Belgeo : revue belge de geographie = Belgisch tijdschrift voor geografie = Belgische Zeitschrift fuer Geographie = Belgian journal of geography vol:2002 issue:3 pages:277-294
Engaging the citizen is one of the main objectives behind the emergence of governance in the policy making process. The former top down approach, in which there are strong hierarchical relationships and a large distance between policy and citizen, is replaced by a new system with an important bottom up (local) input. In order to engage the citizen non traditional together with political actors become partners in the decision making process.
As by itself, from the nineties on, the governance idea gradually became a central focus in regional development policy. One of the driving forces behind this development is for sure the politically friendly global-local theory because it provides local politicians with an external enemy (the global) and a solution (the mobilisation of local actors in development coalitions).
From this perspective this contribution is analysing the developments in Europe and especially in Flanders, where subregional platforms act as development coalitions. The conclusion is reached that, within the necessary clear cut vision of the Flemish government on the role of regional policy and the different actors in it, with a real decentralisation of decision power and with the engagement the citizen in a form of participative democracy, these platforms can have a positive contribution in the setting up of a governance structure in which the citizen has a real participation in the policy making process. This as such makes it worthwhile. The contribution is more sceptical on the real impact of the development coalitions on economic processes. It is established that the territorial identification process is the more tangible outcome of the process. The supposed localised knowledge spillovers seem like academic wishful thinking.