1. bookVolume 13 (2020): Issue 2 (December 2020)
Journal Details
First Published
03 Aug 2009
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

The Relationship between Politics and Administration at the Flemish Local Level: Intermunicipal Differences Explained

Published Online: 10 Dec 2020
Volume & Issue: Volume 13 (2020) - Issue 2 (December 2020)
Page range: 141 - 160
Journal Details
First Published
03 Aug 2009
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

When it comes to political-administrative relations, New Public Management has aimed for a stronger differentiation between political and administrative matters and for an empowerment of the administration towards the political level.

This article investigates the perceived degree of administrative discretion at the municipal level in the Flemish region of Belgium. We use data from a survey with Flemish municipal CEOs from 2019.

The results suggest that the degree of administrative discretion in Flemish municipalities is relatively high during policy preparation. Nevertheless, during other phases of the policy cycle most municipal CEOs perceive a certain political impact on the functioning of their administration, which reaches further than steering on the main policy lines. Second, a majority identifies a lack of mutual trust between the executive board and the administrators.

Furthermore, administrative discretion increases with the size of the municipality and the assessed capacity of the administration. Also in municipalities where the key actors of political-administrative relationships remained unchanged for a longer period, the administration has more leeway to act. Lastly, the results nuance the impact of the municipal financial situation and the composition of the majority on the degree of administrative discretion.


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