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    Politicians and scientists in the Netherlands often claim that only municipalities with over 100,000 inhabitants (so called ‘100,000+ municipalities’) have enough administrative power to be able to carry out their tasks in the future well. This is also the case for the responsibilities that recently have handed over to the Dutch municipalities as part of the three decentralizations. Against the background of this debate, the authors of this essay argue that the experiences of the four European microstates – Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino –may offer an interesting frame of reference where it concerns the delivery of public services. These four countries have all the responsibilities and tasks of a sovereign state, but at the same time three of the four countries have a population of fewer than 40,000 inhabitants. Also, the fourth country is smaller than a 100,000+ municipality. Despite the small size of these states, their public services are of an exceptionally high level. Therefore this essay tries to answer two questions: How is this possible? What can we learn from the experiences of these microstates about the debate on scale and administrative power in the Netherlands?


Dr. ir. Pepijn van Houwelingen
Dr. ir. P. van Houwelingen is onderzoeker bij het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

Dr. Wouter Veenendaal
Dr. W.P. Veenendaal is onderzoeker bij het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde.
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