Control and power in central-local government relations - ePrints Soton
Center-local relations refer to the political and administrative relationships that exist between a Conversely, a state favoring decentralization will distribute power to local governments: sub-national Other analyses of center-local relations consider the institutional relationships and control mechanisms . Relevance, Date. That is, is there a deconcentration of authority from the central government to the Any fair, reasonable, substantial doubt concerning the existence of power is In some cities powerful political party machines control decision making by the . plays a significant role in local government in his relationship to the committees. Aug 18, By “bringing the centre back” into the study of central–local relations In this phase of tightening up, the power balance between central and local governments has Hence, recentralization efforts have, to date, not fully upended existing local The combination of central government control over officials'.
The Yearbook, for example, provides details on the organization of local government, but only in did it begin to provide data on local elections. The formal structure of local government, important as it can be to the character of a system, is not the only nor even the most significant determinant of the style of local government.
The quality and character of a local government are determined by a multiplicity of factors—for example, national and local traditions, customary deference patterns, political pressures, party influence and discipline, bureaucratic professionalism, economic resource controls, and social organization and beliefs. That a local government is located in a nation controlled by a communist party may be an infinitely more important fact than the structural forms it has.
That an American city is located in the Southwhere Negroes occupy an inferior social position, may explain far more about the local government than its structure. The existence of a huge economic enterprise within a given municipality may be more determinative of the style and policies of a local government than its organization.
And, it might be added, this may be as true in a totalitarian regime as in a democratic one. There are hundreds of thousands of local governments in the world, and we lack sufficient information about their operational characteristics to make completely confident generalizations about the nature of local government or to isolate the most critical variables that shape it.
In the process of moving toward surer understanding of the phenomenon it is useful to pursue answers to three basic questions about any local government. First, to what extent is there local self-government? For example, do the people of the community have an opportunity to participate in government through meaningful elections and to have access to public officials to express their opinions by organized and individual activity?
Second, to what extent does the municipality have relative autonomy and discretionary authority to act? That is, is there a deconcentration of authority from the central government to the locality with little or no local discretion, or is there decentralization of authority with relative discretion to undertake programs on local initiative and with relative freedom from strict supervision and restriction from the central government?
Third, is the local government a vital and significant force in the lives of the people? Is the government an institution with the will and the authority to undertake activities that deeply affect the lives of people, or is it so marginal an aspect of life that the citizenry is scarcely aware that it exists?
To facilitate discussion of local government in terms of these broad questions, five broad categories of local governmental systems may be postulated: The meaning of each category will become clear in the discussion.
Federal-decentralized systems Those federal systems which decentralize much authority to the regional governments that compose the federation also tend to be the nations that allow the broadest range of discretionary authority to local government. This is not true of all systems that are called federal, however, but only of those with actual decentralization. In federal systems with much decentralization for example, Australia, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States the degree of autonomy of local government varies considerably from country to country, but in all cases a considerable degree of local independence prevails.
This variation extends deeper than the countryby-country comparison, for there is often much variation among individual states or provincial-regional governments as to the forms and authority of local government. For example, the closeness of supervision by administrative agencies of regional governments varies widely from fairly extensive reporting and oversight to almost none, except in cases of flagrant corruption.
Gradually, home rule has extended, with varying degrees of effectiveness, to most of the states. Home rule does not grant total autonomy by any means, since legislatures through general law and the courts through interpretation still restrain local government.
Nevertheless, the concept contradicts the principle of municipal inferiority that previously stood as a basic rule of law. In the late nineteenth century Judge John F.
Dillon stated the classic principle of the status of the local government by saying that municipal corporations were completely creatures of the legislature which could control or even destroy municipalities at will. It is a general and undisputed proposition of law that a municipal corporation possesses and can exercise the following powers, and no others: First, those granted in express words; second, those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted; third, those essential to the accomplishment of the declared objects and purposes of the corporation—not simply convenient, but indispensable.
Any fair, reasonable, substantial doubt concerning the existence of power is resolved by the courts against the corporation, and the power is denied.
Dillon vol. Litigation and the threat of litigation are important restraints upon local independence. In the United States all local legislative bodies and most chief executives are directly elected.
In some cities powerful political party machines control decision making by the formal officeholders; in others business elites have great power; in still others authority is widely dispersed to independent boards and commissions which are relatively invisible to the voters and partially beyond the control of the council or the mayor for example, Los Angeles. Swiss municipalities also have a wide area of local autonomy, although there are variations among the Swiss cantons states in this respect.
