The main advantage of municipal government, particularly at the local level, is the ability of citizens to have direct access to the results produced by their elected representatives during their term of office. Even in large cities, despite their high building density and many districts, the evaluation of results can be very reliable. However, visibility of actions and assessment of the municipal government’s work is easier in rural areas with a small-scale urban fabric, such as Mani. If we accept that there are two major themes that constitute the main οbjectives of local government, i.e., a) quality of life and b) natural environment, then in the urban municipalities, due to the high density of population, the quality of life should be the first priority, while rural municipalities, due to their large territorial area, should prioritise the natural environment. The common rule, in order to achieve efficiency in both cases, is the obligation to apply the following basic economic rule: “maximising the return on the financial resources allocated at the lowest possible cost”.
At each level of operation of the elected bodies, and especially at the leadership levels, we need to examine the incentives that prompted elected officials to participate in the local government. It is certain that if the real cause of this impulse is the sincere desire to offer social work and provided, of course, that this desire is combined with competence acquired through studies and/or professional experience, the results will be visible and measurable, so that they can be recognised by any bona fide observer. Usually, however, human passions, such as the thirst for glory and money, are the main motives for participating in the local government. Although the pursuit of glory, in its pure form, is a legitimate ambition for humans, it often loses its purity under the strong pressure to materialise and it leads to uncontrollable actions. Becoming rich through compensation provided by a municipal government to its elected officials is impossible. Municipal politicians, however, can become rich through the many decision-making powers granted to them by the legislative framework and the lax internal control mechanisms for these decisions. It is perhaps no coincidence that in practice the decisions of local government bodies are not subject to effective social scrutiny by the public. Summarising the preceding thoughts, we conclude that only the existence of a conscious willingness for social contribution through municipal government institutions can provide positive results for the society. The reward for local politicians should not be personal enrichment, but rather the satisfaction of conscienciously performing one’s duties, which sometimes can also bring glory to some extent.
One way of measuring results in rural municipalities is by observing improvements in the physical environment (municipal roads and squares, rural roads, municipal buildings and monuments, harbours). Their maintenance is financed annually from the state budget and requires coordinated action, based on the principle of “maximising results at the lowest cost”, in order to implement the necessary projects in an efficient manner. A prerequisite for the completion of these works is the full use of human resources within the scope of their duties and, above all, the capability of the elected politicians to plan and coordinate all the necessary phases from preparation to completion.
Another way of measuring results in rural municipalities is by observing improvements in the areas related to quality of life (water supply, drainage, sewage, electricity, cleaniness of municipal spaces, solid household waste). Daily local government actions in these areas (particularly in those areas that are financed directly by the users of these services) are easily observable, and conclusions about the effectiveness of these services and the coordinative capacity of the elected politicians can be drawn easily. It should be noted that for the “quality of life” projects a significant amount of funding is required, and that the search for funding from the central government is the primary responsibility of the municipal authorities, both unilateral and collective.
We hope that in the upcoming municipal elections the voters will consider the thoughts developed in this editorial and choose those candidates who will be able to create maximum efficiency for the benefit of our society.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD