This chapter seeks to better understand how austerity governance has been experienced in the eight cities, from the perspective of the local state. As earlier chapters demonstrate, austerity governance is a real challenge for cities and local states, which can often have competing priorities and imperatives. This is because traditionally, local managers and elected politicians are more inclined than those of the upper tiers of the state to listen to and be responsive to the residents of their local constituencies, because they are closer to them. Consequently, the principles and rules in municipalities for managing public budgets are usually more responsive to social demands. However, if the democratic local state is a political unit, with at least some autonomy to enact its values and citizen preferences, it is also subject to a range of structural and contextual constraints. These include cultures and practices of neoliberal marketization and the level of resources available through transfers and taxation. In that respect, local state managers and elected representatives are caught in a difficult situation. On the one hand, they seek to respond to the needs and priorities of their constituents while, on the other, they operate within the constraints set by national priorities of neoliberal marketization and cuts to resources. This leaves them looking two ways, trying to overcome continuous contradictions, conflicts and uncertainties that arise from this difficult positioning.
In addition to these immediate and contradictory demands on local officials, questions of local state power are strongly connected with urban culture.
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