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Dysfunctional Nations and Rising Cities

to what extent could an elected mayor of a European city improve policies of the local government and the perception of its inhabitants?

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Dysfunctional Nations and Rising Cities

to what extent could an elected mayor of a European city improve policies of the local government and the perception of its inhabitants?

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

The nation-state had a long history of success, but today it is failing its citizens on a global scale. Over the last hundred years, nation-states focussed on maximizing internal unity and jurisdictional sovereignty. Benjamin R. Barber’s ‘If Mayors Ruled The World’ is the central source of this thesis and the aim of Barber’s book is to focus on the ability of cities to cooperate across borders and govern globally in ways that nations cannot. Barber claims that true democracy can be achieved if we let cities do what states cannot. Barber outlines a body in global governance that can be effective in a world where “power is shared at the several levels by inter-state regions, states, provinces, and local authorities” (Barber, 2014, p. 320). This body, a Parliament of Mayors, could meet three times a year in different cities – to create an ongoing feeling of engagement.
The relationship between de findings of Barber and other leading theoretical work can be
found in cities’ growing responsibilities and the growing interconnectivity between cities all over the world. However, Barber’s idea of a Parliament of Mayors receives sharp oppositions. Therefore, implementation of Barber’s idea of a Parliament of Mayors requires clarification of different important areas. The concept of decentralisation, local spheres of governance, representation, participation, mayoral elections and global challenges are the main areas of this thesis.
There are two main arguments that will show why the first area, local spheres of governance,
will allow citizens to engage in local governance. Firstly, (1) engagement of citizens on local
governance will arise naturally due to the shift of power towards cities. Secondly, (2) citizens are very likely to connect with their mayor. I believe that (1) “Establishing Direct Representation in the Global Parliament or in a Parallel Parliament of Regions” is the most suitable solution to the second area, representation. There are two main reasons that will explain why the area of mayoral participation does not require that all mayors attend meetings of the Parliament of Mayors. Firstly, (1) everything that the Parliament decides remains voluntary. Secondly, (2) it is relatively easy to collaborate via internet and therefore, mayors are not required to physically attend meetings. The fourth area, mayoral
elections, remains the most difficult area to answer due to the differences in the world. However, Barber believes that directly elected mayors are a necessity for implementation of a Parliament of Mayors. The last area discussed in this thesis, global challenges, have a high (inter)national impact due to (1) the organisations Mayors for Peace, (2) C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, (3) United Cities and Local Governments and due to concepts such as (4) City Visas.
Due to the differences in the world on the election or appointment of mayors, I have decided
to focus merely on the Netherlands. The current situation in the Netherlands will be researched based on three different areas.
Firstly, the concept of decentralisation has been discussed. The Netherlands is very
progressive on decentralising national governance. The recent changes in the Social Support Act set a perfect example of decentralisation in the Netherlands. Secondly, the discussion on implementing direct elected mayors has been explained. Implementation of direct elected mayors requires changing the Dutch constitution and therefore, approval of two third of the Second Chamber and the Senate is required. Thirdly, a clear picture of the well-functioning National and International city networks in the Netherlands will be given.
I do not believe that directly elected mayors will improve policies of local governments in the
Netherlands. If Dutch mayors were to be elected directly, their responsibilities and tasks would change enormously within the municipality. Mayors should have a steering function in local government but they will be obligated to spend valuable time on politics and re-elections if mayors are elected directly. Mayors can be seen as presidents of local government, uniting councillors within their municipality and therefore I believe that they should not engage in political discussions between different political parties.
In many different occasions, cities proved that they are better than nations in tackling cross
border issues such as environment and safety. Over the last decades, nations have had the tendency to work counterproductive. The reason for that behaviour is relatively easy to explain. Nations do not need each other to achieve a national goal because their main interest is the growth and sustainability of themselves. Cities however, cannot do much apart from each other but they can constitute a great power in global partnership.
A Parliament of Mayors, as a deliberative body that influences each other by using soft power,
could become very important in our future. I believe that a Parliament of Mayors should use meetings as a way to share best practices, stay connected with each other and extend collaborative achievements of different city networks. If this is how Barber’s Parliament of Mayors will function, it would not be significantly different from international organisations such as UCLG and therefore it would not be that different from the work that mayors all over the world are already doing on a daily basis.
A democratically elected mayor could improve policies of the local government and the
perception of its inhabitants to a small extent but I do not believe that it would significantly change the level of democracy in the world. Hence, I believe that local governments and their networks are key. Collaborations between cities and municipalities through international communities and city networks such as UCLG can improve policies of the local government.

Toon meer
OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
OpleidingESC Europese Studies / European Studies
AfdelingAcademie voor European Studies & Communication
Jaar2014
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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