Federation

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
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
Guaranteeing Federalism in Post-Conflict Societies

Guaranteeing Federalism in Post-Conflict Societies

Abstract

Federalism is at the heart of many current and proposed conflict resolution settlements. It provides territorially concentrated groups, usually those that are minorities within the wider state, with autonomy over a range of matters. Yet such arrangements are often unhappy compromises, with identity groups pursuing higher levels of autonomy, up to and including secession or unification with a neighbouring kin-state, and central government seeking to limit the level of autonomy to retain power and protect against state break-up. The compromise nature of such measures and the post-conflict context in which they operate makes them inherently unstable. This paper assesses the potential of guarantee mechanisms to overcome the innate instability of federlaism as a conflict resolution mechanism by examining two cases, Bosnia, and Iraq, where federalism was a key element of a political agreement aimed at ameliorating intra-state group based conflict.

 

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Posted by Dawn Walsh in Federalism and Conflict, 0 comments
Examining Quebec-Canada Relations:  A Case-Study of Health Care

Examining Quebec-Canada Relations: A Case-Study of Health Care

Abstract

The original Constitution of Canada, the British North America Act of 1867 (BNAA), empowers two orders of government with clearly demarcated areas of legislative competences.  The Quebec government has been keen, especially since the early 1960 with the advent of the Quiet Revolution, to occupy in full its own fields of jurisdictions and to stop Ottawa from intervening in provincial domains. This was often done through the use of an opting out clause that was made available to all provinces although, in the end, Quebec was the only one to make full use of it. This text presents a case study of the recent healthcare agreements between Quebec and the central government. It points out the different relations between the provinces in relation to health care, specifically that while all other provinces sought to find a compromise on health care agreements, Quebec was successful in having its constitutional competences recognized.


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Posted by Alain-G. Gagnon and Jean-Denis Garon in Policies, 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
What Can Cannabis Legalisation Teach Us About Canadian Federalism?

What Can Cannabis Legalisation Teach Us About Canadian Federalism?

Abstract

“Executive”, “Collaborative”, “Court”, “Conflicting” or “Judicial”, Canadian federalism is depicted in eclectic terms in the academic literature. Looking at cannabis legalization in Canada, this article aims to highlight what can be revealed from the policy-making process in a federal system in which a variety of actors and orders of government are involved. It appears from the analysis that there is no hegemony of style in Canadian federalism, but rather intertwined competing dynamics at stake in the making of a single public policy.


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Posted by Maude Benoit and Gabriel Lévesque in Policies, 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
Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems: Ubiquitous, Idiosyncratic, Opaque and Essential

Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems: Ubiquitous, Idiosyncratic, Opaque and Essential

Abstract

Regardless of institutional design, all federal systems imply substantial degrees of interaction between federal partners. “Intergovernmental relations” (IGR) refer to the many modalities through which this interaction takes place. IGR take many shapes and forms. They fluctuate with time and according to policy areas. In this sense, they are idiosyncratic. They are, however, the essential “oil in the machinery” of every federal system, and as such may be rather ubiquitous. Following a short incursion in the terminological challenges relating to intergovernmental relations (and its companion: “comparative federalism”), this article explores the actors in the IGR game as well as the rich catalogue of legislative – and mostly executive-techniques on which these actors rely to structure their relations. IGR waltz between institutionalization and informality, often in an opaque fashion which tends to reinforce the executive branch of each federal partner.
This brief overview of IGR from a comparative perspective suggests that federations grounded in the “continental civil law tradition” are more likely to structure IGR through legal mechanisms and norms than their more pragmatic “common law” counterparts. Though this is a significant simplification, the latter tend to consider IGR primarily (if not exclusively) through a political lens. Yet – somewhat paradoxically – regardless of informality and legal status, IGR play similar functions in various federal systems. Coordination functions, of course. But also para-constitutional engineering ones, through which federal actors (generally the various executives) implicitly alter the official federal architecture.

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Posted by Johanne Poirier in Theory, 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