The German-speaking cantons usually permit more discretion than do the Italian- and French-speaking ones. A high degree of local self-government prevails, particularly in the rural communities; in nine out of ten communes the municipal deliberative body is an assembly of all electors.
In larger municipalities elective councils are employed, and under certain conditions a referendum may be used to submit questions to the vote of the people. Other federal systems permit somewhat less local autonomy.
In Australia, for example, local actions are subject to review by the state governor and ordinances are effective only after their approval by the governor, although there remains a general autonomy for the locality within the limitations of its local charter and the supervision of the state departments of local government.Winning the Power Struggle in Your Relationship
In Canada a considerable sphere of local autonomy exists, but not as much as traditionally prevails in the United States or Switzerland. An illustration of this is found in the decision of the provincial legislature of Ontario to form a new unit of metropolitan government in the Toronto area in The premier of Ontario warned that the legislature would act if the local communities failed to create some orderly method of coping with the problems of the metropolitan area, and when no action followed the legislature created a new governmental unit covering both the center city and its suburbs.
History of local government in England
While such action would be legally feasible in most although not all states in the United States, American political traditions of local independence make it nearly impossible to do this. The local government system of the West German Federal Republic also has variations in local powers and procedures among the provincial governments Landeryet the overall independence of local governments is considerable.
The degree of independence does not match that in the United States or Switzerland, however. The burgomaster roughly equivalent to a mayor is a professional administrator and occupies a very strong position in the local government; significantly, he is not only a local official but a federal and state official as well, since the city performs certain functions for the higher jurisdictions.
The vitality of local government in the federal-decentralized countries varies both within and among countries. In the United States the role of local government expanded greatly with the maturation of industrial society in the first half of the twentieth century; protective, regulatory, welfare, planning, economic promotion, cultural, and other activities were initiated or expanded.
But the extent of expansion varies greatly with the size of the city, the area of the country, and even for adjacent cities.
In the largest cities, where the functional expansion has been greatest, the hugeness and impersonal nature of the government probably make government appear to impinge less on the lives of the citizens than it does in fact.
In smaller rural or suburban communities, local government ranges from the moribund to the fairly vital. Like-wise in other nations the degree of vitality and impact of government varies widely. In the Swiss communities where a town-meeting style of government prevails, the sense of involvement and the level of participation are high.
The English-speaking Commonwealth federal systems appear to have a range of variation in the vitality of local government that compares generally with that in the United States. Although in all cases there is supervision by the central government, and although localities can take only such actions as authorized by the central government, local governments in these nations do have fairly wide responsibilities and make independent decisions about them.
The independent status of the English city has a long history, as evidenced by ancient royal charters of cities. The first charters were just agreements by the king to recognize certain concessions that local leaders had bought or bargained for, but in time the charters became regularized and the basis of a considerable area of local discretion.
As early as the fifteenth century merchant guilds and borough councils originated the rudiments of local self-government. Parliament remains the supreme source of local authority, but the practice of permitting local prerogatives is so firmly established that curtailment is always resisted and comes only after great deliberation. Nevertheless, there has been a considerable diminution of local independence since the nineteenth century.
Particularly in the fields where the central government has provided a percentage of the cost of programs through grants-in-aid, central government departments have greatly extended their control over local decisions. Centrally established minimum standards of performance have unquestionably raised the efficiency of local government, but at the same time they have curtailed the independence that once existed. British local government is representative self-government.
The local council is directly elected, although the local executive is not. The mayor or chairman in certain local bodies is chosen from among the council members, but he is not the chief executive in the same way that an American mayor is. The British mayor is more a ceremonial and presiding official than an active executive leader, and to the extent that he is the latter it is the result of his personal qualities or his political position. The major operating element of the British local council is the committee system, into which noncouncil members are co-opted as experts on aspects of policy covered by the particular committee.
Although the council must ratify all committee actions before they are valid, the committees are the active elements in the process rather than the council as a whole. The town or county clerk also plays a significant role in local government in his relationship to the committees.
It is he who prepares information for the committee and sets the agenda, but he is not a British parallel to the American city manager, for he is not directly given the function of overseeing administration. Traditionally clerks are not trained in administrative management but in the law, although their apprenticeship in local government necessarily emphasizes administrative matters, and as the problems of local government become more complex it increasingly falls to the clerk to provide expertise and to coordinate the diverse elements of local government.
