Towards normalisation of local democracy in East-Central Europe. A developmental approach to institutional reform

Part of the Urban Research International book series (URI, volume 2)


The introduction of new institutions of local democracy was an inherent and important part of the comprehensive reforms of the early 1990s in East-Central Europe. How did the local experiments turn out? The first period of local democracy (ca 1990–94) was marked by all the challenges of the immediate post-communist environments (Coulson 1995). A large proportion of elected representatives as well as administrators were new to their jobs. The new institutions presented unfamiliar requirements. The first period was not only one of high expectations but also one of learning and adaptation for officials and citizens alike. The learning experience could be seen to vary from shock therapy through quiet resignation to stepwise mastery of local politics and management (Surazska 1997). What was the experience like during the second period, five, six or seven years on? Did a period of normalisation set in, with everyday local democracy, boring management of mundane services, the usual log-rolling among councillors, and the professional frustrations with higher authorities? In short, did local governments in East-Central Europe become increasingly similar to their West European counterparts in their functioning and agendas?


Local Government Community Relation Council Meeting Municipal Employee Administrative Problem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baldersheim, Harald; Bodnarova, Beba; Horvath, Tamas H., and Vajdova, Zdenka, 1996: Functions of the Executive: Power, Leadership, and Management. In: Harald Baldersheim, Gejza Blaas, Tamas M. Horvath, Michal Illner and Pawel Swianiewicz (Eds.): Local Democracy and the Processes of Transformation in East-Central Europe. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, pp. 197–224.Google Scholar
  2. Baldersheim, Harald; Blaas, Gejza; Horvath, Tamas M.: Illner, Michal, and Swianiewicz, Pawel, 1996: New Institutions of Local Government: A Comparison. In: H. Baldersheim et al. (Eds.): Local Democracy and the Processes of Transformation in East-Central Europe. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, pp. 23–42.Google Scholar
  3. Baldersheim, Harald; Illner, Michal; Offerdal, Adun; Rose, Lawrence, and Swianienwicz, Pawel (Eds.), 1996: Local Democracy and the Processes of Transformation in East-Central Europe. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bellah, Robert N.; Madsen, Richard; Sullivan, William M.; Swindler, Ann, and Tipton, Steven M., 1985: Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. Berkely: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bertelsmann Stiftung, 1993: The Bertelsmann Prize 1993. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. Beyme, Klaus von, 1996: Transition to Democracy in Eastern Europe. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Coulson, Andrew (Ed.), 1995: Local Government in Eastern Europe. Establishing Democracy at the Grassroots. Aldershot, Eng.: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  7. Holmes, Leslie, 1997: Post-communism. An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. Illner, Michal, 1997: Territorial Decentralisation — a Stumbling Block of Democratic Reforms in East-Central Europe. Polish Sociological Review, 1 (117), pp. 23–45.Google Scholar
  9. John, Peter and Cole, Alistair, 2000: Policy Networks and Local Political Leadership in Britain and France. In: G. Stoker (Ed.): The New Politics of British Local Governance. London: Macmillan Press, pp. 72–90.Google Scholar
  10. Karl, Terry L. and Schmitter, P. C., 1991: Modes of Transition in Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe. International Social Science Journal, No. 43, pp. 260–284.Google Scholar
  11. Lawrence, Paul R. and Lorsch, Jay W., 1967: Organizations and Environment. Boston: Havard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Lowther, Elisabeth (Ed.), 1994: Local Governments in the CEE and CIS, 1994. Budapest: Institute for Local Government and Public Service.Google Scholar
  13. March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P., 1989: Rediscovering Institutions. The Organizational Basis of Politics. N.Y.: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P., 1995: Democratic Governance. N.Y.: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  15. Merton, Robert, 1949/68: Patterns of Influence: A Study of Interpersonal Influence and Communications Behavior in a Local Community. In: P. E. Lazarsfeld and F. Stanton (Eds.): Communications in Research. New York: Free Press. (Reprinted as: Patterns in Influence: Local and Cosmopolitan Influentials. In: R. Merton, 1968: Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press, pp. 441–474.Google Scholar
  16. North, D.C., 1990: Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pfeffer, Jeffrey and Salancik, Gerald, 1978: The External Control of Organizations. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  18. Sharpe, L. J., 1970: Theories and Values of Local Government. Political Studies XVIII, pp. 153–174.Google Scholar
  19. Soos, Gabor, 2001: The Indicators of Local Democratic Governance Project. Concepts and Hypotheses. Budapest: Tocqueville Research Center.Google Scholar
  20. Strand, Torodd, 1993: Bureaucrats and other Managers: Roles in Transition. In: K. A. Eliassen and J. Kooimann (Eds.): Managing Public Organizations. Lessons from Contemporary European Experience. London: Sage, pp. 157–173.Google Scholar
  21. Strömberg, Lars, 1996: Problemuppfatningar. In: L. Rose (Ed.): Kommuner och kommunale ledare i Norden. Abo: Abo Akademi, pp. 43–62.Google Scholar
  22. Surazska, Wisla, 1997: Balu burmistra, Warsaw: Rzeczpospolita.Google Scholar
  23. Wollmann, Hellmut, 1997: Institution building and decentralization in formerly socialist countries: the cases of Poland, Hungary, and East Germany. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 15, pp. 463–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2003

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations