The role of the councillor

McGarvey, Neil and Stewart, Fraser (2018) The role of the councillor. In: The Routledge Handbook of International Local Government. Routledge International Handbooks . Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 54-69. ISBN 9781138234727

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    Abstract

    Local councillors play an integral role in the democratic process. Other than nationally elected members of parliament, councils remain in many states the only collective body subject to universal, democratic elections, and exist as a voter's most immediate link to governing power. Functions carried out by councillors, and the role they play within communities and local government, are thus essential to strong, localised democracy, despite claims that councillors are 'amateurish' or local politics incidental to an ever-globalising world. Indeed, such criticisms habitually ignore the intertwined elements of local, national and international decision-making, and in turn the crucial role councillors’ play in ensuring citizens and local interests remain represented therein. Without councillors, democracy overall would find itself drastically weakened, and the gulf between citizen and power widened. Local councillors thus provide a first port of call for citizens to have a say in the running of their towns, cities and communities where their voice would be lessened if national legislatures were the only forum of representation.