Attitudes of European Local Councillors towards Local Governance Reforms: A North-South Divide?

Eran Razin*, Anna Hazan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The impact of governance attributes on frequently overlooked attitudes of local councillors towards local governance reform agendas is assessed, based on the MAELG survey of approximately 11,000 councillors in 15 European countries and Israel. Eighteen policy statements are grouped into six reform agendas, followed by analyses of their explanatory factors. Europe's north-south divide is found meaningful for the understanding of variations in attitudes towards reform, being most profound in notions of democracy, participation and devolution. Southern Europe, including post-communist Europe, shows clear support for new democratic mechanisms, whereas northern European councillors reveal more reserved, perhaps weary, attitudes towards reforms. Councillors may provide the 'correct' statements in the south, because less has been reformed there so far, knowing that change would anyway be difficult. Substantial variations between different northern sub-groups could be linked to the memory of non-democratic regimes in Germany and Austria and to the influence of existing systems, deeply embedded in local political cultures. Nevertheless, the impact of present institutional practices is far from universal. Councillors in liberal regimes are not pro-privatisation, and cautious attitudes towards reform are shared by northern decentralised and centralised countries.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)264-291
Number of pages28
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article forms part of the Municipal Assemblies in European Local Governance (MAELG) project. For details of this project and the other 15 partners see: cities000. Research of the Israeli team was supported by the Germany-Israel Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF). The authors thank Shiri Glick and Eitan Bluer for research assistance.


  • Councillors
  • Europe
  • local government reform
  • local government typologies
  • north-south divide


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