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Romeo (2012): Beyond politics-driven decentralisation

In this presentation Leonardo Romeo argues the following:

  1. Decentralization is commonly discussed as part of the “good governance” agenda, much less of the “developmental state” agenda.….Yet in most developing countries the most pressing issue (and amore realistic goalfor aid influence) isnotto change the State from autocratic to democratic, but to shift its behavior  from a predatory to a developmental mode
  2. The instrumentality of decentralization for development, needs to be re-emphasized. This would help move the discussion from a “good” to a “good-enough” governance agenda and to examine how decentralization may contribute to buildingdevelopmental states.
  3. PEA may allow aid agencies to develop a deeper understanding of the political drivers of the reforms and how they affect the prospects of local governance and development. Political economy analysis is taking a center stage and aid agencies are increasingly committed to “think politically”. Much more difficult is to take the next step and also “act politically”.  This would mean to identify and support reform champions, to think like them, and to accept the detours and the tactical retreats that such champions must take to keep the reforms alive and build a social and political constituency for them. All this is very difficult for aid agencies to do, (perhaps even more so for the big multi-lateral institutions). Corporate mandates and incentives and limited in-country capacity are powerful constraints to the risk-taking  attitude that would be necessary. 
  4. Donors should go beyond the standard fiscal decentralization framework and link decentralization to development by supporting:
  • A specific understanding of Local Development
  • A national policy supportive of Local Development (LD)
  • A meaningful degree of local autonomy
  • A social demand for the reforms
  • A degree of active citizenship in local governance
  • A stronger leadership by LG officials and their Associations. 

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Herrero Alisa
18 July 2012

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