Systems of local governance and how citizens participate: international review

Analyses local governance systems in seven case studies across the world, and how citizens are able to participate in local governance. The case studies are Denmark, England, Germany, New Zealand, Quebec, Scotland, and Uruguay.


1. What is Governance? | Institute on Governance (

2. A typology of political systems has identified four state traditions that originate in Europe: Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, French and Scandinavian. The traditions reflect differences along a number of features: whether a basis for the 'state' exists; the relationship between the state and society; the form of political organisation; the approach to policy development; the form of decentralisation; and the dominant approach to public administration. For more details see Loughlin, J. and B. G. Peters (1997). 'State traditions, administrative reform and regionalization', in Keating, M. and J. Loughlin (eds.), The Political Economy of Regionalism. London: Routledge, pp. 41–62.

3. Below the single level of local authorities in Scotland, there are community councils which have a legislative footing. However, they do not possess the authority or decision-making responsibility equivalent to the local governance structures described across the case studies. They are considered further under citizen participation.

4. For example, see Heinelt, H., Magnier, A., Cabria, H., Reynaert, M. (eds.), (2018) Political Leadership and Changing Local Democracy: the European Mayor. Palgrave Macmillan; and, Sweeting, D. (ed.), (2017) Directly Elected Mayors in Urban Governance: Impact and Practice. Policy Press.

5. The following illustrate this view. Erlingson, G. & Odalen, J. 2013. How should local government be organised? Reflections from a Swedish perspective. Local Government Studies 39 (1), 22-46. Kerley, R., Liddle, J. and Dunning, P. T. (eds). 2020. The Routledge Handbook of International Local Government. Routledge.

6. Bertrana, X., Egner, B. and Heinelt H., (2017). Policy Making at the Second Tier of Local Government in Europe. Oxfordshire: Routledge.

7. OECD (2020). Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave, OECD Publishing, Paris,

8. Elstub, S. and Escobar, O. (2019). Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

9. GSoD – there is no single index for the attribute of participatory engagement (PE); scores are given for each of the PE sub-attributes of: civil society participation, electoral participation, direct democracy, and free local and regional elections.

10. Gini Index : A score below 30 is considered low inequality; over 30 and below 50, medium; above 50, high inequality.

11. Measures/scores relate to Canada as data for sub-national jurisdictions is not available.

12. Measures/scores relate to the United Kingdom as separate data for Scotland and England is not available.

13. Blom‐Hansen, J. and Heeager, A. (2011). 'Denmark: Between Local Democracy and Implementing Agency of the Welfare State' in Hendriks F., Lidström, A., and Loughlin, J. The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press

14. Blom‐Hansen, J. and Heeager, A. (2011). 'Denmark: Between Local Democracy and Implementing Agency of the Welfare State' in Hendriks F., Lidström, A., and Loughlin, J. The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

15. Sorensen, E and Torfing, J, 2019, Towards a robust hybrid democracy in Scandinavian municipalities, Scandinavian Political Studies, 42(1), pp. 25-49



18. The final two listed are not led by mayors.

19. Furthermore, while councils can define the amount of council tax they want to collect up to that level, council tax bands are set by the central government.


21. The reduction was due to the loss of Community Boards in the councils that were amalgamated into Auckland Council and replaced with 21 Local Boards.

22. This includes 875 municipalités locales under the Municipal Code; 232 which fall under the Loi sur les cités et villes;
14 which fall under the Loi sur les villages nordiques et l'Administration régionale Katvik; 9 which fall under the Loi sur les villages cris et le village naskapi; See

23. For a full list of the competencies, see:



26. G. Chiasson and A. Mévellec (2014), 'The 2013 Quebec municipal elections: What is specific to Quebec?', Canadian Journal of Urban Research 23(2)




30. Anne Mévellec and Manon Tremblay (2013), 'Les partis politi ques municipiaux: La 'westminsterisation' des villes du Quebec?', Recherches sociographiques, LIV, 2, 2013 : 325-347




34. This power was never used; now replaced in Scotland Act 2012 by the power to set Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT).

35. The block grant was calculated using the 'Barnett Formula', which adjusts the funds allocated to Scotland in proportion to spending in other parts of the UK by the UK Government. Since the devolution of fiscal and social security powers to Scotland through the Scotland Act 2016, Block Grant Adjustments are used to tailor Scottish Government's funding.

36. 55.3% to 44.7% voted against independence, turnout was 84.6%.

37. Scotland's Fiscal Outlook, Scottish Government, May 2018.

38. The First Past the Post voting system elects the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency.

39. Scottish (Elections) Reform Act 2020.

40. Borders, Central, Dumfries and Galloway, Grampian, Highland, Lothian, Orkney, Strathclyde, Shetland, Tayside, Western Isles.

41. As an illustration, Dundee City is the smallest council territory, covering 60km2, while Highland is the largest, covering 25,659km2. Glasgow City has the largest population of 621,000 and Clackmannanshire has the smallest with 51,500.

42. The Police and Fire Reform Act 2012 transferred the police and fire services from local to central government and the funding was transferred out of the local government settlement.

43. Non-domestic (business) rates are taxes paid on non-domestic properties in Scotland. Rates are based on the value of the property, as determined by independent assessors. A review of business rates, the 'Barclay' review, published its findings in 2017. Its recommendations were taken forward through the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill currently going through the Scottish parliament.

44. The Local Government Finance Act 1992 introduced a system of domestic property taxation, known as council tax, based on a property's value, assigned in bands. A commission on Local Tax Reform, established by Scottish Government and COSLA, concluded in 2015 that council tax should be abolished and replaced with an alternative that is "fairer, more progressive and locally empowering." The Council Tax (Substitution of Proportion) (Scotland) Order 2016 made amendments to the existing model.

45. Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973

46. Transport (Scotland) Act 2001

47. Provisions for Community Councils in Scotland were introduced under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

48. Panorama del Nivel…

49. The municipios in Montevideo range in size from 147,000 to 207,000 population. The Municipio Digital platform, run by the presidential Office for Planning and Budgeting (OPP), contains current information about Uruguay's municipios. See:

50. See:

51. See the October 2019 annual report on the development of the municipios, which presents data on funding and expenditure for 2018:

52. Benjamin Goldfrank (2002), 'The fragile flower of local democracy: A case study of decentralization/participation in Montevideo', Politics and Society 30(1), 51-83.

53. Uwe Serdült and Yanina Welp (2015), 'How sustainable is democratic innovation? Tracking neighborhood councils in Montevideo', Journal of Politics in Latin America 2/2015, 131-148.



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