Representation Asymmetry and Business Penetration in Public Policy: the Case of Klaipëda Local Self-Government

Gabrielė Burbulytė, Saulius Žostautas

Abstract


The article deals with the problem of representation in the area of local public policy. Representation is a crucial element of any democratic society. The democratic society should be reflected as sharp as possible in the representative institutions. Otherwise, if the reflection of society’s structure is distorted, there will be a great danger to fall into the asymmetry of democracy. Contemporary public administration extended the traditionally political notion of representation into the area of bureaucracy. The distinction between the passive and the active representation was developed. Despite that there is no consensuses of whether the passive representation always leads to the active one, the authors of the article keep a premise that most often the passive representation leads to the active one, but it may become a negative point if the passive representation is not the sharp one. While the local council is considered as a subject of public administration in Lithuania, the authors of the article choose to research how sharp the local council of Klaipëda represents the community of the city. The problem is relevant because the contemporary public policy is increasingly oriented towards the notion of public governance. Applying the casestudy method and analytical statistics, article analyzes the last four elections to the local council of Klaipëda. Due to the wide scope of the topic, the object of the research is divided into the four main structural components: representation of gender, nationality, age-group, and occupation. Additionally, the diversity effect is calculated applying the Blau index. The research proved that the passive representation in the local council is not the sharp one. Among all, the distinct domination of only two - business and education - occupational groups revealed that there are negative tendencies in the development of local democracy. Two of them are of the greatest menace: 1) prevailing of business leaders might lead to the market relationships in the processes of solving social problems, 2) governing may become available only for the privileged closed stratas what jeopardize the fading of democracy. Knowing that passive representation may lead to the active one, it is possible to envisage the predominance of the certain interests’ implementation what leads to the so called asymmetry of democracy.

Keywords


public governance; local self-government; representation; diversity effect

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603