For the Modernization of the Greek Public Administration and the Local Government
Program for the reform of the primary level local government















The political framework of the program consists of the official declarations of the Government and the relevant declarations of the Prime Minister (compulsory merging of small local authorities).

Between December 1996 and February 1997, the Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization has prepared a detailed and complete project concerning the Program for the merging of the local authorities in Greece, which reflects the general political framework for the regeneration of the primary level of local government.

This program which bears the symbolic title "IOANNIS KAPODISTRIAS" was debated and approved at the Cabinet's session on Wednesday, 26.2.97.

It is the governments belief that this is a fundamental reform, which is part and parcel of the overall plan for the reconstruction of the State. A number of other modifications are in progress, in order to achieve the aimed task of reforming Public Administration (organizing the Regions, new responsibilities for the primary level Local Government, enforcing the Prefectural Self-government etc.).

A nation-wide debate of a scale rarely seen, took place throughout the country between March and September 1997 with all the interested institutions and social groups, even though the primary level local government played the dominant role.

The basic objective and the expectation of everyone is that this large reform, which has been a demand of the representatives of Local Government for years, achieve the widest possible political and social consensus.


Typology of the Primary Level Local Authorities
The organizational scheme of the primary level local authorities, which was introduced by Act. DNZ/1912, established the twofold typology of the local authorities on the basis of the distinction between rural and urban communities. Nevertheless, the distrust against the municipal institution led to the identification of the urban entities by, primarily, strictly geographical and, secondly, land planning criteria. Those entities received the relevant administrative form, as municipalities.

The following institutional regime of 1934 had classified the municipalities into three tiers, according to their population. In each class corresponded a different number of municipal deputies, and there has been a differentiation as to the method of appointing the Mayor. In short, the population- criterion was connected to differences in the composition of the municipal organs (instruments). The phenomenon of establishing primary level local authorities of different types, can be found in various European countries, with the most characteristic example being that of Germany. On the other hand, in a number of countries, there is a unified type of primary level local authorities, regardless of their population or their rural structure. This situation has usually received negative comments by experts.

In Greece one can notice the following inconsistency: whereas the primary differentiation between the municipality and the parish has been based on population and land-planning criteria, a fact which constitutes a positive characteristic of the Greek system, in the process, the parish remained unchanged, stuck on the patterns of 1912 ; at the same time the municipality was conceived as a concept superior to the parish. In this sense, the parishes pursued their development into municipalities, thus changing the primary substance of the difference itself. At the same time, it is noticeable that the institution of municipalities is introduced, with a unified institutional framework on the one hand, but basic population variances and land planning differences on the other.

In order to achieve a more rational administrative organization and to adjust the institutional framework to recent experience and the administrative and developmental requirements of modern Greek society, one may suggest the specialization of the specific types of primary level local authorities.

Naturally, with regard to the choice of a term, "Municipality" is suggested due to historical and normative reasons. Nevertheless, the municipalities should be classified into specific types, so that each one of them would reflect special characteristics, concerning their administrative system and their responsibilities. Furthermore, it is useful to mention that the qualifier of each type of municipality should not be reflected in the legal framework. Their division is only of an operational character and it does not constitute an ethical or organizational division of the local authorities.

Municipality - Unity of villages
Its main characteristic is the unity of rural settlements. It will constitute the main «product» of the mergers. The basic feature is the developmental function of the municipal authority and the internal decentralization on the basis of ex - parishes via the local councils, even on the seat of the new local authority ; an electoral system which permits, as much as possible, the representation of all the ex- parishes at the Town Council. Specific regulations regarding competences, with reference to the mountainous or border regions.

Municipality - Semi-rural settlement
Its main characteristic is the existence of a semi-rural settlement with population of 2500 - 5000 inhabitants or more. With this settlement merge neighboring local authorities, as long as they are under its direct influence. There is a system of representation of smaller parishes too in the Town Council.

Urban Municipality
The classic type of contemporary urban municipality ; the neighboring «parishes-satellites» are being attached ; local councils at the attached parishes.

