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Decentralization is one of the most dramatic political and economic trends in the last few decades. This book seeks to address its causes, exploring decentralizing reforms in Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. It probes questions of where and why decentralization is adopted, what form it is likely to take in different contexts, and how it is likely to evolve over time. The book develops a theory linking decentralization's adoption to the electoral concerns of political parties: decentralization represents a desirable strategy for parties whose support at subnational levels appears more secure than their prospects in national elections.Read more
- Formal model of decentralization
- In-depth empirical analysis of decentralization in five countries
- Extensive coverage of a global political trend with extensions to related types of reform
Reviews & endorsements
"O'Neill takes on a fundamental puzzles in comparative politics -- Why would national-level politicians decentralize power to subnational governments? She finds theories based on economic efficiency and crisis, external pressure from international actors, and internal ethnic heterogeneity lacking, proposes an alternative, electoral theory of decentralization, and tests it against five cases from the Andean region. The research strategy is elegant and clearly stated, and the results are impressive. This is a terrific contribution to our understanding of decentralization."
John Carey, Dartmouth CollegeSee more reviews
"Why would a central government give up some of its power by promoting decentralizing reforms that shift decision-making and resources to the subnational level? In this excellent book, Kathleen O'Neill examines this important question, focusing on five Andean countries (Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela). She develops an original and compelling argument that presidents will promote decentralization if their parties are skeptical they will win the next presidential election but are well poised to win executive power in some subnational districts. The research, analysis, and writing are outstanding."
Scott Mainwaring, University of Notre Dame
"Decentralizing the State explores the dynamics of decentralization in an innovative fashion. It starts from several intellectual puzzles, noting that countries do not decentralize because of international technocratic pressure to 14improve governance12 or because decentralization supposedly follows from democratization. Instead, OaNeill argues that decentralization is a function of the dynamics of domestic party politics - in particular of politiciansa electoral strategies to ensure their future political survival. The argument is powerful and the evidence is strong, and the book should serve as an important source for scholars and policy practitioners alike."
David Samuels, University of Minnesota
"This original argument, its solid grounding in qualitative and quantitative analyses, and its testing and refinement through case studies of all five of the increasingly troubled Andean countries, make this volume a major contribution to our understanding of important features of contemporary politics. It is an essential primer for politicians and policymakers seeking to understand the intersection of electoral politics and institutional design."
Donna Lee Van Cott, Tulane University
O'Neill presents a wealth of masterfully compiled information on the five cases, and by combining different research strategies (formal modelling and statistical analysis with in-depth qualitative case studies) she provides a convincing example of the merits of methodological pluralism."
Ana Maria Bejarno, University of Toronto, CJLACS/RCELAC
“O’Neill’s carefully constructed work sets a useful baseline for others who might be interested in exploring how electoral incentives intersect with other factors that determine why and when decentralization occurs.” - Daniel Ziblatt, Harvard University
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- Date Published: June 2005
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521846943
- length: 286 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.59kg
- contains: 7 b/w illus. 37 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Electoral Theory and Comparative Evidence:
2. A political theory of decentralization
3. Decentralization in comparative perspective
Part II. In-Depth Country Studies:
4. The Colombian experience
5. The Bolivian experience
6. Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela
Part III. Comparisons, Conclusions, and Extensions:
7. Comparisons, conclusions, and extensions
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