Local Government in Liberal Democracies: An Introductory Survey

By J. A. Chandler | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Introduction

J.A. Chandler

In recent years local government has ceased to be one of the ‘also rans’ of comparative politics, confined to a lecture at the end of a year’s study that could cheerfuly be abandoned by teachers who failed to keep up with their lecture schedule. This change reflects both the concerns of practising politicians and new theoretical developments in the fields of urban political analysis.

In several liberal democracies ideological differences between conservatives and socialists are reflected in struggles between central and local governments. For many years conflict between communist controlled industrial cities and Christian Democrat dominated governments has been an important feature of Italian politics. In Britain new right-wing Governments have been opposed as effectively by radical left-wing city governments as by the national opposition parties. In many countries the growth of interest in local politics reflects a concern and an impatience with policies affecting the quality of life in metropolitan areas. The plight of the inner cities, with attendant problems of urban crime, poverty and industrial decline, has become a major item on the political agendas of Britain and the United States, while modernisation of societies, particularly in the Mediterranean countries, has created pressures leading to restructuring of systems of local government that have remained little changed since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In addition to the more obvious political debates concerning local politics, recent research has shown that in some states local politics has considerable importance in shaping the national political system and should not be percieved as simply a subordinate localised interest. In some supposedly highly centralised nations local interests play a major role in national policy making. This is most clearly observed in France, where mayors of larger cities are frequently elected members of the Assembly and Senate and, although holding national office, still retain their local posts in

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Local Government in Liberal Democracies: An Introductory Survey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vi
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Bibliography 6
  • Chapter 2 - England and Wales 7
  • Bibliography 27
  • Chapter 3 - The Republic of Ireland 28
  • Chapter 4 - France 53
  • Chapter 5 - Italy 73
  • Bibliography 98
  • Chapter 6 - Germany 99
  • Bibliography 117
  • Chapter 7 - Sweden 118
  • Chapter 8 - The United States of America 138
  • Bibliography 158
  • Chapter 9 - Canada 159
  • Chapter 10 - Conclusion 188
  • Bibliography 200
  • Index 201
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