Theory

Where does financial responsibility lie? Emerging paradigms from a comparison between Germany and Spain

Where does financial responsibility lie? Emerging paradigms from a comparison between Germany and Spain

Abstract

Financial responsibility traces the academic and political debate of any decentralising process. This is even more so in the European context, in which taxes – exclusively set and regulated by the subnational legislator – play a marginal role in subnational financing, though in theory they are the most genuine instrument for making SNGs pay for their decisions. Against this framework, this contribution delves into a selection of case studies (i.e., Germany and Spain) testing the principle of financial responsibility from a comparative and legal perspective. The basic assumption is that the way in which the vertical fiscal gap is addressed influences the degree of financial autonomy (and hence responsibility) of subnational entities. As such, the major issue at stake is the revenue structure of the subnational level of government, with regard to the legal tools and procedures devoted to revenue-sharing, as these elements play a key-role in defining the extent to which SNGs are made financially and politically responsible for their financing.

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Posted by Alice Valdesalici in Theory, 0 comments
On the Relationship between Federalism, Decentralization, and Statehood

On the Relationship between Federalism, Decentralization, and Statehood

Abstract

This brief study looks empirically at the relationship between federalism, decentralization, and statehood. This relationship is often studied by case studies, rather than looking at the subject from a broader empirical perspective. The analysis is based on a sample of 49 countries from different world regions, using data from the Fragile States Index (FSI) and the Regional Authority Index (RAI). The findings show that the degree of statehood is not related to a federal structure of a state, but related to the degree of decentralization.

 

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Posted by Christoph Mohamad-Klotzbach in Theory, 0 comments
The Veil, the Scales and the Sword: Moral and Legal Argument on Secession

The Veil, the Scales and the Sword: Moral and Legal Argument on Secession

Abstract

To build legitimate and successful secession claims and strategies, both moral and legal arguments are important. As regards moral reasoning, a nuanced primary theory of secession with remedial features is presented. With respect to the legal field, the remedial logic of general international law is distinguished from that of constitutional law. Constitutionalizing a qualified primary right to secede is then defended with the aim of fostering multinational accommodation and, ultimately, consensual secession. Although the legal regulation of secession is often partial and defective, legality must be taken seriously in liberal-democratic settings.

 

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Posted by Pau Bossacoma Busquets in Theory, 0 comments
Centripetal Federalism

Centripetal Federalism

Abstract

Centripetalism is often perceived as a type of a political system for a multi-segmental, especially multi-ethnic, country in order to create among the members of the political elite of integrative and moderate political behavior cross-cutting segmental divisions which, reaching beyond group interests, depoliticize the segmental separateness and, in this manner, reduce their significance. One of the central institutions of centripetalism is decentralization leading to a division of large segments into smaller parts that inhabit different, ideally multi-segmental regions, thus inclining regional political elites of different segments to collaborate. Although both Nigeria and Indonesia have similar centripetal territorial structures, only Nigeria is a federation. This paper focuses on Nigerian centripetal federalism and its link to the so-called federal character principle that is mostly consociational in substance.

 

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Posted by Krzysztof Trzciński in Theory, 0 comments
Federal Democracy

Federal Democracy

Abstract

Federalism and democracy are often considered as coherent principles. However, when they are established in federal democracies, institutional structures and processes reveal tensions. Whereas democracy means autonomous governing of a community according to the will of its citizens, federalism integrates communities and requires coordinated governance between levels and constituent units. Parties and parliaments legitimize governments within jurisdictions, but constrain governance in the federal system. Contrariwise, coordinated governance strengthens the executives. No institutional form of federal democracy can rule out these conflicts. It is to political actors to cope with them. Comparative research can reveal how federalism and democracy should be linked in order to allow actors to balance effective coordination and legitimacy of governments.

 

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Posted by Arthur Benz in Theory, 0 comments
Nation-building in a Multinational State: Between Majority and Minority Aspirations

Nation-building in a Multinational State: Between Majority and Minority Aspirations

Abstract

Given the existence of distinct communities with different and often contradictory aspirations, multinational states are used to witnessing some rivalry between the majority and the minority groups. This contribution explores the nation-building dynamics in this context, with a particular focus on the majority group’s rhetoric. In this regard, the dominant nationalism identifies the status quo and the official symbols of the state as neutral, therefore accusing the nation-building efforts of the minority as partisan and divisive. Nevertheless, we know that both are trying to “nationalise” its citizens and gain support for their own nationalist cause. Drawing on the case of Spain to illustrate these remarks, I argue that the acknowledgement of this reality is the first step to settle a constitutional framework where both nationalisms can flourish and coexist.

 

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Posted by Carles Ferreira in Theory, 0 comments
De/Centralisation in Federations

De/Centralisation in Federations

Abstract

How powers are distributed between the federal government and the constituent units of a federation, or de/centralisation, is at the heart of federalism. There has recently been renewed interest in studying de/centralisation in federations, with several works addressing conceptualisation, measurement, theorisation, and causal analysis. This piece takes stock of this literature and discusses its contributions.

 

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Posted by Paolo Dardanelli in Theory, 0 comments
Second Chambers In Federal States

Second Chambers In Federal States

Abstract

Second chambers have a long history and were re-designed for the purposes of federalism with the invention of the US Senate. Today, almost all federal parliaments have a bicameral structure in order to allow the constituent units to exercise shared rule. The composition and selection of federal second chambers varies very much, though: the constituent units are either represented equally or by different numbers of delegates, who are, in most cases, either appointed or elected directly or indirectly. The core function of federal second chambers relates to legislation, even though not all of them are responsible for a full range of legislative matters or other legislative functions than just (suspensive or absolute) veto powers; in some cases, they also exercise non-legislative functions. Many federal second chambers are criticized for their political inefficiency and non-representation of constituent interests. It is doubtful, however, whether they could be replaced by an alternative mechanism.

 

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Posted by Anna Gamper in Theory, 0 comments
Intergovernmental Councils and the Stability of Federal Systems

Intergovernmental Councils and the Stability of Federal Systems

Abstract

Intergovernmental councils not only increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public policy-making, they can also contribute to federal stability. Regular meetings of members of governments shape the way federal systems deal with the increasingly interdependent relationship between the governments of a federation. When policy problems cut across jurisdictions, governments’ autonomy is at stake. Looking at examples of major reforms of fiscal policy in Australia, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, this article identifies the conditions under which intergovernmental councils protect governments’ authority, discretion, and resources so as to avoid federal tensions. Federal governments, in particular, have been eager to get involved in many policy areas for which the constituent units are responsible. Hence, the extent to which intergovernmental councils contribute to the stability of today’s federations ultimately depends on their ability to make the federal government agree on joint solutions with the federated entities.

 

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Posted by Johanna Schnabel in Theory, 0 comments
Measuring Federalism and Decentralisation

Measuring Federalism and Decentralisation

Abstract

In this article I argue that federal scholars are well-advised to think of federalism as a continuum whereby subnational units can have more or less autonomy rather than allocating countries into federal and non-federal categories. The Regional Authority Index (RAI) measures the extent of self-rule and shared rule of regional government on an annual basis since 1950 and it reveals that regional autonomy arrangements in federal countries are more likely to be affected by reform than non-federal countries. In addition, self-rule appears to be the object of decentralization in non-federal countries whereas decentralization in federal countries has mostly affected shared rule. These are surprising results which come to the fore only when one escapes categorical thinking. The RAI also changes the way in which we think about the impacts of regional governance and thereby a whole new research agenda is being opened up.

 

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Posted by Arjan H. Schakel in Theory, 0 comments