Citizen engagement and regional democracy
This project will assess whether regionalisation contributes to the development of more active civic arenas in the autonomous regions and nations of Spain and the United Kingdom. This research will evaluate whether some institutional settings and political parties as well as the smaller scale of regional politics encourage citizen participation. Citizen engagement is a vital element of democratic life and has been in decline over the last few decades. This research will assess whether the regional institutions of Spain and the UK did ‘bring democracy closer to the people’, a goal often associated with decentralisation reforms, and whether some regions and parties have made specific efforts to address this challenge. The development of regional government across Europe over the last twenty years has provided more opportunities for citizen engagement, from voting in regional elections to getting involved in regional parties and regional political organisations, via citizen forums and online petition systems. Regional political arenas therefore represent a fertile ground to test existing theories about political engagement and to investigate the development of distinct regional political arenas. By comparing different institutions and parties and their processes to engage with their citizens, this project will also represent a lesson-learning opportunity for institutions and parties. The grant will help kick-start a new research cycle focused on regional institutions and citizen engagement.