A Seminar Game to Analyze Regional Governance Options for Portugal
Regionalization in Portugal was a major issue in 1998, as the nation held a referendum on whether to establish administrative regions to assume many tasks presently performed by the central government. The debate was both hot and confused, as both "pro" and "anti" forces claimed their solution would lead to more efficient government, and no major political party spoke with one voice. To help illuminate the debate, RAND Europe conducted in June 1998 a series of seminar games simulating the alternative decentralization schemes being contemplated. The results of the game showed that (1) the specific form of decentralization may be less important than the details of implementation (not present in the debate); (2) the critical issue of financial autonomy for local governing bodies had not been adequately addressed; (3) there was no consensus regarding which governmental competencies are the best for devolution to regions; and (4) whatever form of decentralization is chosen, close monitoring of different competencies and the flexibility to shift policies are essential.
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