Local Government in Greece 2011 A legal Perspective

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Local Government in Greece 2011 A legal Perspective
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    From: Local government in the Member States of the European Union: a comparative legal perspective, INAP, Mari !"#!$ %ngel&Manuel Moreno 'eitor(, Local )overnment in )reece  Nikolaos-Komninos Hlepas #$ *istorical +acgroun: Local )overnment in a unitar- .napoleonic/ state Consolidation of the Modern Greek state (since1833) has been connected to the imposition of centralism and the abandonment of an old autonomist tradition that characterized the kind of “fragmented” societ that !as tpical of man countries under "ttoman rule 1 # # $n a countr used to numerous centres of po!er% no such centre could accept the rule of the national go&ernment# 'he iron hand of the a&arian regents !as the onl one that managed to abolish thousands of historical communes (“oinotites”) and unif them in some *+,  Demoi  (municipalities)# -urthermore% the territor of the ne!.born state has been di&ided% according to the -rench model% in 1,  prefectures (“nomoi”)# 'he prefects !ere appointed b the ing and !ere responsible to super&ise the municipalities# /ight after the &ictor of Constitutionalism (18**)% local self.go&ernment !as established as an important arena for part competition and an indispensable source of democratic legitimac# 0nlike the -rench model% ho!e&er% the accumulation of mandates has ne&er been accepted and a clear distinction bet!een the “national” (M2s% Ministers) and the “local” (Maors% Councillors) political personnel !as made# oth categories !ere important for the kind of “backstage localism” that characterised Greek politics and rounded off the maoritarian% polarised and strictl representati&e  political sstem of the countr 4 # 5speciall after the introduction .for the first time in 5urope. of uni&ersal suffrage (186*)% the directl elected maors could further fortif their influence# 0sing the techni7ues of clientelism% local politicians became so  po!erful that M2s !ould hardl dare to ignore maors of their constituenc# 1  oliopoulos and eremis% 4,,4# 4  9lepas% 4,,3% p# 441# 1   $n 1:14% the inno&ati&e liberal statesman 5leftherios enizelos% tring to oppose clientelism and corruption but also follo!ing a romantic ideolog that demanded the return ;back to the roots of 9ellenism;% ordered the re&i&al of the communes (<2koinotites”)# 'he M=s ha&e been% in this manner% liberated from the maors but local go&ernment has been fragmentised into >, demoi (cities and to!ns of more than 1,#,,, inhabitants) and more than +#,,, communes (the smaller to!ns and &illages) .the latter depending on state grants# -or the ne?t decades% the municipalities ha&e been constantl losing competence% since most of them !ere much too small and depending on state grants# "n the other hand% the prefectures and se&eral state 7uangos took o&er the main functions of local administration# 'he so.called ; deconcentration-system ; has  been substantiall strengthened# @ccording to Greek understanding% such a sstem is established !hen the central state creates non.central administrati&e units and entitles them to decide about a considerable part of public affairs !ithin their district# 'hese deconcentrated units are to be distinguished from municipalities since their heads .opposite to the maors. are appointed b the go&ernment# 'he latter !as usuall much more !illing to hand o&er competence to the politicall faithful ;decentralised;  prefects than to the maors# Aocal go&ernment declined into a useful protest platform for political parties in opposition and a pro&ider of elementar ser&ices# -urthermore% municipalities ha&e been subugated to numerous and intensi&e controls from central and prefectural bureaucracies#Aike other southern 5uropean states% Greece e?perienced long periods political instabilit% ci&il !ar and dictatorship# Centralism !as further enhanced and !ent along !ith hierarchical and authoritarian rule# @fter the establishment of stable democratic sstem in the se&enties% ust like other south 5uropean countries% Greek efforts to democratize the political sstem% pointed out the o&ercoming of centralism as a maor challenge and necessit on the !a to 5uropeanization and modernization of state and  politics# !$ Never&ening reforms0 Boon after accession to the 5uropean Communit (1:81)% Bocialists came into  po!er and undertook se&eral reform efforts De! forms of participation !ere introduced% !hile local authorities !ere encouraged to pro&ide social ser&ices% establish municipal enterprises% and endorse sporting and cultural acti&ities# De! 4   institutions for inter.municipal co.operation (sndicates% “programmatic” contracting etc#) !ere introduced% !hile the discretionar po!er of municipalities !as enlarged through abolition of a priori state controls# -urthermore% a gro!ing number of municipalities !are becoming familiar !ith the chances offered b 5uropean initiati&es and programmes% international net!orking and public.pri&ate.partnership#  Donetheless% the re&enues of the municipalities remained inade7uate for their tasks% so that the strongl depended on grants from the state# 5armarked grants and national funds for local de&elopment proects continued being essential tools of central state%  part and patron influence% traditionall used according to a “carrot and stick” method#  the late eighties% ho!e&er% state funding became more transparent and obecti&e% through the introduction of ne! general grants% the so.called “central autonomous funds”% co&ering an important part of operating and capital e?penditure# @lthough important decentralization reforms !ere continuall initiated since the earl eighties% it is ob&ious that Greek socialists !ere not reall !illing (or reall able) to !ithdra! the dominant% historicall rooted centralist patterns of state% part and social hierarchies# 0nlike the Bpanish