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Regions and regional centres in Hungary: The critical interdependence of public administration and regional development


  • György Csomós

    () (University of Debrecen Faculty of Engineering Debrecen Hungary)


In parallel with the change of the political-economic regime, the Hungarian system of public administration faced new challenges. Under state socialism, medium-level public administration was represented by the counties, which exercised strong control over the local governments of settlements in the hierarchic system of public administration. During the reforms of the public administration after the change of the political regime, the administrative roles of counties were withdrawn, and their functions were minimised upon the pressure of the settlements. Hungary came to witness a rather rare situation where in between the state and thousands of local governments no medium-level units of public administration with real powers existed. Nevertheless, the country’s accession to the European Union in 2004 brought about a change: it was necessary to create regions that were in line with the regional policy of the Community, but missing from the territorial structure of Hungary. As a result, on the medium level, in addition to counties and cities of county rank there emerged regions that were higher in the territorial hierarchy, but lacked local governments. Yet, the structural reform of public administration system did not stop at this point, because for years now the elevation of the county-based, deconcentrated bodies of public administration mediating governmental functions to the regional level has been in progress. It is clear for the larger cities of county rank that if the political and public administration is decentralised in Hungary, it will be an evident consequence to designate those cities that will serve as the seats of the regional governments, in practice the capitals of the regions. There is a sharp competition taking place for the possession of these regional functions, while the state is decreasing the number of potential actors via public administration and regional development. This study aims to answer which cities are suitable for acting as regional centres by the regional decentralisation of governmental functions and top-bottom regional planning.

Suggested Citation

  • György Csomós, 2012. "Regions and regional centres in Hungary: The critical interdependence of public administration and regional development," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 34(4), pages 599-618, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aka:soceco:v:34:y:2012:i:4:p:599-618

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    More about this item


    public administration; decentralization; NUTS; spatial planning; growth pole; Hungary;

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy


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