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Anarcho-Metropolitan Contradiction: Municipal Decentralization and Regional Centralism in Chile

Antonio Daher

In Chile, a strong state centralism coexists with a notable municipal decentralization. This contradiction implies that regions are governed by authorities designated by the national government, while municipal authorities are elected and have political and financial autonomy. This administrative contradiction results, in part, in non-existent regional governments -despite the recent election of regional councilors- since they are, strictly speaking, central government delegates, including regional ministerial secretaries (governors are not yet elected). Another expression of this contradiction is the municipal atomization, with communes that reproduce inequality and territorial segregation in their capacities and resources, with divided and weakened intermunicipal associations.

The conjunction of these two realities, centralism in larger administrative divisions, and atomized municipal decentralization in smaller areas, collapse in pluricomunal metropolitan areas, which are literally without government. Although centralism inhibits regional development, and municipal fragmentation reproduces inequality, the “anarcho-metropolitan contradiction” is the most serious consequence of both of these conditions. The lack of government results is inequality for the majority, and in inefficiency for the urban and national economy.

Despite the gravity and urgency of this “anarcho-metropolitan contradiction”, alternative solutions have been politically unviable. The possibility of an elected metropolitan government -with the risks that whoever presides over it turns into a powerful political competitor- counterbalanced by a council of intercommunal mayors seems to be a possible option to evaluate.

Key words: Metropolitan Government; Decentralization; Centralization; Economic Disparity; Case Analysis; Chile

 
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