Needs and Impediments for Local Government Reform: Lessons from Israel

“I argue that calls for local government reform and prospects for implementation are largely a product of images and external sociopolitical circumstances rather than of particular needs and attributes of the local government system.”

A discussion of images and facts in the case for local government reform in Israel shows that the need for reform was real, but debates were often based on inaccurate perceptions of extreme fragmentation and centralization. Attributes of the sociopolitical environment that form extremely high barriers for reform include ethno-religious heterogeneity, sociopolitical fragmentation, increasing role of courts as the arenas for societal conflicts, and deep involvement of national parties in local politics in a multiparty coalition government structure. The 2001–2003 political and economic crisis in Israel provides insights on the endurance of barriers for reform. It shows that crisis climate and the creation of unfavorable public image of the present local government system have a role in overcoming such barriers.

Published in Journal of Urban Affairs | E. Razin | 2004,,