1e/2022: PARtTERRe - PARticipation and TERRitorial policies. Tools for policy-making and quality of local democracy

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  • Project duration: -
  • Project status: finished
  • Funding:
    Provincial P.-L.P. 14. Mobility (Province BZ funding /Project)
  • Total project budget: €5,000.00

The quality of local democracy and the lives of citizens depend on the development and good management of territories. The territorial reforms that are periodically pursued in Italy and Europe, often in conjunction with periods of crisis, directly affect the territories and their populations. How best to deal with them and how to allow citizens' participation in these public policies are the questions this research aims to answer.  
The project focuses on aspects that link local public policies to the territorial structures of autonomy and the participation of citizens in the communities concerned. At a time when links between politics and citizenship have weakened and distrust of institutions and politics dominates, the research examines a public policy (territorial reorganization) that directly concerns autonomies, local competences, municipal boundaries, territorial identities and relates it to different forms of citizens' political participation in South Tyrol and in some related areas for historical, cultural, geographical and linguistic reasons, such as the province of Trento and the Austrian Länder of Tyrol and Styria. The link between citizen participation and the impact of public policies is indeed very close: the participation of the communities concerned is essential for the acceptance, legitimization, and success of policies and their reforms. 

The project is organized in 5 working packages (WPs): four of them (WP1-4) constitute the scientific part of the project while the last one (WP5) is dedicated to dissemination-dissemination-impact activities. Purpose, tasks and scope of analysis, and expected products for each WP are detailed below (see also the GANTT chart).


Purpose - WP1 is intended to achieve two goals: 1) to update the two best known local self-government indexes available to date, currently updated to 2010 and 2014 respectively - the Regional Authority Index (RAI) (Hooghe et al. 2016) and the Local Authority Index (LAI) (Ladner et al. 2019) - in order to obtain the widest possible overview (whose magnitude will depend on the response rate to the expert survey) of the value of these indices to 2020. 2) construct, on the basis of the LAI and RAI, a more specific and precise multi-level territorial autonomy index (TEMAI) that takes into account the policy of territorial reorganisation and research case studies. WP1 intends to create a comparative knowledge base in order to better integrate national (Italy and Austria) and regional cases (the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, Styria and Tyrol).

Tasks and scope - WP1 is divided into 4 tasks. The first one (1.1) is dedicated, on the one hand, to the construction of the panel of experts and to the contact with them and, on the other hand, to the drafting and preparation of the survey and to possible in-depth interviews via telephone/skype, if and where necessary. The second (1.2) proceeds in the same way for the LAI. The two expert panels will largely coincide. The third task (1.3) is dedicated to the preparation of the specific survey on the territorial multilevel authority index (TEMAI) for the two autonomous provinces and the two Austrian Länder. The panel of experts will be composed of the scholars surveyed in 1.1 and 1.2 for Italy and Austria and possibly integrated with other specialist scholars from the regions analysed. The fourth (1.4) consists of the composition and organisation of the datasets.

Products - WP1 will produce three datasets on RAI (Deliv_1.1), LAI (Deliv_1.2) and TEMAI (Deliv_1.3), which will be made public at the end of the project, to be evaluated whether jointly or separately. On the basis of the three datasets, an article in English will be elaborated and submitted to a prestigious international peer-reviewed journal (Deliv_1.4) with the results of the three indexes. 


Purpose - WP2 aims to understand the reasons for possible variations in the autonomy indices in the countries that will be included in the datasets for LAI and RAI, and in the regions selected for TEMAI, also using quantitative models where possible. This WP aims to try to explain how and why the degree of multi-level territorial autonomy varies also in relation to reforms (implemented or not) of reorganization. Starting from the characteristics of the 4 regions/provinces considered (e.g. territorial, infrastructural, but also political peculiarities) and based on a series of indicators suggested by the literature to face the reordering policy, we will try to identify the determining factors of these possible variations, and to explain the possible role of the (failed or implemented) reordering processes.

Tasks and scope - The first (2.1) of the four tasks of WP2 is to identify, on the basis of the existing literature, the variables that can enter the models for the RAI and LAI indices at a comparative level, the second (2.2) to construct and refine the models themselves, distinguished by index. The third and fourth tasks (2.3-2.4) are similar but aimed at constructing explanatory models for the TEMAI.

