Democratic innovations in municipal planning: Potentials and challenges of place-based platforms for deliberation between politicians and citizens

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Abstract

In recent years, the importance of mobilizing citizens and local stakeholders in efforts to address climate change has been highlighted in both research and international climate governance. Despite an international resurgence of interest in institutional innovations for public engagement and a growing literature on democratic innovation, few have fully considered the effects of invited spaces in the form of formal local platforms for collaboration between public and private actors aimed at creating innovative climate policy solutions. This article assesses a model of ‘hybrid democracy’ in the form of a municipal institutional innovation designed as a ‘temporary committee’ consisting of elected councillors and appointed citizens who collaborate on designing a new local strategy for sustainable development. Using a qualitative approach, the article analyses the institutional design and the deliberations among the participants in the process. Two main findings emerge from the study. First, although there is a general appraisal of the more collaborative and participatory modes of engaging in deliberations, the politicians are reluctant to delegate power to non-elected actors. Second, the main effect of this hybrid model is enhanced legitimacy and a mutual understanding between politicians and citizens, rather than innovative policies and bold municipal climate governance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103317
JournalCities
Volume117
ISSN0264-2751
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Hybrid democracy
  • Institutional innovation
  • Local sustainable development policy
  • Place-based platforms

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