Local challenges of the economic crisis experience of decentralized local political elites
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Roxana Marin, PhD student, Doctoral School of Political Science, University of Bucharest doctoral fellow, Romanian Academy, Ia și branch [email protected] Local Challenges of the Economic Crisis: Experience of Decentralized Local Political Elites.

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Local Challenges of the Economic Crisis: Experience of Decentralized Local Political Elites

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Roxana Marin,

PhD student, Doctoral School of Political Science, University of Bucharest

doctoral fellow, Romanian Academy, Iași branch

[email protected]

Local Challenges of the Economic Crisis: Experience of Decentralized Local Political Elites

SCOPE International Conference. The Interdisciplinary Vocation of Political Science(s), University of Bucharest, Faculty of Political Science, Bucharest, June 27-29, 2014


Contents

  • Theoretical assessments;

  • Case-studies: objective, research questions; research methods;

  • Results;

  • Tentative explanations;

  • Conclusions


Theoretical Assessments

  • How to measure degree of decentralization ?

    • Level of proclivity towards decentralization (Dunn, Wetzel 2000);

    • Share of subnational governments to the public consumption/ GDP (IMF 2001);

    • Qualitative indicators: government credibility, social capital (de Mello 2000), soft/ hard budget constrains (Janos Kornai), levels of corruption, administrative capacity (Gargan 1981);

  • How to measure “the legacy of the past” (Jowitt, 1999) ?


Subnational share of general government expenditure (%)

Significant level of decentralization: > 50%;

Standard level of decentralization: > 30%;

Low level of decentralization: < 30%


Case-studies: objective, research questions, research methods (I)

  • The present research is concerned with the issue of local leadership in the countries of East-Central Europe.

  • Concretely, the intended research started as an attempt to examine, in a comparative manner, the profile and the role of the local political elites in three transitional democracies of East-Central Europe, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Poland, and the elites’ impact on the evolution of the local communities in the developing region of former Sovietized Europe;

  • Focal case studies, three small towns, Tecuci , ČeskáLípa, and Oleśnica, Gyula, and Targovishte, quite similar in terms of demographics (roughly 40,000 inhabitants) and developmental strategies (an economy based on the alimentary industry and on commerce activities, etc.);

  • The scope of the research - initially, rather descriptive, exploratory; an inductive, observatory process – an inquiry into a range of aspects worth pointing out when dealing with and discussing on the study of political elites.


Methodological note

  • The positional method of identifying and analyzing the local political elites, by operationalizing the phrase “local political elites” through the following definition: The local political elite is that group comprising those individuals in legislative and executive positions within the local leading, decision-making structure;

  • The population of the empirical research: the members of the Local/ Municipal Councils in Tecuci (19 persons), Targovishte (33 persons), ČeskáLípa (25 persons), Oleśnica (22 persons), and Gyula (21 persons) as they were in 2011-2013;

  • Methods of gathering data:

Written questionnaire;

Document analysis;

Participative Observation, etc.

  • Methods of identifying and analyzing elites:

Positional (Wright-Mills 1956)

Reputational (Warner 1941-1963; Hunter 1953, 1956; Miller 1985;

Decisional (Dahl 1961; Lynds 1929,1937)


Results (I)


Results (II): Interactions with other groups/ institutions


Results (III): Which of the following aspects do you value the most in a democracy ?


Results (IV): Attitudes towards decentralization


Results (V): Attitudes towards state intervention in economy


Results (VI): Models of local councilor

  • The ethical model (22.65%; 28.68%; 18.91%; 32.23%; 20.75%);

  • The political model (23.98%; 12.93%; 4.05%; 32.23%; 18.65%);

  • The technocratic model (9.33%; 21.28%; 18.90%; 10.52%; 22.05%);

  • The pragmatic model (21.32%; 37%; 45.9%; 25%; 38.55);

  • The gender model (0% for all cases).


Conclusions

  • Inconclusive results for: elites’ perceptions on state intervention in economy; the level of elite satisfaction of living in the town

  • The lower the level of decentralization, the higher the level of acceptance for decentralization and greater autonomy

  • Generally, the higher the level of decentralization:

    • The higher the level of responsibility of the local elites, and their capacity to pinpoint key domains of interest at the local level;

    • The more isolated the political elite;

    • The more localized the political elite, in socio-geographical identification.

  • The impact of the “legacy of the past” is still to be considered and might supplement the explanations


Tentative typology

  • “Predominantly elitistic” (e.g.Tecuci and Targovishte), corresponding to a former “modernizing-nationalizing”, “patrimonial” communist dictatorship, followed by “elite reproduction”, and low levels of administrative decentralization and local autonomy, presently; characterized by a significant degree of “elite distinctiveness”;

  • “Democratic elitist” (e.g.Oleśnica and Gyula), corresponding to a defunct “national-accommodative” communist dictatorship, followed by “elite circulation”, and high levels of decentralization and local autonomy, in the present;

  • “Predominantly democratic” (e.g.ČeskàLípa), corresponding to a former “bureaucratic-autoritarian”, “welfare” communist dictatorship, followed by “elite circulation”, a tradition of administrative decentralization, and significant levels of local autonomy, nowadays.


Selective references

De Mello, Luiz (2000). Can Fiscal Decentralization Strengthen Social Capital?, Washington, DC: IMF Working Paper No. 129.

Eldersveld, Samuel, Political Elites in Modern Societies. Empirical Research and Democratic Theory, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1989;

Stoica, Virgil, Cine conduce Iasiul ?, Fundația Axis Publishing House, Iași, 2003.

Warner, William Lloyd, Yankee City, Yale University Press, New Haven (Connecticut), 1963;

  • Robert Staughton LYND and Helen Merrell LYND, Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York, 1929; idem, Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York, 1937.

  • William Lloyd Warner, Yankee City, Yale University Press, New Haven (Connecticut), 1963;

  • Floyd HUNTER, Community Organization: Action and Inaction, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill (North Carolina),1952. idem, Community Power Structure: A Study of Decision-Makers, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill (North Carolina), 1953.

  • Delbert C. MILLER, “Industry and Community Power Structure: A Comparative Study of an American and an English City”, in American Sociological Review, Vol. 23, No. 1 (February 1985), pp. 9-15.

  • Robert DAHL, Who Governs ? Democracy and Power in an American City, Yale University Press, New Haven (Connecticut), 1961.

  • Samuel ELDERSVELD, Political Elites in Modern Societies. Empirical Research and Democratic Theory, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1989;

  • Virgil STOICA, Cine conduce Iasiul ?, Fundația Axis Publishing House, Iași, 2003


THANK YOU !


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