Local Politics 2: The scale debate at the local level revisited

City Hall - Vincent Harris Room
Time Slot: 
Monday 30th March 11:30 - 13:00
Panel Chair: 
  • Professor Herwig Reynaert (Ghent University)
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Niels Karsten (Tilburg University)
  • Professor Koenraad De Ceuninck (Ghent University)
  • Professor Colin Copus (De Montfort University)
  • Dr Linze Schaap (Tilburg University)

The scale debate at the local level has dominated the local political agendas in several European countries since the 1970’s. In recent years, we have seen a revival of this debate (Swianiewicz, 2010; Baldersheim & Rose, 2010; Loughlin, Hendriks & Lidström, 2011). Denmark introduced a large-scale merger operation in 2007 and several German states (Länder) reformed and merged both their local government level and their second-tier local government level (the German Kreise). The Netherlands have known a far-reaching merger policy for many years and the new Flemish government that took office in 2014, like the previous government, expressed the intention to encourage voluntary mergers of municipalities. Moreover, the Flemish provinces are threatened in their survival, now that their relevance is increasingly questioned. France, a country with a long history of non-mergers (associated with a strong tradition of inter-municipal cooperation), is looking for more opportunities for metropolitan government. All these elements clearly indicate that the scale debate at the local level is still going on. In this panel we want to continue the debate and search for motives behind these policies. Clearly, many remarkable similarities and differences between the cases can be identified. Therefore however, we do not have an explanation for them. By the contributions to this panel, we hope to fill at least some of the gaps in the actual scientific research.