The institutions of ‘strong’ local political leadership in Spain
In this paper I examine local political leadership in Spain. Spanish mayors are examples of ‘strong mayors’—that is, they have considerable executive authority and discretion in municipal affairs. Yet little detailed research exists on the formal and informal institutional bases of their position. I fill this gap by presenting empirical research on two Spanish municipalities. Using a new institutionalist theoretical perspective, I examine the rules around the appointment and removal of the mayor, the composition of the cabinet, the role of the full council, and the conventions around the role of the mayor in the municipality. Legal powers, a culture of individualised leadership, and councillor representation based on support for the party are all important for maintaining the mayor’s position. Some formal rules around the mayor in the case-study municipalities are ‘latent’—that is, they exist but are not used.
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