Case Studies

Ethiopia’s ‘Unusual Constitutional Umpire’: Revisiting the Role of the House of Federation

Ethiopia’s ‘Unusual Constitutional Umpire’: Revisiting the Role of the House of Federation

Abstract

Ethiopia has an ‘unusual’ system of constitutional umpire in which a political organ – the House of Federation, the upper of House of the Parliament – is charged with resolving constitutional disputes. In the past there were debates on the appropriateness of the country’s constitutional umpire. Cases were made both for and against it.  However, the entire political space being controlled by a single political party – the EPRDF – there were no major intergovernmental constitutional disputes that put the system of constitutional adjudication to a serious test. With EPRDF no more and the country’s political scene unrecognisably transformed, it has now become clear that the Ethiopian system of constitutional umpire is not only unusual but also deeply flawed and that it needs to be reformed.

 

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Posted by Zemelak Ayitenew Ayele in Case Studies, 0 comments
Rethinking Federalism in the Philippines

Rethinking Federalism in the Philippines

Abstract

The Philippines has been on a continuing decentralisation project since independence in 1946. The country’s 1987 Constitution has a local autonomy prescription which sets the standard of “maximum decentralization, short of federalization”. However, the present decentralisation system established by the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 has failed to meet this constitutional benchmark. Proposals to shift to a federal system remain a part of this ongoing decentralisation mission, but its perceived connection to constitutional change has effectively stymied the federalism advocacy because Filipinos do not support constitutional reform. Nevertheless, the goal to deepen decentralisation in the Philippines still stands. Hence, amending or replacing the LGC to reflect the constitutional standard of “maximum decentralization, short of federalization” must still be pursued. The rethinking of federalism as being part of a menu of decentralisation arrangements is an alternative approach to consider. Corollary to this, a deliberate resort to federalism studies can significantly assist legislative efforts to reach the “maximum decentralization” standard.

 

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Posted by Michael Henry Yusingco in Case Studies, 0 comments
Burundi: Power-sharing (Dis)agreements

Burundi: Power-sharing (Dis)agreements

Abstract

Ahead of the 2020 elections in Burundi, this contribution reviews the tumultuous trajectory of power-sharing in the country. From the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000, power-sharing remained the object of persistent contestation between political rivals, leading to continuous transformations in both the institutions and the practice of power-sharing in the country. This paper traces these power-struggles and institutional evolutions throughout three periods during which Burundian power-sharing was negotiated (1998-2005), contested (2005-2015), and reshaped (2015-2020). The conclusion highlights some implications of this year’s elections for the future of power-sharing in Burundi.

 

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Posted by Alexandre W. Raffoul and Réginas Ndayiragije in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Austrian Federation in Comparison

The Austrian Federation in Comparison

Abstract

Among international rankings, Austria is often considered as a rather centralized country given that the Federal Constitution does not offer many legislative competences for the Länder (federal units). After an overview of key features of Austrian federalism as laid down in the Federal Constitution, this entry seeks to compare demographic facts of Austrian federalism with those of decentralized unitary systems. Further, recent issues of the country’s political discourse are outlined.  

 

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Posted by Peter Bußjäger and Mirella Johler in Case Studies, 0 comments
Federalism in Iraq: A Liberal Idea in an Illiberal Place

Federalism in Iraq: A Liberal Idea in an Illiberal Place

Abstract

The introduction of federalism in Iraq was meant to address the lingering ethnic conflict between Kurds and Arabs and prevent an imminent breakup of the country.  Federalism was supposed to offer the Kurds a form of local self-determination by setting up a bulwark against the Arab policy of assimilation and other forms of discrimination.  The paper presents the Iraqi brand of federalism and attempts to explain its several shortcomings by testing the argument stemming from the paper’s title.

We provide enough evidence to prove that Iraqi federalism rests mainly on imposed institutions with no supportive local political traditions and culture. Acute nationalist feelings among the Kurds, a result of historically unrealized statehood, constitute an important part of the problem, too.

 

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Posted by Alex Danilovich in Case Studies, 0 comments
Northern Ireland and the Antimonies of Unionism

Northern Ireland and the Antimonies of Unionism

Abstract

Unionism swept back to power in the United Kingdom in December 2019 in a new Conservative government whose Prime Minister is also Minister for the Union. It committed itself to swift withdrawal from the European Union, with the likely effect of weakening the Union with Scotland and with Northern Ireland. Meanwhile unionism in Northern Ireland – in the form of the Democratic Unionist Party – has already undermined the union by its support for – and eventual betrayal by – hard-line British Conservatism. Why unionisms – which promise progressive and flexible politics – have such effects is the topic of this article. (This is the theme of a Special Issue of Irish Political Studies, edited by Jennifer Todd and Dawn Walsh, to be published in 2020. See Todd 2019).

 

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Posted by Jennifer Todd in Case Studies, 0 comments
Catalonia and Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: Time for a Federal Solution?

Catalonia and Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: Time for a Federal Solution?

Abstract

This contribution describes how a Catalan bid for more autonomy and for national recognition miscarried in 2010 after long negotiations. In this process, the major part of Catalan nationalism turned towards independence. We follow the different steps that led to the show-down in October 2017, with the failed declaration of independence and the temporary suspension of Catalan autonomy. New elections in Catalonia and in Spain have been of no use to get out of the quandary. While federal solutions if combined with a constitutional recognition of Spain’s plurinational character might be highly advisable to accommodate minority nations like Catalonia and to combine democracy and constitutionalism, fragmented party systems and minority governments on both sides make the necessary constitutional amendments even more improbable than ever.

 

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Posted by Klaus-Jürgen Nagel in Case Studies, Diversity Management, 0 comments
Northern Ireland: Power-Sharing in Crisis

Northern Ireland: Power-Sharing in Crisis

Abstract

In spite of numerous suspensions in its initial years, nationalist and unionist parties shared power for an uninterrupted 10 years from 2007-17. At the time of writing, however, Northern Ireland finds itself in a seemingly intractable political crisis, produced by both internal and external factors, and the future of power-sharing hangs in the balance. The impasse underlines the need for broad inclusion in power-sharing arrangements, beyond the core ethno-national parties. It further speaks to the importance of continued constructive engagement from external actors, who were central to the conflict and remain central to its resolution.

 

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Posted by Cera Murtagh in Case Studies, Federalism and Conflict, 0 comments
South Africa’s Quest for Power-Sharing

South Africa’s Quest for Power-Sharing

Abstract

In the years of transition from the authoritarian apartheid system to a new constitutional democracy, South Africa has chosen decentralisation to solve its deep-seated economic, political and societal discrepancies. This paper argues that federal principles, enshrined in both the Interim Constitution and the 1996 Constitution, played a key role in the constitutional transition to democracy and strongly contributed to the achievement of the negotiations between the different parties. However, South Africa’s (quasi) federal system is now highly centralized, with a declining autonomy for its constituent units.

 

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Posted by Fabrizio E. Crameri in Case Studies, 0 comments
Solomon Islands: A Federation that Never Was

Solomon Islands: A Federation that Never Was

Abstract

The Solomon Islands has struggled with issues of decentralisation and devolution ever since independence, but so far steered clear of embracing a federal constitution. Aspirations for ‘state government’ were complicated by the arrival of an Australian-led intervention mission over 2003-17, but a federal model also poses acute dilemmas for the country’s political elite. The Solomon Islands has become a state that repeatedly disavows its unitary form of government but so far without enacting any of the many iterations of its draft federal constitution.

 

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Posted by Jon Fraenkel in Case Studies, 0 comments