Do Multi-Party Municipal Councils Improve Local Governance? Municipal Councillors’ Opinions in El Salvador

Year of Publication
Abby Córdova
Annabella España-Nájera
Organization Name
German Institute of Global and Area Studies
Academic articles
El Salvador
Local Governance
elite survey
local political institutions
gobernanza local
encuesta de élites
instituciones políticas locales
As decentralisation reforms devolved greater responsibilities to local governments, improving
local governance has become central to strengthening democracy. With the
promise of increasing citizen representation and government transparency at the local
level, in 2015 El Salvador implemented a new electoral system. The new system allowed
for the election of opposition parties in municipal councils for the first time. In the
context of El Salvador, we examine how opposition parties’ numerical representation
influences the views of governing and opposition party members about multi-party
councils’ effectiveness to improve local governance. To test our hypotheses, we rely
on data from an original elite survey of 303 municipal councillors in 101 municipalities,
which we complement with qualitative information. Contrary to what the literature
suggests, we do not find evidence that a stronger opposition leads to more negative
evaluations among members of governing parties, notwithstanding the country’s polarised
party system.
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