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The centralization vs decentralization debate is still very much alive. We discuss the pros and cons to both approaches to political organization. Join!
The political organization of a state is one of the more divisive issues among political parties, analysts and researchers. Decentralization refers to the process of transfer of authority and responsibility from from a central government to regional and local governments, as well as to other governmental agencies and organizations. The debate centralization vs decentralization is not exclusive to politics, business and other organizations face the same dilemma.
Many countries, such as the UK or Spain, are currently debating decentralization and devolution of powers to regional and local governments. Regions such as Basque Country, Catalonia and Andalusia enjoy far reaching autonomy. The US and Canada are a notorious cases in which much of the decision-making is decentralized to local and state authorities. However, there are many attempts to centralize decision-making, as in the case of the European Union and France, which has reduced the number of regions. Some successful countries opt for a centralized model, such as Norway and Denmark, and others for a decentralized one, such as Switzerland and Germany. Political, administrative, and fiscal decentralization continues to be core to the discussions about governance. In order to help you make up your mind, take a look at some advantages of each.
Advantages of centralization
- Efficient at pursuing high-level government goals due to the concentration of decision-making power.
- Centralization saves money because it avoids duplication within the administration.
- Easier and faster to implement political reforms and policies when decision-making power is concentrated. It avoids tensions amond different governments.
- It favours equality and consistency across regions since, in theory, decisions are taken condering the welfare of the whole country and not of a part of it.
- Makes more difficult the development of local clientelistic networks.
- Easier to develop uniform regulation and to keep a unified single market for business (avoid multiplication of paperwork)
Advantages of decentralization
- Decentralization dynamizes decision-making and avoids bottlenecks
- It creates checks and avoids the risks of the excessive concentration of power.
- It makes policy more responsive to regional and local needs. This may be particuslarly important in ethnically divided countries.
- One-fit-for all approaches to policy are not always effective. Decentralization helps customize policies.
- Decentralization allows the central government to focus on strategic decision-making, planning and coordination.
- Decentralization may trigger a healthy competition among different governments and administrative levels which helps policy innovation.
If you change your mind, you can change your vote simply by clicking on another option.
Political organization: centralization vs decentralization – which is the best approach?
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