Federalism

Perspectives on Comparative Federalism

Perspectives on Comparative Federalism

Abstract

The number of countries embracing federalism is rocketing and research on federalism is booming. Federal studies are eventually abandoning the vain search for definitional clarity, and increasingly look at the potential of federalism to provide solutions to some of the most pressing challenges to contemporary constitutionalism. Federalism is indeed the oldest institutional mechanism to regulate pluralism, and has therefore a lot to offer in solving contemporary challenges originating from the quest for more pluralism, both institutional and societal.

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Posted by Francesco Palermo in Theory, 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
Cooperative Federalism and the Dominant Role of Consensus in German Federalism

Cooperative Federalism and the Dominant Role of Consensus in German Federalism

Abstract

German federalism is one of the most unitary in the world. It started from assumptions based on the subsidiarity principle. They still are to be found in the German constitution. The lack of a federalism culture, the output orientation of German politics that stresses the sameness of living conditions, and party-political centralization have shaped Germany’s federalism. The last three reforms of German federalism 2006, 2009, and 2017 have all contributed to more centralism and shared decision-making of the federal government and the Land executives.

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Posted by Roland Sturm in Case Studies, 0 comments
Are Cities Constituent Units in Brazil’s Federalism?

Are Cities Constituent Units in Brazil’s Federalism?

Abstract

The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 states that municipalities (cities) are part of the federal union. This statement reflects the relevance of local governments in Brazil’s federation. The federal structure does not guarantee municipalities the same level of federative ground the states have. However, municipal competences and roles established by the constitution and the dynamic of Brazilian federalism have shown a high level of participation of local governments in Brazil’s federation.

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Posted by Gilberto M. A. Rodrigues in Case Studies, 0 comments
Autonomous Island Regions

Autonomous Island Regions

Abstract

Research regarding autonomous island regions encounters a myriad of various definitions used in two overarching traditions within the field: autonomism and federalism. This short article sheds some light on some of the most common definitions used and maybe how we can derive some closure in the area. However, more research should be done in order to come up with a complete list of autonomous islands in the world.

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Posted by Maria Ackrén in Case Studies, 0 comments
Gender Equality and Federalism

Gender Equality and Federalism

Abstract

Gender scholars argue that a federal model of governance can provide opportunities to advance gender equality and the rights of women. Those opportunities include increased opportunities to sit in public office, multiple access points for women to lobby for reform measures, encouraging policy transfer between different regions of a country, protecting women from violence by responding more effectively to ethnic diversity and conflict through the provision of autonomy, self-rule and self-determination, and enabling local concerns including the different interests of women to be better represented. In some situations, however, gender scholars argue a federal model of governance makes it difficult to achieve uniformity of laws, programs and services that benefit women, it fragments the solidarity of the women’s movements, and that it is costly and complicated to navigate making gender reform measures more difficult to implement.

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Posted by Christine Forster in Policies, 0 comments
The Union Model of Indian Federalism

The Union Model of Indian Federalism

Abstract

The Founding Fathers provided India with a Union Constitution and a model of federalism, which is now distinctively know as a ‘union model of federalism’. It distinctively harmonises otherwise opposite processes of (i) centralisation-decentralisation; (ii) autonomy-integration, and unionisation- regionalisation. The degree of federalism varies from Article to Article and from one context to another. One finds a consistency in the relative degrees of centralisation and decentralisation. Powers are distributed in a manner as to promote federal nationalism and regionalism, besides being an ethnically responsive federal polity. With the introduction of Goods and Services Taxes (GST) and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and growing salience of subject specific regulatory bodies, Indian federalism is gradually shifting towards a system of national governance, which I have termed ‘National federalism’. This contribution succinctly analyses these aspects of Indian federalism.

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Posted by Ajay Kumar Singh in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Original Sin of Ethiopian Federalism

The Original Sin of Ethiopian Federalism

Abstract

Territorial autonomy for ethnic groups is an important component of Ethiopian federalism designed to deal with the challenges of ethnic diversity. The constitutional decision to use ethnicity as a basis for the organisation of the state represents a recognition of the political relevance of ethnicity. However, the decision that each major ethnic group should be dominant in one and only subnational unit has elevated ethnic identity to a primary political identity. This approach overlooks other historically and politically relevant territorial identities. The constitution thus misses an opportunity to respond to ethnic concerns without freezing ethnicity as an exclusive political identity.

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Posted by Yonatan Fessha in Case Studies, 0 comments
Switzerland in 2018 – The Re-birth of Federalism?

Switzerland in 2018 – The Re-birth of Federalism?

Abstract

Switzerland is often held up as one of the most successful examples of a stable federal system. Since its creation in 1848, Swiss federalism has contributed to the country’s stability, as well as its wealth and prosperity. Notwithstanding the generally accepted success of the Swiss experiment with federalism, the Swiss themselves very much relish an opportunity to examine and criticise the federal system. This has even been institutionalised in the form of ‘National Conferences on federalism’ which, when convened every three years, provide a forum for a discussion on the development of Swiss federalism, often focusing on drawbacks and weaknesses as opposed to benefits. For the first time in many years, however, the 2017 National Conference presented federalism in a more positive light. This article briefly details the history and complexity of federalism in Switzerland, discusses the development of the National Conferences and concludes with a discussion on federalism in times of illiberal democracy.

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Posted by Nicolas Schmitt in Case Studies, 0 comments