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A new research article by Ilona Kovács Pálné is published in Frontiers in Political Science


ORIGINAL RESEARCH article

Front. Polit. Sci., 13 September 2021

Politics Without Meso-Level? No Politics at the Meso?

Ilona Pálné Kovács
 

The paper examines the role of meso-level governance in the Hungarian political system focusing on the county self-governments. The objective of the author is to introduce the consequences of the lack of meso-level politics for the backslide of the democratic system. The paper focusing on Hungarian counties seeks to explore the three-decade-long process leading to the progressive elimination of these bodies from the public power arena. The Hungarian case demonstrates how the overall administrative and political centralisation process has contributed to the hollowing-out of meso-level political actors. The Hungarian case study underlines the complex interrelations between the macro-political system, and the territorial political governmental arenas from the aspect of the centre and periphery power relations. Many European regional governments are not only platforms for territorial interest representation but also a counterweight to the central level contributing to the quality and stability of democratic governance. The study reviewing the situation of Hungarian counties draws on the author’s previous empirical research experiences and is a part of the ongoing research on governance issues of peripheral areas1. The results of the analyses discuss the implications of the hollowing-out of county governments on the electoral and party system, the modification of the institutional channels of interest representation. The Hungarian example appears to corroborate the analogy with the theory of second order elections. The theory of second order elections recognized the impact on the turnout and electoral preferences based on the changing role of different governance levels, by the same token, it seems that the weakening power position of the meso contributes to the decline of political competition and publicity by minimizing the interest of the public in general. The objective of the present study is to enrich the assessment of the relationship between territorial governance and democracy with some analytical options by demonstrating the implications of the “second order nature” of the meso.

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