Published 30 March 2023

Decentralised democratic systems

A decentralised system provides the institutional framework that allows national, regional and local governments to interact in an effective manner in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. This ensures that decisions are being made as close as possible to the citizens.

For a well-functioning system, it is important to have a coherent approach to decentralisation – fundamentally those functions correspond to finances and decision power.

Decentralisation includes:

  • Administrative; decentralisation of functions and competencies
  • Fiscal: the transfer of financial resources for fulfilling assigned duties
  • Political: decentralisation of political authority and decision competences.

A clear vision of multilevel governance systems with shared functions between different tiers according to the varioussub-functions is needed. Horizontal and municipal cooperation is also vital, for example in managing natural resources or infrastructure development.

Effective multilevel governance systems also enhance the outreach and anchoring of national development policies.

The space for self-determination can strengthen loyalty and integration of sub-national authorities which might help ease tensions and overcome conflicts related to power sharing and control over public resources.

According to country contexts, different degrees of decentralisation can be found. SALAR International carefully analyses the country context and existing dynamics. Projects draw on examples and tested methods from Swedish municipalities and regions but do not promote a particular "model" of decentralisation, nor the Swedish system.


  • Advancing functional decentralisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) two Associations of Municipalities and Cities (AMCs) play a central role in the country’s complex political environment. In this collaboration project, SALAR supports the two associations to have a positive impact by strengthening them to implement core mandates and strategic plans in a sustainable and effective way.
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Integrated Governance and Inclusive Education- Duhok

    SALAR International has implemented the Intergrated Governance and Inclusive Education project in Duhok to build inclusive systems at all levels of society to provide proper schools and learning conditions for all children.
  • Promoting democracy, decentralisation and local governance in Tunisia

    Tunisia is not ranking as high as it would like in the human development index. The Tunisia Local Governance Project (TLGP) is in place to improve conditions by helping Tunisian local governments perform better in terms of accountability, efficiency and services responding to citizens’ needs.
  • Preparing Serbian local governments for the EU

    The project “Sustainable and inclusive service delivery at local level” helps preparing Serbian local authorities to adjust to EU standards and regulations by improving conditions for services delivery by enabling local dialogue and improving public administration.
  • Support to local governance in Türkiye and Lebanon hosting Syrian refugees

    Around 6.6 million Syrians have sought refuge abroad. The global pandemic and financial crisis have created enhanced competition for jobs between host and refugee communities and increased anti-refugee sentiments. SALAR International supports local governments in Türkiye and Lebanon to become resilient in the reception of refugees from Syria.
    Lebanon, Türkiye
  • PROSTO Support to Services Accessibility in Ukraine

    The project focuses on supporting municipalities (hromadas) in the establishment and modernization of Administrative Service Centers (ACSs) to improve citizens’ access to services on local level. The project is implemented between July 2021 and January 2024, and builds on SALARs experiences working with U-LEAD with Europe.
  • Strengthening local governance and service delivery in Iraq

    In 2011 SALAR International partnered with central and local authorities to help develop local governance (LOGDEVI) in Iraq. LOGDEVI was implemented in the Kurdistan region on inclusive education and child protection, and in the south of Iraq within decentralisation reform.
  • Strengthening decentralization and local self-governance in Colombia - FOINCIDE II

    The local level government in Colombia is weak, and there is often miscommunication and distrust between the local and national level. The FOINCIDE-project is designed to support the decentralization process and strengthen local governments in Colombia.
  • Strengthening local democracy in Ukraine - The Decentralization Support Project II (DSPII)

    Since the Maydan revolution in 2014, SALAR International has been supporting Ukraine with two projects - Prosto and DSP II. DSP II is focused on assisting national ministries and local governments, to implement the decentralisation reform.
  • Pilots for efficient and sustainable municipal development in Cuba

    Cuba is going through comprehensive social and economic reforms, which SALAR is supporting by developing best practices for local government management and service delivery, through pilot projects in two provinces.
  • Support to decentralisation and local self-government reforms in Armenia

    Armenia has inherited a culture of centralised political system, but with signing the European Charter of Local Self-Government the country has began a transformational process to develop and support the political, administrative and financial independence of local authorities. The SALAR Project aims to support the Armenian government with decentralisation reforms and strengthening of local self-governments.
  • Accountable, effective local governance as pathway for inclusive service access

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing a multitude of humanitarian and social challenges largely due to a centralised governance system­­­­. Building good local governance where citizens can access services and influence decisions affecting them, is one critical foundation for addressing those challenges.
    Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)