Are there any examples of successful autonomous and self-governing cities within established republics?
There are a few examples of autonomous and self-governing cities within established republics, although the degree of autonomy can vary.
Some examples include:
- Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy within China, as it operates under the “one country, two systems” principle, which grants it a high level of autonomy in terms of its economic and political systems.
- Vatican City: This is an independent city-state within Rome, Italy, and it is the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church. It is governed by the Pope and has its laws and governance system.
- Gibraltar: This is a British Overseas Territory located on the southern coast of Spain. It has a high degree of autonomy and self-government and is responsible for its internal affairs, although defense and foreign policy are the responsibility of the British government.
- Macau: is another Special Administrative Region of China, similar to Hong Kong, It has a high degree of autonomy in terms of its economic and political systems.
- Singapore: operates as a semi-autonomous city-state within Malaysia, it has a high degree of autonomy in its domestic affairs, but it is still part of Malaysia
- Puducherry, India: Puducherry is a Union Territory of India, it has its Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister, and Governor, but defense, foreign affairs, and some other matters are dealt with by Government of India
It’s worth noting that the level of autonomy of these cities varies and is subject to change and that the examples listed here are not exhaustive.
There is reason to believe that city-states are not only our past, but also our future. From a practical point of view, such structures are easier to adapt, experiment, and evolve. City-states also have a moral advantage in that their managers are at arm’s length, bureaucracy is minimal, and residents have more opportunities to influence their future.
Such a city could be managed as a condominium, where residents hire a private management company, and it actually takes on the role of City Hall. The American city of Sandy Springs, Georgia, has done just that – a private company provides all “public services” there, except for police, fire and court. A town with a population of almost a hundred thousand people is served by only seven officials. Such radical privatization allows Sandy Springs to save $20 million annually – and still be in the top U.S. cities, where people are satisfied with municipal services.
But Sandy Springs is not a charter city. It still has to exist in the U.S. legal system, obey federal laws, and pay federal taxes. Can a city like that secede and live by its own rules? It sounds utopian, yet the success of Hong Kong or Macau makes even not the most seemingly liberal states look in this direction. Such projects have different names: free trade zones, economic cities, international business circles. But the goal is the same: to create oases of freedom and the rule of law that will attract investors.