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Who Owns the Local Policy Agenda? A Study about the Effect of Supralocal Institutions on the Local Policy Process

Oliver D. Meza

Local governments have increased the number of policy domains in which they are willing to work. Most of the explanations to the changes on the local agenda have been justified by elements postulated at a local level. Few studies recognize the multilevel nature that shapes local policy agendas through institutional mechanisms exerted by supra-local entities. This paper explores the nature of federalism as a type of regime that is conducive for a multilevel governance. It is characterized by the struggle and competition between government levels that pushes forward policy items into the local governments’ policy agendas extending its original scope far beyond the boundaries established by the constitution. The present investigation seeks to explain how local policy agendas are shape. The main argument is that local policy agendas are subjects to various institutional mechanisms from the higher levels of government, federal and state governments, and therefore local policy agendas are not only dependent on local aspects and local actors. To provide an empirical test, this work uses a fixed effects econometric model. The obtained results partially support the hypothesis. The research concludes that legal frames, financial transfers and political parties are effective supra-local level institutions that in a way, shape the local policy agendas. Finally, the article displays the complexity of policymaking process in a multilevel governance framework, exposing the conflict and competition between the different levels of government.

Key words: Local Government; Policies Formulation; Local Policy; Federalism; Mexico

 
 
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