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Who Governs? Patterns of Responsiveness and Accountability

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Abstract

A basic argument of this chapter is that an analysis of local government systems should take into consideration the double role of local authorities: governance for the sake of the citizens’ community and for the sake of the state. Focusing on the accountability and responsiveness of decision-makers, we argue that these are the main configuring factors for different versions of local political communities. Using dimensions of the local autonomy index (LAI), we elaborate four models of community governance. The distribution of countries has been examined for 1990, 2005 and 2014, and it was found that the strongest type of “self-determined community” included the biggest number of countries, while the weakest type of “patronized community” gradually became a rare exception. The shift away from supra-local and towards local orientation was comparatively stronger in responsiveness than in accountability, especially among ex-communist countries. Finally, a considerable mobility across types was recorded in Eastern and Southern Europe, while stability characterised the rest. Future research should try to detect factors explaining persistence and change, furthermore the eventual effects of different community types upon attitudes and perceptions of both citizens and politicians.

Keywords

  • Local political community
  • Local government typologies
  • Responsiveness
  • Accountability
  • Local citizenry

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Fig. 11.1
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Fig. 11.4

Notes

  1. 1.

    We recognise, of course, that a detailed account of power holders in the local community would require data beyond the LAI.

  2. 2.

    See http://www.atlasofeuropeanvalues.eu/new/europa.php?ids=2531&year=2008; http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Chart/index (consulted in 2018).

  3. 3.

    See the particularly interesting South-African Constitution of 1996, Chap. 3 “Cooperative Government”, Art. 40 “Government of the Republic”, par. 1 “In the Republic, government is constituted as national, provincial and local spheres of government which are distinctive, interdependent and interrelated” http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/constitution/SAConstitution-web-eng.pdf (consulted in 2018).

  4. 4.

    It is also worth mentioning that the corresponding Art. 9 par. 3 of the European Charter is its most often violated article (Council of Europe 2017).

  5. 5.

    See the last paragraph of the Preamble of the European Charter: “Asserting that this entails the existence of local authorities endowed with democratically constituted decision-making bodies and possessing a wide degree of autonomy with regard to their responsibilities, the ways and means by which those responsibilities are exercised and the resources required for their fulfilment” (Council of Europe 1985).

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Ladner, A. et al. (2019). Who Governs? Patterns of Responsiveness and Accountability. In: Patterns of Local Autonomy in Europe. Governance and Public Management. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95642-8_11

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