Governance and Democracy katarsis survey Paper



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CAHIERS DU CRISES 

 COLLECTION ÉTUDES THÉORIQUES 



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plurality of actors and by the hybridisation of the diverse forms of governance is possible in 

the context of current-day capitalism.

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In Quebec, three forms of governance (public, partnership-based, and neoliberal) have taken 



place successively throughout the past forty years. However, two main forms predominated: 

public governance (1960–1980) and partnership-based governance (1981–2003). The rise to 

power of the “Parti libéral du Québec” (PLQ) in 2003 and its more neoliberal agenda have 

challenged them favouring a more competitive mode of governance based on PPPs (public and 

private partnerships). The agenda also included the consultation of individual citizens that 

were randomly chosen to participate in various forums, which challenged both the mechanism 

of joint action with collective actors, and the partnership-based forms of governance. 

However, these directions have had to adapt to the instituted modes of decision-making and 

the Quebec Liberal Party has not been able to dismantle the Quebec model as it had foreseen. 

Indeed, recent neoliberal politics have reoriented some of Quebec model underlying social 

arrangements but have not been able to dissolve them.  

The case of Quebec thus highlights the complexity in which new modes of governance appear, 

which aspire to be more inclusive and to aim at consensus. Contradictions between path 

dependency and liberal transformations allow for exploiting economic and political, social and 

authoritarian traces of emerging liberal modes of governance. Principles based on liberal 

ideology, such as openness and accountability are opposed to traditional patterns of 

clientelism and patronage, as the Greek case indicates (Wassenhoven 2007). Their application 

would lead to increased opportunities for social inclusion. The cases of the Tower Colliery and 

Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre show the importance of linking these principles to the 

notions of socio-economic citizenship and participation to create possibilities for the 

emergence of socially creative strategies.  

In contrast new kinds of authoritarian traits also emerge with the adoption of some of the 

proposed elements of the European governance agenda (EC 2003). Problems occur in 

connection with decentralization and devolution, which is an important process in the 

implementation of the new principles. In some cases, decentralization led to the proliferation 

of clientelist patterns, as the local “chiefs” have been granted more power (Hutchcroft 2001). 

These tendencies can be reinforced by the increasingly important role of the “strong mayor“ in 

many European cities (Borraz/John 2004). Another important issue in newly emerging 

multilateral governance settings – consensual arrangements – also poses problems, which are

 

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  The following paragraph was written by Jean-Marc Fontan, Denis Harrisson, Juan-Luis Klein, Benoit Lévesque (CRISES, Université du 

Québec à Montréal). 




GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRACY 

 KATARIS PROJECT



 

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somehow linked to the EU-governance-principles of effectiveness and coherence. Concerning 

“coherence”, a “hegemonic consensus” (García/Claver 2003; García et al. 2007: 6) is 

emerging, which Oberhuber (2005) calls “mainstreaming” in his discourse analytical study of 

the drafting of the European Constitution. This means that “a ‘stream’ of communications is 

inconspicuously but steadily narrowed down, extremes on both sides are discarded, divergent 

questions and issues are marginalized, deviant positions ignored or ostracized, the stock of 

taken-for-granted assumptions, which must not be called into question, thus, is accumulated, 

and a dominant discourse (a ‘mainstream’) is established” (Oberhuber 2005: 177). As García 

et al. (2007: 6) also note for local governance in Barcelona, “institutions exercise strategic 

selectivity, meaning giving support (or even co-optation) to certain grassroots activities and 

repressing others according to specific interests”, with “the purpose of legitimising decisions 

taken in advance” (ibid.). Within the discourse of technically “efficient” solutions, questions 

on who benefits from the “hegemonic consensus” mostly remain untouched.  

Many newly emerging multilateral governance arrangements tend to favour short-term output 

efficiency at the expense of long-term democratic legitimacy and socio-economic 

sustainability undermining the legitimacy of European integration (Peters/Pierre 2004). But 

liberal governance is not limited to one outcome and a pre-given mainstream. The case of 

Tower Colliery pointed out a strategy of “deviant mainstreaming” which might extend the 

dominant modes of governance towards more progressive variants like the “Quebec Model” 

which is a “pluralist, almost hybrid mode of governance” which has been able to put brakes on 

the imposition of a pure neoliberal model (Fontan et al. 2007: 6ff.). The case studies pointing 

at socially creative strategies thus all highlight notions of socio-economic citizenship and 

citizen’s governance, representing alternatives to the “hegemonic” consensus, where technical 

efficiency is prevalent to social and democratic goals. This is achieved within the framework 

of neoliberal restructuring, but reinforcing the notion of citizens’ rights, which should not be 

reduced to formal political rights, but have to include social as well as economic rights. 

During Fordism, in Western and Northern Europe the welfare state provided the basis for 

granting social and political rights via the provision of a social wage, via liberal democracy 

and state-provided services. In the economic sphere, co-participation existed via corporatist 

arrangements, where trade unions could negotiate working conditions with employers’ 

representatives. In the newly emerging market and multilateral governance arrangements, 

services tend to be privatized or run within public–private partnerships. This leads to 

exclusionary dynamics but also opens up new opportunities for socially creative strategies in a 

sense of bottom-up approaches to socioeconomic rights. These approaches have been shown 

by the case studies of Porto Alegre and the Tower Colliery, where the newly emerging 

governance arrangements opened up space for increased socio-economic participation. 





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