Decentralised models of decision making encourage greater citizen participation. The World Bank describes decentralisation and participation as having a ‘symbiotic relationship. On the one hand, successful decentralisation requires some degree of local participation. Subnational governments’ proximity to their constituents will only enable them to respond better to local needs and efficiently match public spending to private needs if some sort of information flow between citizens and the local governments exist. On the other hand, the process of decentralisation can itself enhance the opportunities for participation by placing more power and resources at a closer, more familiar, more easily influenced level of government. In environments with poor traditions of citizen participation, decentralisation can be an important first step in creating regular, predictable opportunities for citizen-state interaction’.
Jones and Stewart highlight seven advantages of local states and decision making abilities over central states (cited by Wallace, 2013):
· It releases local initiatives and innovations that are stifled by centralism
· Local choice can better match resources to local needs in a way not possible in the uniformities of centralism
· It focuses on local needs and problems in a way impossible for central choice
· Local choice involved people in the process of government, while central government remains remote
· Its ways of working can take account of local ideas based on local understanding in a way impossible with central prescription
· Local choice can enhance a sense of place, with local people determining the futures of their villages, towns and cities that should be welcomed by the centre
· It enables the learning that comes from the diversity of local choices, while little is learned from the sterility of central uniformity.