Does Informality Matter in German Local Policy Making?
Author: ANDREA WALTER
Published in GPS, Vol. 9 No. 1
Close Proximity between actors is a typical characteristic of local level politics. Citizens are directly affected by political issues and the distances be-tween actors from the local public administration, the elected officials, and members of organized civil society are much shorter than at the state or federal level. These aspects raise the question as to the role of informal political communication in local politics as well as to its importance. From a local governance perspective, this article aims to analyze the extent to which elements of local informal communication between actors from the local public administration, the municipal council, and organized civil society can be identified in processes of policy making. The main argument, supported by this analysis, is that informal political communication is important in processes of policy making. It provides a complementary role to any formal communication. There is empirical evidence that informal political communication serves mainly as a proscenium in formal processes of policy making at the local level. The results are illustrated by a case study about informal political communication patterns between the local public administration, the municipal council, and organized civil society in the field of environmental policy in the city of Münster (Germany). The study is based on thirteen expert interviews.