Urban Regime Theory has become the dominant paradim in American Political Science to explain governance and urban policies. The emergence of this theoretical approach is related to the research of Clarence Stone about the evolution of the city of Atlanta.
Despite the success of this theoretical framework to explain urban governance in the United States, there is an important academic debate about its possible application to models of local government other than the American.
The paper analyzes the main conceptual elements that define the Theory of Urban Regime and offers the institutional framework as the main methodological instrument to detect its possible application to local European government. To do this, this article defines an index of local government capacities based on an analysis of the different local systems in the United States compared to decentralized models such as Spain and federal systems such as Belgium and Germany to offer the instruments that would allow the identification of the limitations of local government and, therefore, what actors would be necessary to constitute an urban regime.