By democratic decentralization we mean the devolution of powers to regularly elected local bodies, which have maximum autonomy as institutions of local self-government. Administrative decentralization aims at efficiency by delegating functions to bodies at lower levels, especially through bureaucratic structures. In a sense the accountability of the former is to the people, while in the latter accountability is to the superiors/higher authority. Decentralization brings government closer to the people. The existence of local political arenas makes it easier for ordinary citizens to participate and exert influence. When power is brought closer to the citizens, the political process becomes more tangible and transparent and more people can become involved.
Decentralization may also create a more open political system in that it implies a division of powers in society; many channels of representation and power sharing become available. This counteracts the monopolization of power by certain elite groups, often the consequence of centralized political, and administrative structures. A decentralized system is also more accessible to new political movements and minority groups in their attempts to influence politics.
Decentralization promotes participation and improves the controlling function held by the lower levels of the political system. Its greater degree of political inclusiveness may also have important conflict dampening effects. In addition to such consequences which have obvious democratic merits decentralization can also be an effective means of enhancing state capacity. As it is well known, the actual steering capacity of the public administration is fairly weak in many developing countries. In its centralized form often bloated with excessive, staff the state apparatus has in many instances proved to be poor at implementation.