Intra-Party Democracy in Groningen Early in the 1970s

1 december 2005

The city of Groningen introduced the traffic circulation plan (Verkeerscirculatieplan, VCP) in 1977. While this plan has created a pedestrian-friendly inner city, it has been severely criticised because of the lack of public participation in the planning process.
However, if we define representative democracy as, neither responsive nor participatory, but responsible governance, more public participation does not necessarily contribute to democracy. With this definition, it is a very sensitive issue how to integrate public opinion.

This paper will focus on the role that political parties can play in representing public pinion. The new left politicians, who took the initiative in introducing the VCP, advocated thorough democratisation of their own party, in which party members could directly participate in party policy making.
This paper will analyse how this intra-party democracy was realised in the planning of the VCP. Although party members could not directly participate in the planning, it will be concluded, the public as a whole as well as party members could influence the plan through creating formal and informal frameworks for party leaders.