Municipality - Island
Apart from the big islands, which constitute, in some cases, prefectural local governments, or the ones which have wide territory and population, the objective is the merging of all local authorities of the remaining small islands in order for each one of them to be organized as a Municipality. As far as the administrative system is concerned, what has been mentioned above about the corresponding types, is exceptionally valid in this context.

Municipality - Urban-planning group (complex)
It concerns the large municipalities (apart from the two metropolitan areas).
In these cases, the institution of forms of collaboration for the management of wider functions of the area should be examined, after the completion of the organization and the election of the new municipal authorities.

Municipalities - Sections of Metropolitan Areas
It concerns the local authorities of the metropolitan areas of Athens and Thessaloniki, where the role and the territorial reconstruction must be redefined in the context of the system of metropolitan administration (this is the reason why the proposed program does not concern Athens and the urban-planning groups of Thessaloniki and of Volos - N. Ionia).

According to the typology of the local authorities which will result after the application of the proposed policy, one should examine the assignment of more responsibilities to certain categories of local authorities, according to their particular characteristics. Special attention should be given to the new local authorities, which correspond to the total size of an island and the local authorities of mountainous and border regions


The present situation is characterized by the fragmentation of the primary level local authorities into 5.318 parishes and around 200 small municipalities, resulting in :

a) Incapability of the local authorities to fulfill their mission, as described in the Constitution and the subsequent legislation, and especially :
  • their political role (insufficient political representation of the small villages)
  • their administrative role (incapability to provide services of quality to the citizens)
  • their developmental role (restricted participation to the procedures of local and regional development)
b) Fragmentation and therefore unprofitable development of the financial and human resources.


Successive governments have tried since 1981 to confront the problem of fragmentation.
  • By the non-specified and voluntary mergers and the developmental unions of Act 1416/84
  • By the specified but voluntary mergers of Act 1622/86
  • By the Regional Councils of Act 2218/94
These attempts at reform followed a positive direction but had unsatisfactory results, because:

1) The implementation of the reform (cooperation and merging) was granted to the local authorities themselves, whereas it is - de facto and de jure - the responsibility of the State itself (state matter).
2) The institutional regulations were not complemented by a middle term complete program and the necessary political means of support for the new institutions.


The suggested program for the reform of the primary level local government includes:

A. New legal framework until September 1997
B. Land-planning of the boundaries of the new local authorities (in cooperation with the Local Unions of Parishes and Municipalities and the Regional Authorities) until October 1997
C. Elections in the new Local Authorities which will be formed through the compulsory merging, in October 1998
D. Subsidiary programs and political measures in support of the reform, for the period 1997 - 2001.

The land planning and developmental model of the new Municipalities.

The definition of the scale or the size of the new municipalities which will result from the Merging, determines automatically the type of the infrastructure they have to create in order to support their viability and their internal development.

In order to understand better the needs in technological and social infrastructure, it is necessary to take into consideration certain factors, the most basic of which is the population. On this basis one can determine the various socio-economical and administrative infrastructures with qualitative and quantitative criteria. As for the technical infrastructures important factors apart from the population are the geographical and territorial structure of the area of the new municipality - that is, its territorial limits, the morphology of the territory, the existence of natural resources, the location in connection to the large urban centers and the big transportation axes of the country, the border lands, as well as the proximity to the sea etc.

On the basis of this principle, and by an appropriate abstraction, one can create an ideal human - geographical and developmental entity as the model of the new municipality, which should naturally adjust to each specific application in reality. Therefore, one can create certain types of municipalities, according to the differentiation of the parameters and the above mentioned factors. One first typology, on the basis of which the various infrastructures may be defined, distinguishes the municipalities into "urban", "semi - urban" and "rural", in the sense that all of them are located within the boundaries of the provincial area and they do not concern the country´s big urban centers and complexes.

The distinction between them is not necessarily quantitative (i.e. the size of the population), although certainly the population size coexists in reality with the qualitative differences which can be observed, due to their location and the extent of their development.

In any case (whether a central community exists or not) there is a problem in the sharing of the infrastructures and the social equipment of each new municipality, which demands great attention in the way it is managed. Finally, the issue of cost-allocation of these infrastructures can, at the beginning, be approached in a general manner, in order to offer an overall picture of the extent of the program in the whole country. Subsequently, a detailed calculation can be attempted after the new self-governed entities are defined.


