Regional Elites, Networks and the Beauty of Regionalism in Hungary

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Pálné Kovács, Ilona
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Springer Netherlands
The rescaling of administrative structures and hierarchies is a Europe-wide phenomenon, often associated with democratisation and increased accountability. This is particularly true within the European Union, where the principle of regionalisation, often referred to as subsidiarity, is embraced in the Copenhagen criteria. Those states which joined the Union after the collapse of communism had to reorganise their spatial administrative hierarchies and decentralise their national administration, often creating two or more new levels of government. This was the case in Hungary, where before 1990, the main regional actors were counties, which were responsible for directing the allocation of resources and managing development. After 1990, local government reforms strengthened local governments at the expense of the counties and left a vacuum at the regional level. However, in the mid-1990s the Hungarian government attempted to create new NUTS2 meso-level regions, partly in response to demands from the European Union and partly to instil a new regional orientation among policymakers. This paper, based on research undertaken in 2002-2008, examines some of the problems in creating new regions. The research found that top-down regionalisation, demanded by the European Union and imposed from above, failed to create a regional identity. Respondents, taken from among regional policymakers and business leaders, are identified with their locality and county but not the new region. Even national policymakers appeared ambivalent, supporters of the regionalisation legislation fearing that it would complicate administration by adding a new layewr of government and opponents arguing that it would weaken the central government. Regionalisation remained a relatively hollow administrative exercise from which civic, business and non-governmental organisations felt excluded despite their nominal participation. The research also found that bottom-up regionalism was potentially more successful, but it was unlikely to succeed unless there was broad-based political support at all levels of the government.
területi kormányzás , regionalizáció , régiók , kormányközi kapcsolatok , regionalizmus - Magyarország
Buček J; Ryder A (szerk.) Governance in Transition. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2014 [!2015]. pp. 109-131. (Springer Geography) (ISBN:978-94-007-5502-4)