Friday, December 27, 2013

Focus on cities

Can cities change the politics of fragile states? Some of the points from the article:
"Despite the many difficult challenges they face, cities are easier to fix than states. The political dynamics of running a city are potentially much more favorable than that of a fragile country for a number of reasons:

First, elections work differently. Whereas national polls pit various ethnic and religious groups against each other, and turn into a mud fight between elites for control of rents earned from natural resource wealth or foreign aid, a city’s compact size, blurring of identities, and daily grind makes elections more a test of competence and pragmatism. There are also many more ways to hold officials accountable in a city than in a huge weakly cohesive country.
Second, the compact size of cities make the creation of mechanisms to promote collective action and to institutionalize negotiation between disparate societal interests easier than at the national level. As Goodfellow, Rodgers and Beall point out, “cities arguably also offer the greatest potential for the development of inclusive institutions for managing political conflict rather than suppressing it. The concentration of diverse actors and state institutions in cities make them, in theory at least, critical spaces for institutionalised forms of political debate and participation that translate into demands on the state rather than violence.”"
And more. The first point is not clear to me. Delhi and Mumbai seem different in the first point above. Nevertheless interesting article.

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