A raft of United Nations Treaties, European Union Directives and domestic laws oblige governments in 180 + countries to apply the Participative Democratic Model of mainstreaming equalities to public administration by involving those targeted by equality initiatives at all stages in their design and delivery. Notwithstanding Participative Democratic Model’s deeply political nature, extant work has overlooked how governing party turnover influences civil society organisations’ (CSOs) strategies. Here, this lacuna is addressed using a negative ‘extreme case study’ research design involving qualitative accounts from civil society organisations in Wales, a ‘regional’ European polity characterised by one-party dominance. The findings reveal how the absence of turnover distorts the Participative Democratic Model in relation to diverse factors including: strategic bridging, extraparliamentary politics, cognitive locks and party institutionalisation. Inter alia, the wider contribution of this analysis lies in showing the importance of turnover to effective engagement, the ‘pathologies’ associated with one-party dominance and the need for adaptive civil society strategies tailored to prevailing electoral politics and governing party turnover in liberal democracies.
Published: January 2015