Local Government Reform as State Building: What the Polish Case Says About 'Decentralization'

42 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2014

See all articles by Anthony Levitas

Anthony Levitas

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Date Written: August 10, 2014

Abstract

Since 1989, Poland has become one of the most decentralized states in Europe. Local government now control a third of all public expenditures. They have also delivered the goods modernizing the country’s infrastructure and restructuring its schools. This success cannot be attributed to widespread civic engagement because decentralization in Poland was clearly a “revolution from above”. Nor can it be attributed to the implementation of rules typically thought to enhance accountability in decentralized polities because the Polish local governments do not finance themselves and many of their responsibilities remain poorly defined. Instead, I argue that this success is due to the creation of meso-level institutions which integrated local governments into the regulatory structure of the state. Their design and operation suggests that the promise of decentralized governance lies less in “getting the rules right” than in constructing institutions that encourage their renegotiation and adjustment.

Keywords: Polish, Decentralization, Government Reform, Europe

Suggested Citation

Levitas, Anthony, Local Government Reform as State Building: What the Polish Case Says About 'Decentralization' (August 10, 2014). Watson Institute for International Studies Research Paper No. 2014-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2508304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2508304

Anthony Levitas (Contact Author)

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs ( email )

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
130
rank
214,540
Abstract Views
526
PlumX Metrics