Products - One (or two, to be evaluated according to the results emerged) article in English to be submitted to a prestigious international peer-reviewed journal (Deliv_2.1, ev. Deliv_2.2).

Products - One (or two, to be evaluated according to the results emerged) article in English to be submitted to a prestigious international peer-reviewed journal (Deliv_2.1, ev. Deliv_2.2).


Purpose - In WP3 we go down in depth into the analysis of the four case studies by linking the specific tool for the territorial reorganisation of mergers of municipalities with the various types of political participation in the two groups (merged and non-merged municipalities) in the 4 selected areas, in order to identify the differences and give possible interpretations. The relations between the territorial autonomy indexes, in particular the one created in the first part of the research, and the levels of political participation (electoral but not only) in the four regions considered in this research will be explored. In this WP the analysis will be carried out in order to give an account of the differences, both country by country and at comparative level, between those areas that have carried out territorial reorganisation and those that have not.

Tasks and scope - Electoral participation will be measured by the turnout rate at the various elections. Elections at various territorial levels held before and after the 2012 drafting, as well as any territorial reorganisation processes that may have taken place in the case studies, will be considered elections at various territorial levels. Other types of citizen participation will be surveyed in the same way, through measurements at an aggregate level such as the Democracy Barometer or those proposed by Denters et al. (2014). The comparison between the two groups of municipalities in the 4 cases will be made, if possible, using the Difference in Differences (DiD) technique. The first task (3.1) is therefore to collect data on merged and non-merged municipalities and to select them, as well as on the various types of citizen participation at aggregate level in the municipalities of the 4 regions. The second will consist of compiling the aggregated data and comparisons between the two groups (merged and non-merged municipalities) (3.2).

Products - An article in English to be submitted to a prestigious international peer-reviewed journal (Deliv_3.1).


Purpose - WP4 aims to prepare an exploratory survey on the possible links between processes of merging municipalities and political participation, in particular whether and how the latter can determine the outcomes of reorganisation processes. It will attempt to provide interpretative hypotheses based on the empirical data collected and the initial evidence/results and to prepare a set of hypotheses and QRs on this basis to develop possible future research.

Tasks and scope - In a sample of municipalities in the analyzed territories, the privileged interlocutors with whom to interact will be identified and their willingness to undergo questionnaires and/or interviews (4.1) carried out, again using tools such as surveymonkey or googlesurvey and/or face-to-face and by telephone, during a wide period of time (4.2) so that the results of the other parts of the research will also be brought together. 

Products - A research report, drafted in Italian and German, including hypotheses and possible QRs, which can provide a basis for future research on the theme of citizen participation in territorial reorganisation processes and, more generally, public policies concerning borders and the concept of territory (Deliv_4.1).


Purpose - WP5 focuses on dissemination and impact of the project. In addition to participation in major international and national political science conferences where partial research results will be presented during the entire research period, two round tables/seminars will be held in order to discuss the research results and to disseminate them on the territory and at the level of local institutions. 

Tasks and scope - The three tasks of WP5 will be, respectively, dissemination to conferences/seminars/SummerSchools etc... (5.1), preparation of the scientific seminar (5.2) and preparation of the seminar/presentation to local authorities (5.3), which will close the research and present and discuss the main results.

Products - The products will be - in addition to the participation in the conferences (also indicated with Deliv_5.1) and the final meetings organized (Deliv_5.2, Deliv_5.4) - the drafting of two final reports that will be presented during the planned seminars/presentations (Deliv_5.3, Deliv_5.5).

Context-driven Local Autonomy. The importance of differentiated assessments in asymmetric countries
Bolgherini S, Klotz G, Fromm UL (2021)
Journal article
Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée

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National and local effects in the Italian regional elections (2018-2020): Beyond second-order election expectations?
Bolgherini S, Grimaldi S, Paparo A (2021)
Journal article
Contemporary Italian Politics

Differentiated Local Autonomy in Italy (2020)
Bolgherini S, Klotz G, Lennart Fromm U (2020)

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Local Autonomy in selected Alpine Regions (2020)
Bolgherini S, Klotz G, Lennart Fromm U (2020)

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Project Team
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Silvia Bolgherini

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