Failure in Representation at the Local Government Level?

A Case Study

in Democratic Theory
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This article argues that democracy requires citizens to have confidence that their interests and concerns will be seriously considered by their elected representatives. Drawing on a case study of one municipality, the ability of citizens in small communities to have local issues considered by Council was examined. The nature of the municipality, the Council structure, and the ethos that required Councilors to take a “corporate” view of representation—representing the municipality as a whole rather than any particular community—were all factors limiting citizens' confidence that their concerns would be taken seriously by Council. This shortcoming in democracy at the local level is only partially offset by the municipality's Community Consultative Bodies. These aim to allow local communities to bring their issues before Council, however they operate unevenly and in parts of this municipality and in many other municipalities do not exist at all.