Nonfiction 14

Decentralization and Transition in the Visegrad: Poland, by Emil J. Kirchner (eds.)

By Emil J. Kirchner (eds.)

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The Importance of Local and Regional Reform 11 government cannot ignore the potential for hostile mobilization. Once party politics comes into institutional reform of this kind, the chances for significant advances are severely limited. As we see in the cases of Poland and the Slovak Republic, progressive reform plans can tum, in the face of partisan politics, into inconclusive deliberations and the production of general 'guidelines' for reformwatered-down versions of initial Plans - which, in the absence of specific timetables and political will from opinion-leaders, are bound to stall, rather than speed up, institutional reform.

This relationship ought to create an environment in which there is competition for regional government office, resulting in a responsiveness to citizens' needs and demands. To the extent to which political parties are dominating the processes of political decision-making in Western Europe, the democratization of regional politics also implies a closer look at intra-party dynamics. In analyzing these various ingredients of regional democracy, we find that deficits remain in many regions. One immediate problem here has been the lack of competencies allocated to regional governments.

As outlined above, developments during the late 1980s reinforced the trend to see such alliances: the Commission increased its legitimacy by bringing in sub-state actors, regions allied in organisations such as the AER, communes formed the European Council of Local and Regional Authorities, there was general pressure for decentralization in the Community, a Committee of the Regions of the EU was created and subsidiarity was introduced as a general principle of the post-Maastricht Union. However, focusing on such trends is to take only a partial view of the development of the Community and enlarging it into a false generalization.

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