Sources of Institutional Integrity and Contradictions of County Governance: Analyzing the Estonian Experience

Georg SOOTLA, Liia LAANES

Abstract


The article focuses on the analysis of internal dynamics and controversies of patterns of county-level governance. Seven alternating confi gurations of county governance in Estonia are taken as an empirical case. We also intend to develop further a conceptual framework for analysis of county governance, drawing on the experience of developing county governance in Europe in the last decades. We reveal that dual and fused patterns of county governance have rather different roles in balancing intergovernmental relations. Hence, when combining dual pattern with elements of fused pattern, it should be done very carefully in order to avoid deep tensions in the intergovernmental system. This was ignored in Estonia where, in the 1920s and the beginning of the 1990s, a strong political mandate of county governor and its role as representative of the state were combined. In the 1930s the crisis of county governance was solved with a perfectly balanced fused pattern, established by an authoritarian regime. In the 2000s, Estonia faced a political as well as a structural deadlock in the development of the intergovernmental system because of the deconstruction of county governance. As a result, the crisis in one link would require a complete reorganization of central- local relations in Estonia in the second half of the 2010s.


Keywords


county governance, county governor, prefect, fused pattern, dual and split hierarchy, patterns of intergovernmental relations

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