Regional reform and citizen participation in Sweden
Seven years ago the Swedish government launched a Regional Reform Programme with the aim of establishing a new intermediate level of governance alongside the national level and that of the local municipality. The conditions for achieving constructive institutionalization differ considerably in Skåne and Västra Götaland, the two regions participating in the pilot programme. However, the level of citizen participation (i.e. voter turnout in regional elections) in the two regions does not differ--in both regions, citizens have demonstrated tremendous indifference towards the new fora. One reason for this could be that the reform has to a very large degree been built on traditional political structures, which in turn have suffered a loss of credibility in the past decades. There might, however, also be reason to question the often presupposed link between a region's degree of socio-cultural consolidation and its acceptance as a vital and meaningful political entity.
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