Civil Society and the New Democracy in Post-devolution Wales - A Case Study of the EU Structural Funds

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It was anticipated that devolution and the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales would promote partnership, inclusiveness and openness in governance in Wales. Civil society engagement was viewed as crucial to making this new democracy work. Consequently, civil society's engagement with the Assembly is one of the benchmarks against which to assess political and economic developments post-devolution. This article takes advantage of the coincidence between devolution and the development of the European Structural Fund Programmes for 2000-2006 in Wales to examine the engagement of civil society organizations in these programmes, focusing particularly on the West Wales and the Valleys Objective 1 Programme. The article concludes that the first term of devolution promoted a more inclusive and open policy-making culture. However, disparities in the capacities of civil society organizations to engage in the programmes, more executive forms of government and a greater emphasis on the effectiveness of the Structural Funds during the second term of devolution highlighted the challenges facing the Assembly in order to deepen democracy in post-devolution Wales. In addition to contributing to the literature on devolution and policy making, the findings inform broader debates on contemporary governance; social networks; notions of participatory democracy; models of public policy making; and the state in post-industrial development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-156
Number of pages20
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Wales
  • devolution
  • civil society
  • Structural Funds
  • inclusiveness
  • economic governance


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