On Cross-Level Responsiveness in Multilevel Politics: A Comparison of Airport Expansions in Germany, Switzerland and the UK

  • Eike-Christian HornigEmail author
Part of the Comparative Territorial Politics book series (COMPTPOL)


The principle of democratic representation can either be facilitated or undermined in multilevel settings. At the same time, the state of representative democracy itself is being intensely discussed, with scholars either pointing towards a crisis or a transformation. Against this double background, Hornig takes a policy specific view on responsiveness across levels in the case of aviation infrastructure as a special variant of the democratic dilemma of multilevel politics. The author compares the performance of two ways of interest articulation in generating cross-level responsiveness: parliamentary representation of negatively affected local areas and the use of direct democracy. Specific challenges of aviation infrastructure policy as well as cross-level responsiveness are explored. Cases of airport expansion in a federal (Munich, Germany), a unitarian (London Heathrow, UK) and a semi-direct democratic system (Zürich Kloten, CH) are analysed. Given the scarcity of previous research on aviation infrastructure as an issue of multilevel politics and democracy, the following investigation is primarily of an exploratory nature. Yet its result puts the question of the capacity of representative systems, especially confronted with multilevel, cross-jurisdictional policy issues, into perspective. Cross-level responsiveness is possible and rather a result of representational shares of affected groups than of direct democracy.


Democracy Infrastructure policy Multilevel Representation Responsiveness 


  1. Benz, A. (2009a). Ein gordischer Knoten der Politikwissenschaft? Zur Vereinbarkeit von Föderalismus und Demokratie, Politische Vierteljahresschrift, 50(1), 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benz, A. (2009b). Politik in Mehrebenensystemen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benz, A., & Sonnicksen, J. (2017). Patterns of Federal Democracy: Tensions, Friction, or Balance Between Two Government Dimensions. European Political Science Review, 9(1), 3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer, D., & Hänni, M. (2018). Two Sides of the Same Coin? Congruence and Responsiveness as Representative Democracy’s Currencies. Policy Studies Journal, 46(1), 13–48.Google Scholar
  5. Crouch, C. (2004). Post-Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dahl, R. (1994). A Democratic Dilemma: System Effectiveness Versus Citizen Participation. Political Science Quarterly, 109(1), 23–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dalton, R. J. (2011). Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices: The Erosion of Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Griggs, S., & Howarth, D. (2013). The Politics of Airport Expansion in the United Kingdom Hegemony Policy and the Rhetoric of ‘Sustainable Aviation’. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hornig, E. (2017). Airport Expansions and Public Protests: The Democratic Dilemma of Vertically Asymmetric Policies. European Policy Analysis (EPA), 3(2), 324–342.Google Scholar
  10. Lijphart, A. (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Madison, J. (2000 [1787]). The Federalist No. 10. In The Federalist (Eds.), A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States (pp. 53–11). New York: The Modern Library.Google Scholar
  12. Merkel, W. (2014). Is There a Crisis of Democracy? Democratic Theory, 2(1), 11–25.Google Scholar
  13. Norris, P. (2011). Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Qvortrup, M. (2014). Conclusion. In M. Qvortrup (Ed.), Referendums Around the World: The Continued Growth of Direct Democracy (pp. 246–251). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Setälä, M. (2006). On the Problems of Responsibility and Accountability in Referendums. European Journal of Political Research, 45(3), 699–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Spoon, J., & Klüver, H. (2015). Voter Polarisation and Party Responsiveness: Why Parties Emphasise Divided Issues, but Remain Silent on Unified Issues. European Journal of Political Research, 54(2), 343–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Vatter, A. (2009). Lijphart Expanded: Three Dimensions of Democracy in Advanced OECD Countries? European Political Science Review, 1(1), 125–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Political ScienceTechnische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

Personalised recommendations