1992) on citizens’ participation in politics; Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1121 (1997) on instruments of citizen participation in representative democracy.

123. Committee of Ministers Rec(2003)3 on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making.

124. Parliamentary Assembly Document 7781 on instruments of citizen participation in representative democracy.

125. Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1121 (1997) on instruments of citizen participation in representative democracy, paragraphs 6 and 13.

126. Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (2000) 5 on the development of structures for citizen and patient participation in the decision-making process affecting health care.

127. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Resolution 141 (2002) on the participation of foreign residents in local public life: consultative bodies.

128. Convention on the Participation of Foreign Residents in Public Life at Local Level, European Treaty Series No. 144 (1992).

129. See Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1428 (1999) on the future of senior citizens: protection, participation, promotion, and 1492 (2001) on the rights of national minorities.

130. See The future of democracy in Europe, op. cit. (n. 1).

131. M. Saward, “Enacting democracy”, Political Studies 51/1, 2003, pp. 161-79.

132. E. Ostrom, “An agenda for the study of institutions”, Public Choice, Vol. 48, 1986, pp 3-25.

133. A. Giddens, “Elements of a theory of structuration” in A. Elliot (ed.) Contemporary social theory, Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

134. V. Lowndes and D. Wilson, “Balancing revisability and robustness? A new institutionalist perspective on local government modernisation”, Public Administration, Vol. 81, No. 2, 2003.

135. J. Knight, Institutions and social conflict, Cambridge: CUP, 1992.

136. V. Lowndes and D. Wilson, “Social capital and local governance: exploring the international design variable”, Political Studies, Vol. 49, 2001, pp. 629-647

137. Local Government Chronicle, 30 May 2003, Emap Publications, United Kingdom.

138. J. Stewart, The nature of British local government, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000.

139. For a succinct but thorough and critical review of the application of path-dependence models to political processes, see P. Pierson, “Increasing returns, path dependence, and the study of politics”, American Political Science Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 2000, pp. 251-261.

140. Ibid, p. 257.

141. The analysis here is heavily influenced by Goodin’s seminal essay on institutional design; see R. Goodin, “Institutions and their design” in R. Goodin (ed.) The theory of institutional design, Cambridge: CUP, 1996.

142. Ibid, p. 28.

143. On the concept of the “everyday maker”, see M. Bevir and R. Rhodes, Interpreting British governance, London: Routledge, 2003.

144. Bo Rothstein has written eloquently on this point in: B. Rothstein “Political institutions: an overview” in R. Goodin and H. Klingemann (eds.) A new handbook of political science, Oxford: OUP, 1996, pp.133-166.

145. R. Goodin op. cit. (n. 142) pp. 41-42.

146. J. Dryzek, “The informal logic of institutional design” in R. Goodin (ed.) The theory of institutional design, Cambridge: CUP, 1996.

147. C. Hood, The art of the state, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998, p. 69.

148. Goodin, op. cit. (n. 142) p. 40.

149. C. Offe, “Designing institutions in East European transitions” in R. Goodin (ed.) The theory of institutional design, Cambridge: CUP, 1996, p. 199. 203.

150. Ibid, p. 204.

151. Goodin op. cit. (n. 142) p. 41.

152. Dryzek op. cit. (n. 147) p. 204.

153. For a fuller discussion of robustness/revisability criteria, see Lowndes and Wilson, op. cit. (n. 135).

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