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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Decentralization and democracy may improve the chances for successful economic development. The importance of local government and democracy is evident in the history of many countries, but democratic local government has been less common in Africa than elsewhere. Democratic political competition can improve governance only if voters have a choice among qualified candidates who have good reputations for exercising power responsibly in public service. This essential supply of trusted democratic leadership can develop best in responsible institutions of local government, where successful local leaders can prove their qualifications to become strong competitive candidates for higher office. Thus, a federal constitutional structure that devolves substantial powers to autonomously elected local governments can increase the chances for successful democratic development. Foreign assistance can help to increase this vital supply of leaders with good reputations for spending public funds responsibly if some share of foreign-assistance funding is distributed directly to local governments and other local public service agencies.

Keywords: decentralization, democracy, economic development, federalism, local government

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