Aims of the suggested program are:
  • The provision of services of equal sufficiency and quality to the citizens of the cities and the villages, and, therefore, the modernization of our administrative system
  • The promotion of the role of the Local Authorities and of their elected representatives, therefore the modernization of the local political system in the country, and the broadening of the political meaning of the primary level local government
  • The establishment of basic requirements for the administrative and financial independence of local authorities
  • The coordination of local public investment for the public works of technical infrastructure and social equipment
  • The strengthening of the internal resources of the Greek region which is a necessary precondition for continuous sustainable regional and local development.
  • The transparency in management of financial resources and the control by the citizens of local authority and power, leading to guarantees of legitimacy and the protection of their interests.
  • Scale economies in the operating cost and the development of human resources.

Basic principles, on which the program is based, are:
  • The combination of the principles of democracy and efficiency (large local communities with broad internal decentralization)
  • The coordinated application of legal remedies and developmental measures
  • The developmental intra-community balance (establishment of internal decentralization of public investments)
  • Obtaining the widest possible political and social consensus
In conclusion, through the program, we are trying to achieve "Administrative and Programmatic Unification with Social Consensu"

General principles for the land planning of the new local authorities

The territorial delimitation of the new local authorities should be accomplished on the basis of land planning units, taking into account the size of the population, which identifies almost all the basic operational services. The basic element in this context is not so much the specific limits, but primarily the desired scale or size of the new local authorities, which can never be perfect. The desired scale defines in its turn the overall number of the local authorities in the national territory, so finally the delimitation is completed.

A first observation to be taken into consideration is that it would not be advisable to start the delimitation of the new entities from scratch, since a certain number of types exist already ( Open Cities, Regional Councils, Developmental Unions, Geographic Regions). Such an action would produce among others a lot of objections by the inhabitants and the agents of the local government. On the contrary, this delimitation should be based on one of the above mentioned types, and create accordingly, with the least possible adjustments, the final entities.

Specifically, the selection of the type of the unity, which will be used as a starting point or as the basis, will depend on the selection of the desired size of the new local authority.

The existing data offer a starting point so as to identify the aim. A first processing is necessary in order to establish the existence of a stable and continuous preference in a certain geographic unity, that is to say of a common ground, if one such exists. This is an conceptual responsibility to be exercised by the Central Government. From that point onwards there will be a series of other procedures with, as main feature, the participation of local agents.

It is evident that two of the existing divisions are more conducive to promoting the goal of the reform. The Regional Councils have indeed a very broad region under their supervision, whereas at the same time they constitute today active units for cooperation and they can therefore, be substituted by the new municipality. This will be left to the discretion of local government institutions, and all the persons who will be called on a local level to express their views, to select the widest possible regional entity : that is for the Local Councils of Municipalities and Parishes (LUMP) to judge. If they decide, with full grounding, that the geographical areas of the Regional Councils do not fulfill the requirements for the establishment of the local authority, they have to justify a new proposal. This proposal can have as a basis the geographical entities of Act 1622/86, but should not lead to the fragmentation of units which, from the point of view of their geographic capacity, constitute the minimum needed (therefore their fragmentation is not advisable). The proposals for re-delimitation of the geographical entities (regions) of Act. 1622/86, should fulfill certain specifications:

a) They should not divide the geographical region by limiting its population and expected economic resources
b) They should not result to a merging of only two local authorities. More particularly, the existing geographical entities (regions) of Act. 1622/86 which are constituted by only two local authorities, should be incorporated into broader units.
c) They should try to achieve the highest possible level of merging, with reference to the population of the region.
d) They should achieve the merging with a territorial position that is as homogenous as possible, i.e. mountainous regions, coastal regions etc.


