Citizen support for Increasing the Responsibilities of Local Government in European Countries: A Comparative Analysis

  • Keith Baker Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, University of Southampton
  • Steven Van de Walle Erasmus University Rotterdam, Dept. of Public Administration
  • Chris Skelcher Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham


The transfer of responsibilities from central to local government has often been justified on the grounds of efficiency and democracy under the principle of subsidiarity. The existing models for mapping local government power in Europe, however, are often insufficiently detailed to allow an in-depth comparison, and little is known about the level of citizen support for increasing the responsibilities of local government. This paper attempts to expand this knowledge base by using financial local government data and opinion data from the European Values Study to analyse these questions. It relates the level of local government responsibilities in Europe to the level of citizen support for increasing local government responsibilities. These findings are then used to develop a research agenda on local government measurement, and to reflect on the difficulties facing the European comparative local government researcher. Keywords: • comparative local government • citizen attitudes • local government power • decentralisation • local government spending