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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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.

Keywords: local government, regional government, decentralization, multilevel governance, welfare state, subnational reform

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