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Local Autonomy or National Equality? A Conflict of Values and Interests for Political Leaders

Journal article
Authors David Karlsson
Published in Regional & Federal Studies
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 19-44
ISSN 1359-7566
Publication year 2015
Published at School of Public Administration
Pages 19-44
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/13597566.2014.98...
Keywords Multi-level government, autonomy, equality, ideology, political representatives
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies), Public Administration Studies

Abstract

Local autonomy and national equality are conflicting political values. Finding the balance between autonomy and equality is a difficult challenge for local leaders in multi-level government systems everywhere. This article aims to find factors that explain the attitudes of local representatives in these matters. The results show that left–right ideology, party interest and local economic interest all have substantial effects on the representatives’ attitudes. Representatives on the right are generally more positive to local autonomy and more critical to equalisation compared to representatives on the left, but the ideological stance of right-wing representatives depends on the economic strength of their municipality. Left-wing representatives are less affected by local economic interests. Representatives of all colours are more positive to increasing local autonomy when they are part of a local ruling majority. The study builds on data from a survey of all local representatives in Sweden.

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