The term “local government” refers to the government at a lower management level of hierarchy.
In political regionalism, state is usually regarded as a “layer cake”. The public administration in it is divided into the branches and territorial levels. “Layered” structure appears evolutionary, as a result of functional differentiation of the role of public administration and the ordering of relations between the center and the regions of mutual coordination of national and local interests. Today, local government is often regarded as the fourth branch of government, along with the executive, legislative and judicial. This has its own truth, as the local government may be functionally separate from the “classical” branches of government. Although it would be more correct to regard it as one of the levels of administrative-territorial units of the first order.
An important problem is the ratio of the regional and local levels of government. If in a democratic unitary state, local government is focused mostly on the local level, the state government exercises its power on the regional and local level. Some states especially emphasize the three-tier management model they are using, with the national, regional, and local levels (the case of Brazil). The development of a strong and independent local government is accented in Mexico (states are divided into free municipality). At the same time there is similarity of federal states with unitary in terms of models of organization of local authorities. All the basic models of local government are examples related to both federal and unitary states.
An effective territorial-political system, which allows to take into account and to link local interests within a single state, requires a balance of relations between the center and the local communities. This means the election of local authorities (in some form) and their independence in the matters of local importance. The amount of the local jurisdiction is centrally determined (and, if necessary, changed), and therefore, the policy conducting by local governments consistent with national interests is ensured. The end result is a kind of “asymmetrical partnership” of the center and the local communities.
Public theory of local government in the modern reality looks dated. In reality, such common problems as poor articulation of local interests, the economic failure of the local community, unprofessional management, and decreased interest in direct democracy make the inevitable inclusion of local government in a single multi-level system of power relations in the state. At the same time, this does not in any way mean belittling the role of local government. On the contrary, it is an essential feature of a democratic state. Moreover, in contrast to federalism, that local government is the commonly occurring form of regulation of the balance between the center and the regions.
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