The suggested Program is innovative because:
  • We are not trying to achieve the unification of the local authorities only by law and administrative procedures, but through a complete program, which includes : the necessary legal measures, the financing of local public investments and of a minimum operating cost, the staffing by fully trained personnel, creation of a specific mechanism to monitor the enforcement of the Program etc.
  • The Program provides for long term commitment of the State since it concerns a 5 years period (97 - 98: preparatory period, 99-01: period of supporting the new institution).
  • The suggested reform is, in principle, obligatory (compulsory merge), but with "soft" elements in its application process (maintenance of the name of the ex-parishes, with local institutions- the Local Councils- which will obtain basic responsibilities, strengthening of the representation of the ex-parishes with more than 300 citizens in the Town Council, maintenance of the present rights of the citizens, etc.)
  • The success of the program is not only the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, but it also calls for the support of the Ministries involved in the planning of development policy, to cooperate in its specialization and application. Therefore it is a Program that concerns the whole Government.

We believe that the number of the new Local authorities will be equal to, or larger than, the number of the Regional Councils (492), but smaller than the number of the geographic entities established by Act 1622/86 (namely 1116) (they maintain as parishes, certain «inactive» parishes and the small villages)


  • Every new municipality will have the following authorities:
1) The Mayor, the Town Council, the Municipal Committee.
2) Five-Member Local Councils with a President, in each ex-Local Authority with more than 500 inhabitants, to be represented at the Town Council.
3) Three-Member Local Councils with a Municipal Deputy, in each ex-Local Authority with less than 500 inhabitants, to participate in the Meetings of the Town Council.
  • Each Local Council will have the following responsibilities:
1. The maintenance of the local infrastructure (water supply, sewage, irrigation, roads, common areas etc.)
2. The organizing of cultural and sporting events and programs
3. The management of valleys and forests and (under specific preconditions) of the legacies and the local resources.
  • The decisions of the Local Councils will be executed after their ratification by the relevant Municipal Body.
  • The Municipal Secretaries will be assigned to official posts of the new local authorities.

The citizens of small local authorities maintain their present rights, which are connected with the local financial life (participation in social security schemes etc.)


The Program consists of 7 Sub-programs which are complementary to each other and coordinated in the 5 years period (1997 - 2001).

Sub-program 1: Processing the legal framework. Law-making Process.

The suggested sub-program involves the following measures:

Step 1: Legal and lawmaking processing of the procedure of Mergers after land planning (main legal framework).

Step 2: Legal and lawmaking processing of the amendments in the wide field of the provisions of the Code of Municipalities and Parishes and other Acts which improve the organization and function of the primary level local government in the light of Mergers of the local authorities.

Sub-program 2: Land-planning of the new local authorities.

Step 1: Land-planning preparation
Survey on the overlapping of existing unities (processing maps with GIS software). Production of new maps indicating the common territories (starting point for the new local authorities).

Step 2: Processing in the area of application - Participatory Procedure.
Organization of discussions at the Local Unions of Municipalities and Parishes (LUMP) of each Prefecture, with the participation of all interested local authorities ; this stage should be preceded by the forwarding to them of all relevant material and by the training of suitable executives of the LUMP and the Regional Administration.
Draft of the findings.

Step 3: Final Processing - Final Drafting
Proposal of the Local Union of Municipalities and Parishes (LUMP) ; proposal of the Committee to be instituted by the Secretary General of each region ; Proposal of the competent working group, at the Ministry`s level ; final decision by the Minister, and drafting of the new planning.

Sub-program 3 : Local Public Investments

Step 1: Administrative infrastructure and technical equipment of the new municipalities.

These measures involve:
  • the restoration and equipment of a building at the seat of the new municipality (if there is no Town Hall available)
  • the supply of a minimal technical equipment that is needed, the obtaining of public means of transport (for the inhabitants of the municipality, the pupils etc.). It should be added that other public services are planned to be installed in the new Town Hall as well, which are generally necessary but do not possess individual premises (i.e. Mail Services, Electricity Company etc.)
Step 2: Development and Completion of the inter-community Public Works of technical structure and the Protection of the Environment.

These measures involve:

1. Urban-planning, restoration of common areas, other aesthetical improvements etc.
2. The development and completion of the inter-community Public Works of technical structure, to obtain communication between the ex-parishes and the seat of the new municipality.
3. The constructions of Works for the Protection of the Environment

Step 3: Development of the Educational Structure

These measures involve the development and expansion of school premises.

