Federalism

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
The Forgotten Federalism of Venezuela

The Forgotten Federalism of Venezuela

Abstract

Venezuela has been pursuing decentralization since its independence in 1830. The nation has always followed an Anglo-Saxon federalist model that has been difficult to achieve over the years. Venezuela has had twenty-five Constitutions since 1811, most of which declared the country a federation. National power has always moved like a pendulum swinging between autocratic regimes to decentralized systems. From 1988 to 1998, the nation had a remarkable advance in the ratification of a federalist system. In 1999 after the election of President Hugo Chavez, the country stopped any efforts of decentralization and started a new authoritarian cycle.

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Posted by Maria Fernanda Ortega in Case Studies, 0 comments
Asymmetric Federalism and Protection of Indigenous Peoples: The Case of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Federalism

Asymmetric Federalism and Protection of Indigenous Peoples: The Case of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Federalism

Abstract

In Malaysia, federalism is not in general designed to deal with the problem of ethnic differences. Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, are, however, exceptions, as their identity largely reflects the indigenous people of those states. Having been admitted to the federation to form Malaysia in 1963, these states have extra constitutional powers and guarantees compared to the other 11 states of Malaysia. However, over the last six decades the autonomy guaranteed to them has been eroded by political interference, and there is a strong resentment of the federal system as it is, based on the federation’s failure, in the eyes of many Sabahans and Sarawakians, to honour the terms of the original agreement, or to respect the land rights and interests of the indigenous people. This paper argues that, despite constitutional safeguards and asymmetric powers, the autonomy of these states has not been protected.

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Posted by Andrew Harding in Case Studies, 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
Towards Recentralisation?: Thailand’s 2014 Coup, Tutelage Democracy and their Effects on Local Government

Towards Recentralisation?: Thailand’s 2014 Coup, Tutelage Democracy and their Effects on Local Government

Abstract

Due to the tenacious rivalry between the royalist-nationalist faction and its pro-liberal counterpart nationwide since 2006, the traditional elites and the military have sought to reinvigorate their political hegemony, especially through the recentralisation scheme under the tutelage democratic regime. However, it appears too hasty to conclude at this stage that hopes for decentralisation in Thailand are fading. A growing public appetite for popular democracy and local self-government which led to mass protests in 2020 seems to keep such hopes alive. Meanwhile, recent problems, notably the persistent air pollution in Chiang Mai and economic fallout exacerbated by the outbreak of Covid-19, further expose the problems pertaining to recentralisation. This article seeks to assess the adverse effects of the 2014 coups and tutelage democracy on Thailand’s decentralisation process as well as how political struggles for liberal democracy nonetheless help preserve hopes for this process.

 

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Posted by Andrew Harding and Rawin Leelapatana in Case Studies, 0 comments
Covid-19, the USA and the Generation of Constitutional Conflict

Covid-19, the USA and the Generation of Constitutional Conflict

Abstract

The United States has responded ineffectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising questions about the capacity of contemporary American federalism to deal with crises.  This article examines the scope of power granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution and the legislative power available to states under state constitutions, concluding that these powers are adequate to deal with the pandemic and other emergencies.  It then considers whether having multiple governments confronting the crisis has precluded a coordinated response.  Although scholars have highlighted cooperative federalism in the United States, cooperation is not automatic, and in recent years American political parties have become more ideologically cohesive and more polarized. Federalism has multiplied the opportunities for these parties to advance their objectives or to frustrate those of their adversaries in the overlapping domains in which both states and the federal government operate. The result has been uncooperative federalism.

 

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Posted by Alan Tarr in Policies, 0 comments
From Shades to Fragments: US Federal Democracy under the Trump Administration

From Shades to Fragments: US Federal Democracy under the Trump Administration

Abstract

The controversies linked to the current US president aside, the Trump administration has faced obstacles in implementing its political programmes. This is unsurprising as governing in the United States is, in general, quite difficult. Reasons for this stem from the separation of powers at national level, but also the complexity of US federalism. The manifold division of powers in federal and democratic government render the US by comparison a rather uncoupled federal democracy. Despite these constitutional default settings, the United States has witnessed many instances and phases of cross-branch and cross-level cooperation. However, in recent decades, both American federalism and democracy have become increasingly wrought with tensions, polarization and political conflicts. In this contribution, I aim to show that the overarching pattern of US federal democracy has developed into one of fragmentation. This pattern has surely been exacerbated under the Trump presidency, but it has long been in the making.

 

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Posted by Jared Sonnicksen in Case Studies, 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
Covid-19 and its Effects on the Federalism Initiative in the Philippines

Covid-19 and its Effects on the Federalism Initiative in the Philippines

Abstract

In the Philippines, the federalist initiative can be categorized as a relatively recent political project. The country has for the longest time adopted a strong central government that led to top-down governance. Critics have long pointed out that such concentration of power has led to the neglect of many areas in the country. The clamour was particularly loud especially from the southern part of the Philippines were a protracted civil war, essentially, arrested the development potential of a resource rich region. Recently, secessionist moves led by Islamic rebel groups have been toned down owing to a peace settlement signed under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.  The election of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2016 catalyzed the federalist movement in the Philippines. Under his administration, a consultative commission composed of leading public intellectuals was formed to draft a new constitution to replace the 1987 constitution that on paper, categorizes the country as a unitary state. The draft document christened the “Bayanihan” constitution was eventually submitted to Duterte for his consideration and eventual endorsement to the public (President Duterte receives proposed federal constitution of Consultative Committee – Presidential Communications Operations Office, 2020). Curiously, such expected strong support for this landmark document was not forthcoming owing perhaps to conditions which I will outline below.

 

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Posted by Raymund John P. Rosuelo in Policies, 0 comments
Covid-19 and Federalism in India

Covid-19 and Federalism in India

Abstract

The pandemic due to novel corona-virus in the Indian federation is controlled in its initial stage through centralized institutional arrangements with synergistic relationships of all state governments. Public servants and security forces are responsible to enforce lockdowns. These arrangements, in the exit plan, need to gradually give way to the decentralized responsibilities of local governments including panchayats and municipalities. The contagion can only be prevented by changing human attitudes and behaviours. Local governments and community, closest to the residents, are best placed to bring this change and inculcate physical distancing on sustainable basis. Hence, the role of local governments must be prominent, at least, in the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

 

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Posted by V N Alok in Policies, 0 comments