MOPAN Multi-party collaboration location:Keele University date:28-30 June 2010
Policy legitimacy is a broad concept. What makes policy legitimate? Policy that is effective and efficient? Or policy that was developed in a democratic way, according to certain rules and norms? Or should we take a more subjective perspective, implying that policy legitimacy hinges on the subjective evaluation by different individuals or organizations? In this paper we will argue that an increasing number and diversity of mechanisms of consultation and participation are being introduced in the policy making system so as to increase overall policy legitimacy. These different mechanisms often aim to cover different elements of policy legitimacy, such as performance, democracy, and legality. As there are different elements as well as perspectives constituting policy legitimacy, a range of mechanisms are introduced so as to cover the broad policy legitimacy spectrum. However, some questions can be raised as new mechanisms are being introduced in the policy making system, with effects such as an increasingly complex and not very transparent policy making process, competition between these mechanisms, competition between legitimacy perspectives, etc. This theoretical perspective on consultation and participation in the light of policy legitimacy, will be linked with results of some recent Flemish research on interactive policy processes, advisory bodies, etc.