Since the early nineteenth century local governments in the Scandinavian nations have been allowed a fair degree of autonomy. The list of powers for local government is extensive, and while regional appointees of the central government who are in some respects similar to the French prefect oversee local operations, the actual supervision is not strict and does not compare with that in nations with prefectoral systems. In Norway all actions involving expenditures must be cleared with the provincial governor before they can be carried out, which on the surface suggests that Norwegian local government may be less autonomous than that of Britain.
In fact, however, Norwegian municipalities have somewhat more discretion, since the supervision is not strict. Local government is a common recruiting ground for higher political office, and local forms and practices have been used as modes for creating regional institutions and practices.
Denmark also has close supervision of fiscal matters, but the check on local government that this might imply is not apparently onerous. Local government is democratic, has a fairly wide range of discretion, but is somewhat less autonomous and vital than Norwegian local government. As in Norway and England there is extensive use of committees of the council for conduct of business.
Napoleonic-prefect systems The peculiarity of this style of local government is that the central government places in sub-regions of the nation an agent of the national government to oversee, and if necessary to counter-mand, suspend, or replace local governments. The system is a direct survivor of the ancient institutions by which France attempted to create a centralized nation out of a scattered system of feudal fiefs, small cities, and ecclesiastical domains.
In varying forms the office is commonly found in southern Europe and in Latin Americajust as British forms are found in English-speaking nations. In France the basic unit of local government is the commune, of which there are some 38, and each is under the supervision of a prefect of a departement of which there are 90 or under the intermediate control of a subprefect of an arrondissement more than In some areas superprefects also provide regional supervision.
The commune is typically a small community, since most of France is rural, although cities are also organized as communes.
There is a high degree of local interest in commune politics, and council elections are often heatedly contested. The mayor, who is chosen from the ranks of the council, has a wide range of executive authority; and although he is legally accountable to the council, he nevertheless is a powerful political force in the municipality. The mayor and the council operate under the eye of the prefect or subprefect, however; and all commune actions are subject to review by the prefect, who may refuse to approve or may even dissolve the local council or remove the mayor.
There are, on the average, some three hundred dissolutions per year, although a major cause of this is irreconcilable disagreement within the council rather than conflict with the prefect. It should not be assumed, however, that French local government is actually controlled from Paris.
Prefects and subprefects have a considerable area of discretion, and they often find it wise to strike a political balance between themselves and the mayors, who are not entirely without weapons to deploy against a demanding prefect, for national political forces are often just barely beneath the surface of local politics. Many mayors are influential national political figures, and local politics is a common basis for a political career.
History of local government in England - Wikipedia
Despite this countervailing force against centralization, local government in France remains far more subordinate and dependent than in such countries as the United States and England. Police and education, for example, are largely beyond local control; fiscal controls and subventions are deployed by prefects to bring commune policy in line.
Interest and participation, however, run high in France. A British observer, granting that in England local government had more autonomy than it does in France, nevertheless found in France more interest in local matters and more vitality in local government Chapmanp. In other Mediterranean countries and in Latin Americawhere the prefectoral system prevails, there are many variations on the French pattern.
In Spain and Italy, for example, there is considerably more centralization than in France. Conceptualization of Central-local Government Relations The study, conceptualization, theorization and analysis of central local government relationship have proved to be a challenging assignment and expectation among various government officials, scholars and political analysts.
In the same context, an analysis of British contemporary central-local relations by Ogborn [ 6 ] may well be considered as a synthesis of the above argument. Ogborn challenged the orthodox dualistic analysis of central-local government relationship presented in the nineteenth century and argued that local power does not rest within conceptions of communities or in the ideology of local possessive pluralism characteristic of ratepayer democracies but in the administrative structure of spatial state apparatus.
Although the above arguments may have some stereotype ideals, it is important however to rationalize that decentralization is a creature of state governments who retains the prerogative of determining the quality and quantity of authority to devolve to local governments. Whilst it has been the general supposition that the state exist for the general good of its people which among other efforts may involve the decentralization of sufficient authority to local authorities for the efficient provision of services to citizens, this may be contradicted as an overstatement and oversimplification as some bureaucracies have attempted to concentrate power at national levels leaving local governments as mere extensions of central government authority.
It therefore becomes contestable whether decentralization as summed in government policy theory has enhanced local autonomy or whether there is an increased propensity towards recentralization.