socialists that managed to create the “Communidades @utonomas” and transform centralist Bpain into a 7uasi federalist countr% unlike the -rench Bocialists !ho created strong regional self.go&ernment and endorsed !ide.reaching decentralisation% Greek Bocialists pro&ed to be rather cautious%  preferring incremental% step b step procedures and reform options that !ould not put the primac of central go&ernment into 7uestion# 0nlike Bpain and -rance% Greece !as a small countr% missing a strong and independent state bureaucrac% !hile Greek regional identities !ere rather !eak (under the e?ception of Crete) and Greek political  parties !ere far from reaching Eest 5uropean standards% in terms of internal part democrac5fforts to “municipalize” the prefectures (“nomarchies”) and create a second tier of local go&ernment failed t!ice (1:86 and 1::,)% until finall in 1::* the 161.ears.old state institution of the nomarchia !as transformed into a local go&ernment authorit# 'hus% the so.called “refectural Belf.Go&ernments” (BG2s) !ere established# refectures !ere “municipalised2 as a !hole% prefects (“nomarchs”) and  prefectural councils !ere directl elected in "ctober 1::*% !hile funds% personnel and most of the responsibilities of the former state.prefectures !ere transferred in toto to the +, BG2s# Boon after!ards% “deconcentrated” state administration has been re.grouped at a higher le&el% !here 13 /egions (“eripheries”)% as units of “peripheral” 3   state administration ha&e been organized% also undertaking an important part of  pre&iousl “prefectural” state tasks# 0p to the mid.nineties local go&ernment reforms in Greece !ere rather focusing on decentralization of responsibilities% on political “healing” after a long  period of authoritarian state rule% broadening legitimac and fostering political stabilit# 'here !ere gains in consensus through participation broadening% as !ell as learning processes for societal and political actors# $t !as ob&ious% ho!e&er% that efficienc !ould% sooner or later% become an important issue of the reform agenda# 'he shift from legitimac to efficienc during the late nineties !as mainl due to 5uropeanization (a great deal of 5uropean la! has to be implemented b local go&ernments% !ho are also eager to take full ad&antage of 5uropean funding)% fiscal stress and pressures deri&ing from Globalization# -urthermore% a relati&e failure of se&eral participator institutions and procedures could be stated# Malfunction of  participation !as connected to main features of socio.economic and political structures Damel the fragmentation into sectoral interests% clientelistic relations% !eakness of ci&il societ% political polarization% lack of transparent bargaining and negotiation mores% an e?tremel indi&idualistic political culture# More specificall% local societies pro&ed to be rather !eak (in terms of local political identit and social capital)% trapped in traditional &ertical net!orks of interest intermediation (connecting local actors !ith central decision making)# -inall% b the late nineties% the state tried to cope !ith lo! efficienc in local go&ernment and promoted the most remarkable reform of this period% namel the “Capodistrias lan” of amalgamations# $n fact% the mandator unification of municipalities in 1::8% ga&e a uni7ue e?ample of a radical reform through amalgamations in southern 5urope 'he “Capodistrias.lan” !as not ust a plan to merge municipalities% but also a national and regional de&elopment and !orks  programme% !ith a time scope of fi&e ears (1::>.4,,1)# 'he ne! local authorities !ould obtain the financial resources and the 7ualified staff the needed in order to set up a “modern and effecti&e” unit of local administration that !ould act as an “instrument and a pole of de&elopment” (easier taking ad&antage of 50 funds) for its territor# $n this !a% the citizen !ould ha&e more influence on local politics% since the ne! municipalities !ould de&elop a much !ider range of acti&ities (“participator effect” of amalgamations)# @t the same time% continued representation of the old rural municipalities !ould be pro&ided through local% directl elected communit councils# *   'he total number of municipalities has been cut do!n b 8,F% a  percentage that !ould be e&en higher if the metropolitan areas of @thens and 'hessaloniki% !hich !ere e?empted from the amalgamations.plan and included more than 16, municipalities (and half of the countr2s total population)% !ere not taken into account# 'he a&erage population of the municipalities climbed up from about 1#6,, to more than 11#,,,% !hile the a&erage number of municipalities in each prefecture fell from about 14, (116%+) to a little bit more than 4, (4,%66) units# 1able #: Number of Prefectures an Municipalities in )ree 2egions '!""3(2E)I4NS.Peripheria/P2EFE51U2ES .Nomarchia/MUNI5IPALI1IES.6emos/ or .7oinotis/ 5ast# Macedonia. 'hrace4++Central Macedonia>13*Eest# Macedonia*615pirus*>6'hessal*1,*$onian $slands*3:Eest# Greece3>*Central Greece+:+@ttica314*eloponnese+1,> Dorth @egean336Bouth @egean4+8Crete*>1 SUMS8"#"9 Source: Ministry of Interior (2008 uite a fe! of the ne! municipalities still seemed% ho!e&er% to be too small to e?ercise se&eral additional responsibilities (local police% minor harbours etc#) !hich ha&e been after!ards transferred to the first tier of local go&ernment# Metropolitan areas that had been e?empted from amalgamations !ere suffering from ongoing fragmentation into a large number of municipalities (Maor @thens included more than 14, municipalities)# Becond tier local authorities !ere to small and too !eak to support municipalities and o&ertake supra.local functions (especiall concerning local de&elopment proect% !hereas both tiers depri&ed financial resources and specialized staff# ublic criticism targeted maladministration and corruption% !hile traditional sstem of state super&ision pro&ed to be unable to pre&ent !ide.spread illegal practices +
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