The proliferation of local forms of governance problematizes the well-established and highly normative idea that power and democracy in Denmark are organized in terms of a 'parliamentary chain of government', according to which the sovereign people elect the parliament, which in turn controls the government that governs the public administration through bureaucratic control. Consecutive waves of devolution have decentralized the Danish welfare state, and the power of local governments is now being challenged by the emergence of new forms of local governance that involve a plethora of private stakeholders, such as business firms, interest organizations, community groups and individual citizens, in the formulation and implementation of public policy. This article argues that participation of private stakeholders in public policy-making cannot be reduced to an inferior supplement to traditional forms of representative democracy. The supplement is taking its revenge as the interactive policy arenas are expanding and the role of elected politicians is being transformed from sovereign rulers to meta-governors. This development poses important challenges to the demand for effective and democratic governing of society and the economy.
Journal of Power, 2010, Vol 3, Issue 3, p. 405-425