These intentions are embodied in the structure and form of decentralization or, more subtly, are revealed in how the system functions after it is introduced. But political variables determine decentralization outcomes in terms of greater responsiveness and poverty reductionnot only because of variations in formal structure or technical failures of implementation, but also because decentralization is essentially about distribution of power and resources, both among different levels and territorial areas of the state and among different interests in their relationship to ruling elites.
In the African context, the politics of ethno-regional conflict is particularly important in shaping the structure of decentralization and indeed the extent to which it is accepted at all by the ruling elite. It is difficult to find any positive assessments of these countries in the research literature.
Ogborn opined that, the understanding of central-local government relations as part of a modern states government extension of surveillance across its territory is elucidated and substantiated through an analysis of the form of these relationships particularly the rationality and yields.
The paper contextualized the Zimbabwean central-local government relations within the broader framework of the pluralist theory which emphasized on interdependency, diversity and the dynamic interaction of relatively independent layers of government. To streamline the focus of the paper, the following analytical framework was used: Machingauta noted that, although they are body corporates, local authorities remained creatures of statutes with no constitutional recognition of their existence.
In essence this implies that local government in Zimbabwe is a decentralised devolved level of governance which authority is derived from Acts of Parliament and not enshrined in the constitution. Local authorities in Zimbabwe are administered through panoply of Acts of Parliament enacted by the Zimbabwean legislature. The various legislative instruments inter alia the Urban Councils Act, chapter The Ministry of Local Government administers all the Acts and Statutory Instruments promulgated in the local government area.
The minister is supposedly considered to be acting in the best interest of the citizens. In Marchthe minister appointed a resuscitation team for the Municipality of Chitungwiza after the dismissal of key council staff including the town clerk on grounds of corruption and abuse of office.
Indeed the allegations levelled against the council officials pointed to irregularities in financial management, allocation of stands and violation of employment procedures. Organisational arrangement of central and local government from a personnel perspective The organisational and structural arrangement of local government presents an important dichotomy in understanding the manifestations of power and responsibility allocation and distribution between the parent ministry and local authorities.
The minister retains the overall supervisory, coordination and control authority on the behaviour of local authorities. However, local authorities at provincial and district levels are accountable to the minister via the Provincial Administrator P.
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A and District Administrator D. One of the key result areas of D. As is to supervise and monitor local authorities and as such they are ex-officio members of full council and committees of council.
While local authorities have the power to employ non-director employees, the appointment of directors is subject to approval by the local government board in terms of section of the Urban Councils Act chapter Members of this board are appointed by the minister and therefore hold office at his discretion an issue that have raised eyebrows and controversy over the transparency of this statutory board which have been blamed of rubber stamping the whims of the minister.
Financing of local government functions-the common resource base problem Central government through Acts of parliament determines and delimits the sources from which local authorities can raise revenue for their day to day functionality. Local government revenue sources include but are not limited to service charges, rates, property tax, and grants from central government, rent on property leased, and borrowing subject to approval by the minister.
At the same time central government gets income from sources including PAYE, import and export duties, and royalties on mineral resources. It therefore appears that central government income sources are easier to collect relative to those of local authorities.
However, before implementing their budgets, local authorities must seek the approval of their tariffs and income from the minister who have the veto to reject a council budget where he feels the tariffs are beyond the affordability of citizens or where he feels the expenditure is not justifiable.
In addition to this, the common resource problem has reduced the capacity of citizens to honour both central government dues on the one hand and local authority tariffs on the other hand. Supervision and control systems and mechanisms The decentralization of functions to local authorities also came with the institutionalization of a package of control systems and supervisory mechanisms by central government to ensure that local authorities behaves within the parameters set in the relevant Acts of Parliament.
Inter-governmental relations from this angle reflect the politics of the horizontal power dynamics between local authorities and central government. Goldsmith [ 10 ] identified three ways by which central government can exercise control over local governments. The first one is the control of local government income and expenditure. In income terms, central government may decide which taxes local governments can access or to set tax rates or to decide the form of intergovernmental transfers.
In expenditure terms, central government may seek to control local government access to borrowing for capital purposes and to set limits to current expenditure levels or prohibit certain expenditures or to require localities to meet a greater or lesser proportion of the costs of certain services out of their own resources.
Secondly, there is control through a process of administrative regulation or prescription about the ways in which particular local functions or services be provided. The four dimensions of supervision of local governments by the centre he identified are the establishment of local government institutions and regulating their institutional framework. The third manner of supervision is the continuous monitoring of local government functions through requests for information and access to local government records as well as investigations into allegations of corruption and other forms of improper conduct.