Directly Elected Mayors vs. Council Appointed Mayors – Which Effects on Local Government Systems?: A Comparison between Italy and Spain

Directly Elected Mayors vs. Council Appointed Mayors – Which Effects on Local Government Systems?: A Comparison between Italy and Spain

María Jesús García García (University of Valencia, Spain) and Alessandro Sancino (Open University Business School, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0317-0.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter compares the Italian and the Spanish case discussing the influence of having elected or appointed mayors on local government systems. Five elements of the local government systems are compared: the electoral system and its influences on the political composition of the local government; the local government structure and the distribution of functions and powers between Mayor and council; the role of political parties; scrutiny of executive and accountability; citizen participation. Our comparative analysis highlights that overall directly elected mayors have ensured better efficiency in terms of quicker and faster decision making processes, even if mostly at the expenses of democratic representation. Having direct or appointed mayors also impacted on accountability and legitimacy patterns. However, all these effects depended not only on the way mayor is elected, but mostly on other mechanisms, such as, for example, the strong majority prize provided by the electoral law and the bond of coexistence existing between the mayor and the council.
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Background

Comparative research aims to compare different contexts in order to identify and to separate common factors from those that are specific (“embedded”) for each single context (Przeworski & Teune, 1970; Ragin, 1994). As a consequence, a comparative analysis requires clearly identifying the variables investigated in the comparison.

Here, we focus our analysis on five specific variables: the local electoral law and its influences on the political composition of the local government; the local government structure and the distribution of functions and powers between the mayor and the council; the role of political parties; the scrutiny and accountability of the local government; and electoral participation.

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