Comparing Similar Local Political Systems Empirically
Empirical comparisons of political systems can hardly avoid shortcomings. This is also true in comparing local political systems. The quantitative research on the basis of mass data nowadays is most fashionable. As the scientist is confronted with a multitude of municipal authorities a selection by chance seems to be appropriate. However, the local political systems vary very much. Nowadays designs for case studies take into consideration that polities and politics of global players among the
... players among the municipal authorities are different from those in smaller towns. In 1973 Dahl already stated that there is a positive correlation between size and democracy. In Germany the new institutional arrangements at the local level were expected to bring about more participation by the citizens. This is more likely in smaller towns than it is in larger cities. However, the planning of empirical case studies on large, middle-sized and small municipalities should be aware that other variables have to be considered besides the number of inhabitants. If such variables are taken care of the dilemma of too many variables occurs. As empirical comparisons come to the fore, the question arises, why there is so little progress in strategies of comparative analysis by case studies. Scholars of political science have chosen different ways without reaching a consensus about the one suitable solution, which variables a researcher has to take into consideration when he or she is answering specific questions. This paper will discuss this problem against the background of scholarly knowledge about the local level of the political system in Germany.