In this article, we analyse initiatives organized by groups outside of formal politics that involve political confrontation with elected officials, and the need for recourse to the courts. We show that a civic initiative submitted by a proposer gives the voter not only the option to constrain the mayor but also the possibility of learning the mayor's type from the signals conveyed in the legal contest over the validity of the initiative. We show that, ex ante, signalling in the context of legal uncertainty improves responsiveness. In addition, our setup identifies limits to empirical inference based on linear models: first, having a more adversarial mayor can lead to either the introduction or the withdrawal of an initiative; second, although initiatives effectively constrain incumbents, they do not necessarily imply increasing distrust in incumbents. Examples from Central European countries are used to illustrate how our model corresponds to real-world conditions.
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Gregor, Martin, Michael L. Smith. 2013. „Civic initiatives in the context of legal uncertainty.“ Journal of Theoretical Politics 25 (1): 36-62. ISSN 0951-629.