The rise and fall of regionalism in Hungary

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Pálné Kovács, Ilona
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Károlyi József Alapítvány ; L'Harmattan
Hungary has been a centralized country throughout 1000 years of its history. 1990 was the first time Hungary had a chance to shape a decentralised system while making serious efforts to adjust it to the standards of the European Union and its "cohesion policy': The parallel institutional structures and the jungle of competing geographical and administrative (regional, county and micro-regional) units did not allow the strengthening of the meso-level as a whole. By the end of 2006, the government prescribed regional reorganisation of the deconcentrated public administration organs in the counties. The merger of county organisations on a regional scale did not mean a real change in the functioning. The regions were artificial units, so the new boundaries and seats were rather in the focus of political debate. The regionalisation of regional policy was laden with contradictions. Although the NUTS2 regions became the most influential units having professional development agencies with skilled staff, the entire institutional system of national development policy lost its positions, including the regional level. The new government passed a new constitution, as a symbol of the beginning of a new political era, claiming that the original (neoliberal and decentralised) model created 20 years ago was unsuccessful in coping with the problems and in providing a long term vision for the country. The government refrained from regionalisation stabilizing the old counties as the meso-level of governance. The NUTS2 regions remained only statistical units without any tasks. Here ended 20 years of decentralisation. This shows that territorial reforms cannot and should not be exclusively handled as a part of the European adaptation process and made subordinate to the needs of regional policy. Adaptation to the European Union is not a stable basis for regionalization. The main problem is that Hungary was not able to decentralise its public power system because the driving forces of regionalisation were only external without domestic political commitment to decentralize power.
regionalizmus , regionalizmus - Magyarország
Károlyi E (szerk.) Régiók Európában: Adminisztratív struktúrák és területi identitás. Konferencia helye, ideje: Fehérvárcsurgó, Magyarország, 2015.03.13-2015.03.14. Fehérvárcsurgó; Budapest: Károlyi József Alapítvány ; L'Harmattan, 2016. pp. 171-184. (ISBN:978-963-414-123-5)