Decentralization, Democratic Governance, and Civil Society in Comparative Perspective studies the relation of decentralization to democratization at both intermediate and local levels and analyzes how decentralization is transforming the relationship between the state and civil society. This book presents case studies from six countries in three continents in which decentralization of some parts of government has been attempted: Mexico, Chile, South Africa, Kenya, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The work surveys a range of issues in decentralization: which actors in each country have been most responsible for initiating and sustaining decentralization; how much decentralization to regional and local authorities has transformed the state; and whether stronger local governments produce greater accountability to citizens. The final chapter by Tulchin and Selee draws conclusions on these issues based on the case studies, while the introduction by Philip Oxhorn lays a theoretical foundation for understanding the relationship between decentralization and democracy.

Philip Oxhorn is a professor of political science and associate dean at McGill University. Joseph S. Tulchin is director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Andrew D. Selee is director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center.


Joseph S. Tulchin and Andrew D. Selee

1. Unraveling the Puzzle of Decentralization
Philip Oxhorn

Part I. Latin America
2. Twenty Years of Decentralization in Mexico: A Top-Down Process
Yemile Mizrahi
3. Decentralization and Civil Society in Mexico
Leticia Santín del Rio
4. State Decentralization and Regional Actors in Chile
Claudia Serrano
5. Local Governance and Democratization: The View from the Chilean Border
María Elena Ducci

Part II. Africa
6. South Africa’s Double Reform: Decentralization and The Transition from Apartheid
Steven Friedman and Caroline Kihato
7. Kenya’s Decentralization through the Devolution of Power: Advances and Limits
Gilbert M. Kahdiagala and Winnie V. Mitullah

Part III. Asia
8. The Philippines: Decentralization, Local Governments, and Citizen Action
Leonora C. Angeles and Francisco A. Magno
9. Decentralization and Regional Autonomy in Indonesia
Syarif Hidayat and Hans Antlöv

10. Decentralization and Democratic Governance: Lessons and Challenges
Andrew D. Selee and Joseph S. Tulchin

Selected Bibliographies: General and Regional 


“This is a first-rate book. It consists of well-researched and well-written case studies that contain plenty of useful new information. The comparative sections of the text are quite solid and enlightening.”—James Manor, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

“This volume examines the effects of decentralization on citizen-state relationships in the developing world.”—Choice

“It deserves to be read and pondered.”—Garth N. Jones, Journal of Third World Studies

“Provides important insights… will be of much interest to South Asian policy-makers and academics in the area of public administration.”—Abdullah Al Faruque, South Asia Research