Step 4: Development and Completion of the social infrastructure of supra-local significance.

These measures involve the improvement and completion of social infrastructure (Nursery Schools, Community Health Centers, OAP Centers etc.)

Step 5: Improvement and completion of cultural and sports infrastructure of intra-community significance (p.e. Sport Centers, Libraries etc.)

Step 6: Development of local economic activity and of human resources

These measures involve:

1. Financial and other motives, offered to the citizens of each region, who will undertake economic initiatives for the establishment of viable production units for the exploitation of the local resources, and the creation of new employment opportunities.

2. Program of social care consisting in professional orientation, training and incorporation/re-incorporation in the labor market of young people and socially excluded persons, through the development of the institution of local employment contracts.

Sub-program 4: Staffing of the New Local Authorities

Step 1: Application of the provisions concerning staff in service.

Step 2: Detachment and transfer of administrative and technical staff from other Public Administration Sectors, by offering them financial and other motives.

Step 3: Recruitment. of scientific personnel

Sub-program 5: Covering the operating expenses

This sub-program aims at covering the basic operating cost, mainly through the CIR (Central Individual Resources), which will be estimated after the specification of a model of operating cost. The aim is to obtain a minimum level of supply of municipal public services.

Sub-program 6: Organization and Modernization of Services - Development of Human Resources.

This subprogram aims at the organization of the services of the new municipalities with contemporary methods and use of information technology, and the development towards this goal of human resources.

Its funding is basically expected to be covered by the Program "Kleisthenis"

Sub-program 7: Information and Publicity

The aims of this sub-program serve the objectives of the "IOANNIS KAPODISTRIAS" Program through measures and actions of a comprehensive communication policy.

Briefly, these measures and activities guarantee the best possible information, create the necessary «messages» of publicity and provide the preconditions of an effective, democratic debate, which will highlight the expediency and feasibility of the program, guarantee the widest possible political and social consensus and facilitate its enterprising effectiveness..

The measures and actions of publicity are addressed to:

1. The elected officials and the staff of the local authorities, in order to enable them to contribute in its specialization on a prefectural level, and permit them to participate actively in its application.
2. To the political leadership and the competent executives of the Central and Regional Government so as to develop, towards the aims of the "IOANNIS KAPODISTRIAS" Program, the public policies, the funding programs and all the other means at their disposal its successful application.
3. To the political parties and the social institutions, so as to contribute positively to the democratic debate and obtain their consensus and support. 4. To the mass media, in order to inform and sensitize public opinion, especially all those people who maintain close relations to their places of origin, so as to achieve the widest possible political and social consensus.

Those measures and activities will cover the following objectives:
  • manifest the expediency of the Program
  • analyze the substance of the Program
  • reveal its innovative character
  • highlight the democratic elements of the choices of the Program
  • underline the long-term commitments of the State for the support and the application of the new institution

The Ministry of the Interior, believes that it can allocate within the period 1997 -2001:
from CIR, CDLG etc.
from the Program "KLEISTHENIS"
266.750.000.000 GDR GDR
We believe that the competent Ministries will be able to co-finance this program through a programmatic orientation of the resources, which they already dispose to the local authorities.

The management of these resources will not be the exclusive responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, but that of each Ministry separately. The coordination of these funds will be achieved through the institution of an Inter-Ministerial Monitoring Committee for Sub-program no. 3 (Local Public Investments).

In particular, the estimated resources of the Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization which will be disposed for the enforcement of the Program "IOANNIS KAPODISTRIAS" for the four years period (1998-2001), will be derived par excellence from three sources:

a) The Central Individual Resources (CIR)
b) The Collective Decision of the Local Government (CDLG)
c) The sum disposed for interest-free loans to the Local Authorities.

The sum disposed from the CIR corresponds to the 2/3 of the expected annual increase of these resources which runs into 15% of their annual total amount.

The sum disposed from the CDLG is equal to 20% of the annual total amount. The disposed sum of the CDLG derives from the 2/3 of the expected annual increase of the total amount and from the 10% of the CDLG that is currently disposed to the Regional Councils.

