How Coerced Municipal Amalgamations Thwart the Values of Local Self-Government

“Arguments invoking increased functional efficiency have had a profound impact on local government reforms in advanced democracies during the past 60 years. Consequently, most mature democracies have implemented municipal amalgamation reforms, often through top-down coercion. In this article, we demonstrate how far central governments have been willing to go, in terms of coercion, by providing an in-depth historical account of Swedish municipal amalgamations between 1952 and 1974.

Debates on amalgamation reforms have typically revolved around pros and cons of mergers. But very few discussions have addressed the more fundamental moral problem of enforcing amalgamations through coercion. Often, large-scale mergers are carried through against the expressed will of municipalities who wish to remain self-governing. In this article, we present a normative defense of strong local self-government, based partly on values of individual autonomy, and partly on group-based human rights, and we show how coerced amalgamations are at odds with these values.”

Gissur Ó. Erlingsson, Jörgen Ödalen, Erik Wångmar | Published 20 May 2020 | Political Science | Urban Affairs Review,