Federation

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 team 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
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
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
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
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
The Federalization of Trade Policy

The Federalization of Trade Policy

Abstract

Sub-federal units increasingly engage in international trade politics, a policy domain that is an exclusive jurisdiction of the federal level in most federations. This article conceptualizes this process as an instance of federalization, that means a shift from a mode of governance in a policy domain previously dominated by the federal level towards a mode where both tiers are simultaneously active. While the federalization of trade policy seems to be a more general trend across federal systems, the patterns of sub-federal participation and, eventually, the power of sub-federal units to shape trade policy differ significantly. Building on insights from a collaborative research project, this article discusses the causes of sub-federal mobilization and how the institutional configuration of federalism affects sub-federal units’ options to influence trade policy agreements. In the final section, the article speculates about the conditions that may reinforce or undermine this trend in the future.

 

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Posted by Jörg Broschek in Policies, 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
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