Symposium: The transformation of urban political leadership in Western Europe

Olivier Borraz, Peter John

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This overview article sets out the broad themes behind the transformation of local political leadership, in particular the forces that have led to the introduction of stronger forms of local executive, such as directly elected mayors. After setting out the role of local political leadership in traditional local government and different traditions and patterns across Western Europe, the article sets out the likely factors driving the changes toward a stronger form of leadership in the more complex pattern of governing described as local governance: complex networks, the 'new political culture'. Europeanization of public policy and institutional mimetism. The article observes that the articles in this symposium do not fully confirm these hypotheses, showing the complexity of the responses and the different contexts across Western Europe. The concluding sections draw together the implications of the stronger forms of local executive for the current practice and functioning of local politics and policy-making: the legitimacy crisis that may have emerged from more autonomous political leaders, which combines with the decline in the conventional measures of local political participation; the lack of complementary institutional resources to assist the performance of the enhanced executive function; and the emergence of a new north-south divide in governing styles. © Joint Editors and Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


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