Case Studies

Federalism in Germany: The View from Below

Federalism in Germany: The View from Below

Abstract

There is hardly something that could be called “federal spirit” in Germany. Mostly, the German citizens have little knowledge about which jurisdiction is in charge of what. If things do not work well – like schooling in most of the Länder currently – politicians suggest, and citizens ask for centralized solutions. The roots of this apathy towards the federal order can be found in the formation of the German Empire of 1871: The agreement was that the German states (since 1919: Länder) wanted common federal regulations with their consent but the implementation was to remain in their hands. This concept is valid until today. The Basic Law stipulates: “The Länder shall execute federal laws in their own right …” Still today we have a cleavage between the “Prussian” Protest North and East and the Catholic South. This cleavage is underpinned today by an economic cleavage, the South is more prosperous and richer than the North and in particular the East. Therefore, the North and the East has a stronger leaning towards the federal government while the South argues for more independence and mot autonomy for the Länder.

 

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Posted by Wolfgang Renzsch in Case Studies, 0 comments
Rebalancing Federal Citizenship in Canada

Rebalancing Federal Citizenship in Canada

Abstract

In multinational federations, tensions around national identities, rights and entitlements, and power-sharing arrangements are endemic and never finally resolved. In Canada, simultaneous constitutional and fiscal crises in the 1990s brought into question the legitimacy of the ‘federal bargain’ at the core of the citizenship regime. The federal government’s response was to introduce a number of institutional, programmatic, fiscal and symbolic reforms that adjusted the delicate balance between national unity and the accommodation of diversity. This pragmatic political vision, replete with certain asymmetries and ambiguities, enabled Canada to rebuild and rebalance its way to its own unique shade of federalism.

 

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Posted by James Bickerton in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Three Shades of American Federalism

The Three Shades of American Federalism

Abstract

Donald Trump is a transgressive president elected by a minority of voters but elevated to the White House by a quintessential institution of American federalism, the Electoral College. However, the federal system otherwise poses significant barriers to transgressive behaviour because it is a complex mix of dualism, intergovernmental cooperation, and national coercion. The system’s constitutional dualism allows space for autonomous state policy-making. The system’s rule-bound and bureaucratic structures of intergovernmental policy implementation limit the ability of one president to substantially alter this cooperative dimension of the system. The long-run trend, though, is toward greater centralization and federal government coercion of state and local governments.

 

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Posted by John Kincaid in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Federalism Debates in Nepal and Myanmar: From Ethnic Conflict to Secession-risk Management

The Federalism Debates in Nepal and Myanmar: From Ethnic Conflict to Secession-risk Management

Abstract

Nepal and Myanmar both committed to establishing federalism in response to ethnic conflict and a secession risk. However, while Nepal has successfully enacted a federal constitution following a participatory process, Myanmar’s elite-based negotiations have slowed considerably. The management of the secession risk is the key issue pervading the federalism debates in these countries. This is especially manifest in decisions about how and where to draw provincial boundaries (ethnic versus territorial federalism) and the division of powers. Such design features can help overcome the perception within Myanmar’s military that federalism will lead to secession, which remains a significant hurdle.

 

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Posted by Michael G Breen in Case Studies, 0 comments
What Does the EU tell us about Federalism?

What Does the EU tell us about Federalism?

Abstract

 

The link between federalism and the EU has been widely explored from the perspective of structural, definitional elements. Rather than looking at the impact of federalism on the EU, this paper looks at what the EU tells us about contemporary federalism. It is contended that the most significant contribution of the EU to the theory and practice of federalism is the key role of asymmetry. In the EU, like in other contemporary manifestations of federalism, asymmetry is the backbone of the functioning of the relations between the tiers of government, a structural rather than an accidental element of today’s federalism.

 

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Posted by Francesco Palermo in Case Studies, Theory, 0 comments
Is there a Federal Solution to the UK’s Constitutional Conundrum?

Is there a Federal Solution to the UK’s Constitutional Conundrum?

Abstract

Federalism in the UK has long had promoters and detractors: a radical but fitting solution to the UK’s asymmetry or a European plot to infiltrate the historic British tradition of parliamentary sovereignty? In the last two decades, with the advent of devolution, the extension of European influence through the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Eurozone, the devolution of further powers, the Scottish independence referendum, and the decision to leave the European Union, constitutional questions have been to the fore of UK politics. For some, this means federalism’s time has come – though for others it remains unworkable in the UK’s complex constitutional setting.  This article explores why federalism remains an idea – albeit a minority one – which maintains interest among UK politicians, and concludes that the problems levelled against a federal UK continue to be unsurmountable.

 


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Posted by Malcolm Harvey in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Pleasant Greyness of Australian Federalism

The Pleasant Greyness of Australian Federalism

Abstract

This article provides an overview of Australian federalism, describing its origins, design, features, evolution, and issues. Its central theme is the way that, in the notable absence of a ‘federal society’, a system that was decentralised in design and intent has given way to one much more centralised in practice. The issues that plague Australian federalism are the practical ones of fiscal federalism and intergovernmental relations.

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Posted by Alan Fenna in Case Studies, 0 comments
How Autonomous is Scotland today? – The Economic and Fiscal Perspective

How Autonomous is Scotland today? – The Economic and Fiscal Perspective

Abstract

With Brexit looming, the United Kingdom is undergoing a constitutional crisis. The adaptation of the devolution process, initiated the late 1990s, to the withdrawal from the European Union and the autonomy of Scotland in particular are some of the central issues at stake. Just a few years after the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, this crisis highlights some of the limits of this process as well as Scotland’s vulnerabilities. These are of three orders: fiscal, commercial, and constitutional. This short article describes them.

 


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Posted by X. Hubert Rioux in Case Studies, 0 comments
Sri Lanka: Devolution, Secession and Current Debates on the “F” Word

Sri Lanka: Devolution, Secession and Current Debates on the “F” Word

Abstract

While in constitutional theory, a unitary state is one in which there is only one ultimate source of state power, for many Sri Lankans ‘unitary’ means ‘oneness’ or ‘one country’. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution introduced limited devolution, but successive governments have been taking back powers to the Centre using all conceivable means. Sinhala nationalists who oppose any devolution equate devolution with federalism and have raised the bogey that more devolution would necessarily result in secession. On the other hand, the Tamil fear is that devolution within a unitary state would lead to rule of the majority and centralization of power. This short contribution examines the development of decentralisation in the context of Sri Lanka, including the recent interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly.

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Posted by Jayampathy Wickramaratne in Case Studies, 0 comments
Federalism vs. Decentralization in Latin America

Federalism vs. Decentralization in Latin America

Abstract

Additional countries have turned to federalism in recent years in many world regions, but in Latin America the set of countries with federal institutions has not changed in more than a century. Despite this stasis, a spate of reforms have otherwise strengthened subnational governments across the region. In this short essay, I point to a number of dimensions along which Latin America’s federations have become more truly federal while its unitary systems have become less genuinely unitary. As a result, Latin America has become more important than ever as a region in which to ask what difference federalism makes.

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Posted by Kent Eaton in Case Studies, 0 comments