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Local Government Institutionalization in Hungary

Gábor Soós

Why are local political organizations enduring in certain municipalities and ephemeral in others? This book explores the systematic factors that influence the level of Local Party Institutionalization (LPI). The analysis of LPI in Hungary, a new democracy, shows that LPI there mainly depends on the electoral system, the functional size, stability and average age of the population. The local chapters of national parties, especially those of parliamentary parties, appear to be more durable than the civic organizations acting as local parties.
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Chapter 3: Methods and Indicators

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The aim of this chapter is to identify the variables that can be included in the empirical investigation and to operationalize both the dependent and explanatory variables. The first section provides a short overview of the local government system in Hungary. Next, the two main indicators of local party institutionalization are discussed. The second half of the chapter focuses on the independent variables. The variables that conform to the requirements of the multivariate and causal analyses are specified, and, thus, the list of hypotheses that are to be tested is finalized. Finally, the independent variables are operationalized and characterized.

The present system of Hungarian local government was established in two subsequent waves of qualified majority legislation in 1990 and 1994. Act No. LXV of 1990 and Act No. LXIII of 1994 recognized the rights of municipalities to self-government and transformed the system of public administration from the centrally directed local councils of the Communist times to autonomous, democratically elected municipal self-governments. The new system followed the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Council of Europe and the historical traditions of Hungarian public administration.

Within the framework of local governments, consecutive pieces of legislation established a two-tiered system – based on historical traditions – where municipalities (villages, towns/cities) represent the basic unit of the system, while counties form the middle tier. There is no hierarchy between these two levels, as they have different responsibilities. Certain cities have county rights and act both as municipalities and...

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