This article examines a subset of grassroots or voluntary associations that work primarily at the local level to promote strong grassroots participation in civil society. It explains that voluntary associations are often assumed to be synonymous with civil society and an engaged democratic citizenry and reviews the definition and scope of these associations and their relationships to other civil society groups. It introduces a category of associations called social change organizations and provides two examples showing how new alliances between different types of grassroots association are emerging to link local work with larger efforts to build civic voice.
Swedish local government has a strong position within the unitary nation state. At first sight, this could be understood as a paradox if decentralization and central control are treated as contradictory concepts. However, in countries such as Sweden, with a relatively generous welfare system that emphasizes equal access, strong local and regional governments can be seen as means of avoiding the pitfalls of rigorous standardization by allowing adjustment of national welfare services to local circumstances. This requires legitimate, responsible, and capable local and regional politicians. Subnational government also has additional tasks as providers of locally generated collective services, such as road maintenance, parks, recreation, and cultural facilities. The contributions in this section are all based on the most recent research in the field. They discuss Swedish subnational government with regard to its internal workings, horizontal relationships, reform trajectories, and position in relation to other systems of local and regional government.
Local self-government has been recognized as a distinctive feature of the Swedish political system for many decades, and still is. However, from the 1980s a new era of change and reform has taken place, which to some extent challenges the image of local self-government and local representative democracy. Two basic tensions are explored: that between central control and local self-government, and between coherence and fragmentation in local governance. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between politics and administration, increased organizational complexity, new relations between citizens and local government, and changing modes of central government control and how the local system is coordinated.
Olusoji Adeyi, Ayodeji O. Odutolu, John Idoko, and Phyllis Kanki
Nigeria bears one of the largest burdens of HIV infection in the world. Key features of the country’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic illustrate the experiences of many low- and middle-income countries. The country’s response is the result of an interplay of policy and political commitment, the work of professionals from multiple disciplines, cross-sectoral programming, and financing from domestic government budgets, household expenditures, and development partners. Sustained progress in Nigeria’s response to HIV/AIDS requires improvements in the effective coverage of services along the spectrum of prevention, treatment, care, and support for those infected. These will also benefit from an effective health system in the context of Universal Health Coverage. Achieving sustainable financing remains a key challenge.
Spanish public administration belongs to the Rechtsstaat tradition in which the state is society’s driving force and relies on a procedural and legalistic system to engage with citizens. This chapter argues that this tradition has an impact on the state capacity, in particular in the coordination, delivery, and analytical functions of central government, whose role shifted towards coordination and regulation after the devolution of powers to the regions. The global economic and financial crisis of the mid-2010s forced the core executive to implement strategies to obtain efficiencies in service delivery. But the administrative system suffers from enduring problems of politicization, inadequate organizational design that is procedure oriented rather than focusing on outputs and outcomes, and the lack of a competency framework to support civil servants in the use of a more managerial style of designing and delivering policies and services.
The aim of this chapter is to analyze subnational government in Sweden from a multilevel governance (MLG) perspective. This is done by considering subnational government in relation to (a) the welfare state and (b) the European Union (EU). Firstly, it is concluded that Sweden’s formal status as a member of the EU since 1995 has created an additional political level of importance to subnational government. Secondly, it is concluded that MLG is also relevant to consider in a national context. This is evident through negotiations between central and local government concerning welfare policy, such as health care and policy targeting the elderly.