Political leaders and the local constitution

David Karlsson, Malgorzata Erikson


The relation between institutions and political leadership has been the central theme of the research project “Local political leadership in a time of constitutional transition” at the School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg. The project, which started in 2006 was funded by the Swedish Research Council and led by Professor Henry Bäck. Results from the project have contributed with new knowledge in the field of local political leadership in a number of aspects. For example, the project has shown how formal positions affects the priorities of local political leaders (David Karlsson & Erikson, 2009), how de-sectoralisation (Karlsson, Rommel, & Svensson, 2009) and parliamentary situations (Gilljam & Karlsson, 2012) affect Swedish local democracy, how informal institutions influence the role perceptions of local leaders (Karlsson, 2012) and how representation principles have changed over time in Swedish local government without any formal constitutional reforms (Gilljam, Karlsson, & Sundell, 2010; Skoog, 2011). It has also been shown how the degree of political discretion varies between sectors and over time in Swedish local government (Bengtsson & Karlsson, 2012). Under the duration of the project, Swedish regional reform has been on top of the political agenda in Sweden – even though few reforms have yet been implemented. Democratic aspects of regional reform and the neglected perspective of political geography have been studied within the project (Gustafsson & Karlsson, 2010; Karlsson, 2010; Karlsson & Norén Bretzer, 2012).

This special issue of Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration marks the end of this project. Each of the three included articles represents essential aspects of how political institutions affect local political leadership. The first article has been written within the project, while the two others are written by internationally renowned local government scholars and provide comparative perspectives on the importance of institutions for political leadership.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413