Soft Law to Align Local Governments

Soft law can be more effective in aligning local governments than using traditional methods like plans. Two contexts help to explain the superior efficacy of soft law instruments. The first is when local authorities adopt successful policies suggested by the public authority with the intention of imitating them. The second is when a local authority feels constrained by lack of funding and thus cannot feasibly exercise their powers. In an intergovernmental relationship, a non-traditional method works better than a traditional one when it takes advantage of budget cuts to adopt a soft law instrument. It is worth noting, moreover, that the challenge of alignment discussed in this paper arises in any country with decentralized authorities (federal systems, regional systems and even unitary-decentralized systems). The same problem in all such systems, in which local autonomy is asserted by local authorities in a State.