a1 Associate professors, Department of Public Administration, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
In modern governing, a variety of actors in the public domain daily make decisions with consequences for the common good, but how these actors are held accountable to political representatives is not always clear. While representative democracy in most societies still functions as the traditional standard, deficits in democratic control are perceived. There is an exercise of power-without-corresponding-representation. At the same time modern citizens appear hard to engage in politics. Representation-without-corresponding-participation also appears. We address this dual problem, one of accountability and one of legitimacy, in terms of political theory. Various strategies are explored, indicating that some of them contribute to bringing democracy up to date more than others. In particular, it seems fundamental to rethink contemporary democracy by connecting it with the multi-dimensional character of governance. Functional participation by modern citizens can enhance the legitimacy of the exercise of power by making the latter accountable in a multi-local way.
(Online publication July 11 2011)