The sum of the interest-free loans is calculated on the basis of the expected annual increase of the same sum that has hitherto been disposed to the Ministry of the Interior, in the form of interest-free loans to the Local Authorities. With the amounts from the above mentioned sum small local authorities are basically funded for the coverage of their needs.

Now, in the context of Reform of the Primary Level Local Authorities, we are aiming to the profitable exploitation (development) of this resource for the application of the Program.

Finally, it should be noted that, apart from the above mentioned sums, the Ministry of the Interior disposes to the Primary Level Local Authorities the total amount of the rest of the sum of the CIR and CDLG, so that the local authorities, during 1998 -as well as the new local authorities after 1999- will obtain the currently disposed resources, but deflated.

The sums estimated to be disposed for the application of the Program, i.e. the amount of 266.750.000.000 GDR, constitute additional financial support for the new local authorities, which will be exclusively concentrated on the objectives, and will be disposed according to the criteria and the procedures, of the Program.

We have already suggested for funding:
  • By the Ministry of the Environment, Land Planning and Public Works : urban planning studies, inter-community works of technical infrastructure, works for the protection of the environment.
  • By the Ministry of Education : unification of existing schools (of primary and secondary education) that present problems of low number of pupils and insufficient staffing
  • By the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare and Social Security : social equipment of inter - community significance (Nursery Schools, OAP Centers, Centers for Social Care etc.)
  • By the Ministry of Culture : Cultural Centers and Sport Centers
  • By the Ministries of National Economy, Development, Agriculture and Labor : small individual investments and re-incorporation of socially excluded people into the labor market
  • The Ministry of the Interior will fund :
-the restoration of Town Halls and the organization of public services
-technical equipment and possibly a public means of transport in each local authority (or group of authorities)
-the minimum necessary operational expenses.

A) Organs of the Program

As organs for the administration and monitoring of the Program' s application, the following are suggested:

1) On a central level, the Committee for the Administration of the Program, consisting of:

Six members appointed by the Minister of the Interior, one (1) representative of the Ministry of National Economy, one (1) representative of the Ministry of Environment, Land-Planning and Public Works, and two (2) representatives of the Central Union of Municipalities and Parishes of Greece, one of whom necessarily represents the Parishes.

President of the Committee is the competent Deputy Minister of the Interior. The Committee cooperates with Working Groups which consist of agents of the Ministry of the Interior and of other competent Ministries, and the Experts. The Committee is supported administratively by Working Group D, as well as by the Scientific Supporting Groups, which work on the elaboration of the necessary surveys and research.

On a prefectural level, a Prefectural Committee for the support of the Program is formed, headed by a representative of the Ministry of the Interior, and consisting of two (2) agents of the regional government and two (2) representatives of the Local Union of Municipalities and Parishes. It is administratively supported by the competent section of the regional administration. The Prefectural Committees are coordinated by the Committee for the Administration of the Program.

By Ministerial Decree (of the Minister of the Interior) following proposal by the Administration Committee, a Group for the Support, Information and Promotion of the Program is formed on a regional level, under the presidency of the competent Secretary General of the Region. The Regional Supporting Groups assist the Committee and Group E (Information and Publicity) in the Coordination for the application and the promotion of the Program.

The details of the organization and operation of the Administrative System of the Program are regulated by the Administrative Regulation also introduced by Ministerial Decree, following a proposal of the Administration Committee, within 20 days from the forming of the Committee.

Competence of the Administrative Organs of the Program

Committee of the Administration of the Program:
The Committee approves the specialization of the taken measures; monitors the application of the Program; coordinates the Working Groups, the Scientific Supporting Groups, the Prefecture Committees for the Support of the Program and the Regional Groups for the Support, Information and Publicity of the Program; informs the political leadership of the Ministry of the Interior; cooperates with the Committee of the Program "KLEISTHENIS".

Working Group A: Lawmaking
Working Group B: Land-planning
Working Group C: Local Public Investments
Working Group D: Administrative Support
Working Group E: Information and Publicity

B) Business Plan

As a first step, the elaboration of a business plan for a 5 years period (1997-2001) is suggested. This will include analytically the suggested regulation and the sub-programs, with the schedule and the application cost.


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