INCOME AND QUALITY OF LIFE INFLUENCE ON CITIZENS' PARTICIPATION IN ACTIVITIES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN LATVIA
The aim of the paper is to analyse the factors influencing the citizen participation in activities of local governments in relation to quality of life in Latvia. The use of the CLEAR model, elaborated by a group of British researchers under guidance of Gerry Stoker, shows the possibilities of participation and engagement of citizens based on theoretical aspects. Latvia, as a member state of the EU, needs to develop and to involve more citizens in different social activities, since it has comparatively small experience in democratic processes due to its past of 50 years being a part of another country — the Soviet Union. The opportunities to participate in the European Parliament’s election and to promote the resolution of common issues or questions specific for the country can be one of the ways for expressing life priorities. Historical heritage is still influencing the priorities of population, such as changes in income level and possibilities to increase the quality of life, have a strong impact on the perception of citizens. By using the concept of a welfare state and a welfare economy, it is possible to explain the enlargement of areas of citizens’ interaction. Unbalanced regional development with a huge impact on the capital city in the national economy and in the number of inhabitants concentrated in Rīga that amounts to a third of the total population with important differences in income level and quality of life has profound influence on other regions and the interests of inhabitants to participate in local governmental activities. The factors, which affect this engagement, are analysed by using primary and secondary data. The main conclusions are: 1) there is more active citizens participating in the activities of local government than in the election of the European Parliament due to faster and more visible results in solving problems, 2) the global financial crisis strongly affected the participation level, the changes of economic conjuncture have an important impact on the participation of citizens 3) imbalance in regional development is reflected by the level of participation, since there is a higher level of participation in economically favourable regions.
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