Special Correspondent

"For its success, all stakeholders have to respect a common minimum programme"

German municipalities can regulate local affairs and enjoy autonomy for building self-competency At the municipal level there is no clear distinction between Government and OppositionCitizens' participation ensured at all levels of city planning and is not limited to electing local body

CHENNAI: The pros and cons of institutionalising coalition models of governance at the local level to aid local bodies in generating competencies of their own came in for critical scrutiny at a seminar on 'Coalition Pattern on City and Regional Levels: Trends in India and Germany' here on Friday.

It was organised by the Satyamurti Centre for Democratic Studies, the Madras Management Association and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

German Constitution

Under the German Constitution, municipalities are guaranteed the right to regulate local affairs, in addition to autonomy for building self-competency, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart Wolfgang Schuster said.

Regulations by local bodies encompassed components such as personnel, organisation, finance and taxation and typical tasks of municipalities including roads, traffic, education, power, housing, city planning, economic development, health, waste management and welfare.

Coalition models existed only at national and state levels. At the municipal level there was no clear distinction between the Government and the Opposition. Citizens' participation was ensured at all levels of city planning and not limited to electing the local body, Dr. Schuster said.

At the level of regional politics, the tasks included planning and infrastructure and this involved no political coalitions, except in the election of the chairman, Dirk Gaerte, elected district commissioner, Sigmaringen, Germany, said.

Ever since it was founded in 1952, the German State of Baden Wurttemberg saw only coalition governments for 34 years. The only exception was the State of Bavaria, which had no such governance pattern for more than 40 years, he said.

For the success of a coalition government, all stakeholders had to respect a common minimum programme and even regional parties should adopt a national perspective when they partner a coalition government, Ramesh Chennithala, Member of Parliament and Kerala State Congress president, said.

The success of a coalition partnership depended on the extent to which the leadership was able to sort out issues through mutual discussions.

Local government models in India would not be amenable to coalition models of government unless the municipalities were provided with exclusive local domain by law, R.S. Bharathi, chairman, Alandur Municipal Council, said.

Such a move would not be meaningful unless the executive wing was made directly accountable to the policy-making body at the local level.

Jeorg Wolff, resident representative to India, Konrad Adenauer Foundation; N.L. Rajah, senior advocate, Madras High Court and S. Lakshmanan, executive director, Madras Management Association, participated.