The Last Mile: When Policies Go Local
The study of local politics and policies in such a diverse country as Italy can be both remarkable and hopeless. On the one hand, going local to study politics allows us to discover how political preferences vary in proximate contexts and how elected representatives distribute power across levels of government, placing emphasis on centre-periphery relations (Page and Goldsmith 1987). On the other, going local to study policies allows us to consider what public agencies do when they apply seemingly self-executory policy measures at the decentralized level, showing the importance of implementation (Pressman and Wildavsky 1973). Ultimately, going local is a good way to discover how politics and policies are intertwined, by investigating the relationship between performance and perceived legitimacy (Dente 1985; 1997; Capano and Lippi 2018), especially when the political system is geared towards a majoritarian logic that allows clear alternation in power after the polls – such as after the so-called direct election of a mayor in Italy (Bobbio 2005a).