Decentralization, Local Governance, and Inequality in the Middle East and North Africa

Subjects: Political Science, Governance, Middle and Near Eastern Studies
Open Access : 9780472904754, 352 pages, 27 figures, 23 tables, 6 x 9, January 2025
Paperback : 9780472057139, 352 pages, 27 figures, 23 tables, 6 x 9, January 2025
Hardcover : 9780472077137, 352 pages, 27 figures, 23 tables, 6 x 9, January 2025
See expanded detail +

Examines how decentralization affects local communities

Table of contents


Decentralization and Local Governance: Lessons from the MENA by Ellen Lust and Kristen Kao

Decentralization: Design and Implementation

  1. Municipal Boundaries and the Politics of Space by Intissar Kherigi
  2. Continuities and Ruptures in Local Governance in Daraa, Syria by Marika Sosnowski


  1. Citizen Petitions to Moroccan Municipalities: A Case of Unequal Inclusion by Francesco Colin and Sylvia I. Bergh
  2. Local Elections and Service Provision Under Lebanon’s Postwar Party Cartel by Christiana Parreira
  3. How Gender and Local State Capacity Shape Citizens’ Use of the Mosque by Steven Brooke and Monica C. Komer
  4. Success Beyond Gender Quotas: Gender, Local Politics, and Clientelism in Morocco by Marwa Shalaby and Carolyn Barnett
  5. Local Political Priorities during Tunisia’s First Democratic Municipal Elections by Alexandra Domike Blackman, Julia Clark, and Aytug Sasmaz
  6. Beards, Mustaches, and Power: The Traits of Male Leadership in Morocco by Matt Buehler and Freddy Gergis

Decentralization in the Middle East and North Africa: Findings and Implications by Ellen Lust and Kristen Kao
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Author Bios


While many scholars, policymakers, and development practitioners view decentralization as a way to increase participation, strengthen political representation, and improve social welfare, little is known about the experiences of communities in the context of decentralization – particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. This volume directs our attention toward the ways in which decentralization is “lived locally” by citizens of the MENA region, underscoring the simultaneous influences of individual-level factors (e.g., gender, education) and local context (e.g., development levels, electoral institutions) on governance processes and outcomes. 

A group of international scholars brings together methodologically diverse, original research in Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia to expand the literature on decentralization. Following a preface by Moulay Hicham, the empirical chapters are arranged into three thematic sections focused on subnational variations in the relationships between central and local actors, citizen engagement with state and non-state institutions, and the extent to which representatives reflect their local communities. Together, these chapters provide important insights into governance, participation, and representation in the MENA and open new questions for furthering the study of governance and local development. Only by unpacking perspectives and governance experiences at the micro-level can we understand how decentralization policies affect citizens’ everyday lives.

Ellen M. Lust is Founder and Director of the Governance and Local Development Institute and Professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg.
Kristen Kao is a Docent (Associate Professor) at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg.

“With its bottom-up inspired approach to understand local state-society relations and how this affects patterns of participation, engagement and representation, this volume helps create a better understanding of local governance and development. This is a first-rate piece on decentralization in the Middle East with substantial findings for avenues of future research.”

- Thomas Demmelhuber, Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nu¨rnberg

“This volume will be of significant interest to scholars interested in decentralization and local governance, political party functioning and party systems at the local level, and political representation and participation, as well as the politics of the MENA region.”

- Gina Lambright, American University