Decentralizing the State

Elections, Parties, and Local Power in the Andes

by Kathleen O'Neill

This book, first published in 2005, explores the location and dynamics of power within the state, focusing on a recent wave of decentralizing reforms that have swept across both developed and developing countries in recent years. Variation in the timing of reform across countries only vaguely relates to the genesis of an international consensus pushed by big lenders and development banks or the reemergence of democracy in decentralizing countries. The book develops a theory linking decentralization's adoption to the electoral concerns of political parties: decentralization represents a desirable strategy for parties whose support at subnational levels appears more secure than their prospects in national elections. It examines this argument against experiences in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela and speculates on how recent political changes may affect decentralization's shape and extent in coming years.
  • Cambridge University Press; June 2005
  • ISBN: 9780511114113
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Decentralizing the State
  • Author: Kathleen O'Neill
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

"O'Neill takes on a fundamental puzzles in comparative politics -- Why would national-level politicians decentralize power to subnational governments? She finds theories based on economic efficiency and crisis, external pressure from international actors, and internal ethnic heterogeneity lacking, proposes an alternative, electoral theory of decentralization, and tests it against five cases from the Andean region. The research strategy is elegant and clearly stated, and the results are impressive. This is a terrific contribution to our understanding of decentralization."
John Carey, Dartmouth College