Central government only undertakes tasks or makes decisions which localities cannot or which require uniform regulation.

The gravitational pull of power to the centre is one of the things designers of the German constitution had in mind at the end of the Second World War.

Germany had a certain fundamental and rather paradoxical advantage the UK lacks - they were defeated, along with Japan, and so their institutions were largely dissolved and reinvented in such a way as to avoid the accretion of power at the centre.

This is a version of this week's topic - Subsidiarity - and we look at the German model in depth, and why it has been so successful.

Talking points:

Historic backdrop of Subsidiarity

We need to reinvent local democracy

Executive mayor in Tubingen and the pandemic

How that looks in other countries

Trust in government and optimal population (+/- 5 Million)

Advantages of principle of subsidiarity

Hazards of disempowerment

Uniform regulation and local implementation in Germany

Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety and subsidiarity

...and child protection

Regional power, policy experimentation and learning


Good 2 min overview of Subsidiarity (youtube):


Troves of info on Wikipedia:

Subsidiarity in general:


...and the Catholic Church:


Pope Pius XI's Quadragesimo anno:


Great conversation on Local Government in the UK (youtube, 10 min):


Successes in the fight against Covid - (Panorama/ BBC iplayer):


(Story about Tubingen 42:00 minutes in)

A new kind of democracy in Yorkshire (article):


In depth archive on German law:


...and a top-line view on Wikipedia:


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