Online and offline participation at the local level. A quantitative analysis of the Catalan municipalities
Type of work: Article (academic)
This article presents an analysis on local participatory experiences in Catalonia, both online and in-person. The analysis is based on a database set up by the authors. The article carries out an explanatory analysis of local participatory initiatives (on- and offline) taking into account political variables (not usually considered in this kind of analysis) and also classical socio-economic variables that characterize municipalities. Hence, we add a quantitative analysis to the numerous case studies on local e-participation experiences. We have chosen Catalonia because it is one of the European regions with more initiatives and a considerable local government support for citizen participation initiatives since the 1980s. The article offers a characterization of these experiences and an explanatory analysis, considering: (i) the institutional context in which these experiences are embedded, (ii) the citizen participation processes and mechanisms online and (iii) a set of explanatory variables composed of the population size and the province to which the municipality belongs, the political tendency of the mayor, the electoral abstention rate, age, income, level of education, broadband connection and users of the Internet in the municipality. The model that we present is explanatory for municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants but it is not for fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. Actually, the majority of these latter municipalities have not developed any participatory activities. Among all the variables, population size is the most influential variable and affects the influence of other variables, such as the political party of the mayor, the local abstention rate and the province.