Decentralization in parliamentary systems: new perspectives on its causes and consequences
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This dissertation investigates one of the most conspicuous developments of recent decades in Western and Eastern European parliamentary systems: the decentralization of government. Political science often assumes that political actors seek to consolidate political, administrative and fiscal authority. Thus, it is perplexing that central governments and parties willingly transfer powers to subnational units. This project posits new theoretical arguments that the decision to decentralize is largely a partisan strategy for political gain, and that the partisan composition of governments can determine when parties strategically pursue reform. I first explore how the partisan composition of parliamentary governments stimulates the decision to create subnational levels of government. Second, I examine how government composition and political institutions shape choices about the magnitude of decentralization. Finally, I reverse the dependent variable and test the consequences of decentralized government on democratic participation. This study finds limited evidence that decentralization is beneficial to democratic citizenship, but numerous reasons why it will persist as a strategic tool for political actors.
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