Local and Metropolitan Governance

While local government is found in all federal countries, its place and role in the governance of these countries vary considerably. In some local government is considered an essential part of the federal nature of state and recognized in the constitution as such. In others local government is simply a creature of the states and provinces. When referring to local government it is more correct to refer to local governments (plural) as these institutions come in all shapes and sizes, performing widely divergent functions. They range from metropolitan municipalities of mega-cities, to counties, small town councils, and villages. Their focus is either multi-purpose in the case of municipalities or single purpose in the case of special districts and school districts. What unites these institutions of state is that there is no level of government below them. That is also their strength and democratic claim; they are the government closest to the people.

The comparative study of the structures and operation of local government has been a major theme at the Forum from the very beginning. The Forum worked closely with the agencies in partner countries such as National Confederation of Brazilian Municipalities, the Secretariat of Federative Affairs of the Brazilian Presidency, Ministry of Cities of Brazil, the Indian Ministries of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Urban development, Mexico’s National Institute for Federalism and Municipal Development, the Mexican Senate Commission on Federalism and Municipal Development, the Major Cities Unit of Infrastructure Australia, the Australian Centre of Excellence on Local Government, and the German Association of Cities and Towns among others to create a network of expertise on the operation of local governments in federal systems.

Recent Projects

Metropolitan Governance

Capital Cities

4th International Conference on Federalism

A Global Dialogue on Federalism: Local Government and Metropolitan Regions in Federal Systems


N. Steytler, Ed. A Global Dialogue on Federalism, Volume 6: Local Government and Metropolitan Regions in Federal Systems (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008).

Kincaid, J. and Chattopadhyay, R, eds., Local Government in Federal Systems, Vol. 4 of Unity in Diversity: Learning from Each Other (New Delhi: Viva Books and Forum of Federations, 2008).http://www.forumfed.org/publications/unity-in-diversity-learning-from-each-other/

Slack, E and Chattopadhyay R Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal Systems (Montreal: McGill Queens University Press, 2009)

Event Reports

Second International Roundtable on Metropolitan Governance
Brisbane, Australia-19-20 August 2010
View Report

“Metropolitan Regions Management: National and International Experiences, Advances and Challenges” and Roundtable on “Management of Metropolitan Regions: National and International Experiences, Advances and Challenges”
by Ronald K. Vogel (University of Louisville)
View Report

International Roundtable on Metropolitan Governance
Sydney, Australia – December 15-15, 2009
View report

For further inquiries please contact Diana Chebenova at chebenova@forumfed.org