good_urb_gov_model_city_Bogota_Gilbert-06[1] - Bulletin of...

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Good Urban Governance: Evidence from a Model City? ALAN GILBERT University College London, UK Few cities in Latin America provide much evidence of good governance. However, during the last fifteen years, Bogota ´ has been transformed and now qualifies in certain respects as an example of ‘best practice’. The paper considers how Bogota ´ changed and whether it can continue its improvement, an especially interesting question insofar as a left-wing administration has been in charge since 2004. Of course, the city is by no means perfect and national issues continue to create difficulties both for the poor and for the local administration. Keywords: governance, poverty, democracy, decentralisation, Colombia. Over the last twenty years Latin America has participated strongly in what Huntington, 1991) has labelled ‘Third Wave democratization’. Unlike the military dictatorships and authoritarian governments that dominated the region in the 1970s, most national governments today are freely elected. Democratically elected national governments in turn have stimulated the rise of democracy at the local level and, today, most mayors and town councils are elected (Rodrı´guez, 1997; Tendler, 1997; Ward, 1996, 1998; Myers and Dietz, 2002; Ruble, Stren, Tulchin and Varat, c .2003). Advocates of decentralisation argue that elected mayors are much more responsive to local needs than mayors appointed directly by the national president. As such, local democracy, particularly if it is associated with higher levels of popular participation, will improve the deficient quality of local governance. As Van Lindert and Nijenhuis (2003: 175) put it: ‘popular participation is an important ingredient of good governance. In theory, the transfer of functions and funds to sub-national levels makes it easier for people to participate in local decision-making concerning key issues that affect their lives’. Neoliberal thinking, combined with the quest for better governance, has also encour- aged the delegation of more responsibility to local government. Many central governments have delegated control over previously centralised services, like education, health and infrastructure provision, to local authorities. Financial transfers from central government have sometimes followed the new responsibilities but generally local governments have been encouraged to generate more of their own resources. Decentralisation, it is hoped, will bring greater efficiency, more local accountability and less corruption (Keiner et al., 2005). Some believe that this double shift, towards democracy and decentralisation, her- alds a fundamental change towards better urban governance (World Bank, 2003). # The Author 2006
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This note was uploaded on 09/23/2011 for the course USP 480 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at S.F. State.

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good_urb_gov_model_city_Bogota_Gilbert-06[1] - Bulletin of...

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