Coercive Municipal Amalgamation Today - With Illustrations from Estonia -

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Wolfgang Drechsler


This essay presents coercive municipal amalgamation as one of the most serious threats to local government today. But this is without rational base, as all recent empirical investigations deny a connection between size and efficiency in such cases; theory, likewise, speaks against automatic efficiency gains, as efficiency is task-dependent and thus a function of appropriateness. Then the Estonian case is reviewed, finding that the current, traditional attempts at coercive amalgamation are a typical example of non-rational public-sector reform. Finally, the essay makes the point that matters so fundamental for democracy as municipal autonomy are beyond expert opinion anyway, which necessarily has the habit of changing, but they need to be decided by the citizens involved themselves.

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