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A Global Perspective on Localism

Published by The New Zealand Initiative (Wellington), 2 October 2013 (PDF)

By international standards, New Zealand has one of the world’s most centralised forms of government. In other OECD economies, local government runs health and police services, accounts for the majority of public investment, and typically controls a third of public spending. In New Zealand, by contrast, local government has traditionally been small and weak in comparison with central government.

But is this really the best way to govern New Zealand? Around the world, a new localism is taking hold. Subsidiarity, localised decision‐making and devolved powers are the latest trends in good governance.

This essay explores the idea of localism in a historical, philosophical and global context.

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