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Urban Government: Europe

Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/b0-08-043076-7/01241-9
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Political Science


Urban governments usually are related to the nation–state in terms of democratization and legitimation of forms of territorial management. They are defined in terms of services provision and public policy, and as political arenas and instruments for enhancing democracy, participation, and steering local societies. Classic distinctions between northern European welfarist urban governments and southern European political urban governments are now under question because a common set of pressures and opportunities (Europe, fragmentation, state reorganization, economic restructuring, social tensions) tends to blur the frontiers between existing national models of urban governments and to reinforce differences within nation–states. The making of Europe goes together with a vast movement of reallocation of authority. The changing scale does not suppress the narrow legal and financial relations between urban government and nation–states but includes them within a wider set of intergovernmental relations, networks, and interdependent bodies. Urban governments have to deal with an increasing amount of actors and policy tools (contracts and partnership, for instance) together with more diverse networks and actors. The making of European polity implies not just a more complex structure of vertical intergovernmental relations but also horizontal ones. In this multilevel governance in the making, the constraints imposed by the state are often lessened and urban governments tend to get more discretion (not always) but also a different set of constraints.

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