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Operating within the boundaries of legislation, accountability and personal agendas: A study on financial sustainability in Catalan municipalities

Sotirios Karatzimas (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)
Carles Griful Miquela (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona Spain, and Ajuntament El Masnou, Barcelona, Spain)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 31 May 2019

Issue publication date: 11 June 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine and compare the views of mayors and comptrollers of Catalan municipalities on aspects related to the Spanish legislation on financial sustainability – its usefulness and necessity of maintaining, its impact on citizens’ welfare and alternative proposals. The setting is rather interesting as strict rules are imposed by a legislation criticized of mimicking European Commission policies, on well-performing municipalities, in light of the recent “independency” conflict.


The study uses insights from the public choice theory and the concept of accountability to draw a framework that could explain the perceptions of mayors and comptrollers. The views of the two groups are captured with the use of an online questionnaire.


The results indicate that while the application of strict rules has borne fruit, this trend is not sustainable in the long run and a careful reconsideration is required. Accordingly, both groups express concerns on citizens’ future welfare. It moreover appears that in this particular setting, mayors’ and comptrollers’ sense of accountability toward citizens exceed their personal interests.


This study provides empirical evidence on the impact of strict budget stability and sustainability rules on the long-term financial sustainability of local governments from the point of view of mayors and municipality comptrollers who are called to implement them.



The authors would like to thank Sandra Cohen, Isabel Brusca, Yuri Biondi, Yulia Kasperskaya, Giovanna Lucianelli and the participants of the 41st European Accounting Association Conference held in Milan, Italy, and the 16th Biennial CIGAR Conference, held in Porto, Portugal, where an earlier version was presented.


Karatzimas, S. and Griful Miquela, C. (2019), "Operating within the boundaries of legislation, accountability and personal agendas: A study on financial sustainability in Catalan municipalities", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 346-365.



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