While local government is found in all federal countries, its place and role in the governance of these countries varies considerably. In some countries, local government is considered an essential part of the federal nature of the state and recognized in the constitution as such, whereas in others it is simply a creature of the subnational states/provinces. What unites these institutions of state is that there is no level of government below them. That is also their strength and the source of their democratic claim – they are the government closest to the people.
Political science experts from across the globe examine local governments by drawing on case studies of Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, and United States. The focus is on the extent of constitutional recognition of local government in federal constitutions and the effect thereof, the roles and responsibilities of municipalities and how such responsibilities are financed. Local government’s relations with both state-level governments and federal government are examined against the backdrop of the political cultures prevalent at local level. Given the growth of metropolitan regions, the effective governance of these areas receives detailed attention. The authors reflect on how the emergence of multi-level government has produced a more complex system of federal governance, placing new demands on the theory and practice of federalism.
Contributors include Martin Burgi (Ruhr-University Bochum), Luis Cesar de Queiroz Ribeiro (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Jaap de Visser (University of Western Cape), Habu Galadima (University of Jos), Sol Garson (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) Boris Graizbord (National College of Mexico), Rakesh Hooja (HCM Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administration, India), Andreas Kiefer (European Affairs Office of the Land Salzburg), Andreas Ladner (Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration), George Mathew (Institute of Social Sciences, India), Mike Pagano (University of Illinois at Chicago), Graham Sansom (University of Technology Sydney), Franz Schausberger (Salzburg University), Nico Steytler (University of Western Cape), Francisco Velasco Caballero (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), and Robert Young (University of Western Ontario).
John Kincaid is Professor of Government and Public Service and director of the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.
Nico Steytler is Professor of Public Law and director of the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.