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    Municipal amalgamations form a red thread through the history of local government in the Netherlands. With varying intensity, this country was continuously confronted with adjustments of the municipal scale. Where once the focus was rather one-sided on the minimum number of inhabitants of a municipality, we see that since the nineties questions were asked about the amalgamation policy. From now on a lack of administrative power had to be demonstrated before an amalgamation would be carried through. These critical remarks however didn’t lead to a downfall in the number of municipal amalgamations. Amalgamation and merger will always continue in the Netherlands. The Flemish policy on amalgamation appears to be quite different. Since the large-scale merger operation in 1976 Flanders was no more confronted with municipal amalgamations. The former Flemish government however, announced at its appointment in 2009 that it would encourage voluntary mergers of municipalities with financial and administrative incentives. The present Flemish government treads the same path. The incentives put in place by the former Flemish legislature are even increased. They even appear to bear fruit. In the provinces Limburg and East-Flanders several municipalities have indicated to investigate a merger. Some of them even have taken the principal decision to merger in the municipal councils involved. This article describes and compares the municipal amalgamation policies of the Netherlands and Flanders. The authors also investigate what both can learn from each other.


Prof. dr. Koenraad De Ceuninck
Prof. dr. K. De Ceuninck is politicoloog en hoogleraar bij het Centrum voor Lokale Politiek aan de Universiteit Gent.

Dr. Klaas Abma
Dr. K. Abma is programmamanager bij de gemeente Súdwest-Fryslân (Zuidwest-Friesland). In 2012 promoveerde hij aan de Open Universiteit bij Arno Korsten op een onderzoek naar het beoordelen van gemeenten.

Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de opleiding European Public Administration aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    Since 2001, the Dutch province of Overijssel has had its own knowledge centre focusing on urban society, called the ‘KennisInstituut Stedelijke Samenleving’ (KISS), alongside national knowledge centres. This essay gives an overview of some relevant KISS meetings devoted to a many kinds of citizen participation. The overview is based on reports made by the author himself. Examples of citizen participation are: the new styles of neighbourhood governance, citizen participation through neighbourhood budgets, the strength of the city and location-based leadership, innovative urban renewal and the promotion of citizen initiatives in the province of Overijssel. Examples are not only from the province of Overijssel (situated in the east of the Netherlands), but also from other parts of the Netherlands and other countries (Flanders, United Kingdom, United States and all over the world). The subject of citizen participation (in connection with urban renewal and administrative leadership) enjoys an ever-increasing popularity as is shown by the number of KISS meetings devoted to this subject.


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de opleiding European Public Administration aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.
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