Federation

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 Alex Danilovich 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
Catalonia and Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: Time for a Federal Solution?

Catalonia and Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: Time for a Federal Solution?

Abstract

This contribution describes how a Catalan bid for more autonomy and for national recognition miscarried in 2010 after long negotiations. In this process, the major part of Catalan nationalism turned towards independence. We follow the different steps that led to the show-down in October 2017, with the failed declaration of independence and the temporary suspension of Catalan autonomy. New elections in Catalonia and in Spain have been of no use to get out of the quandary. While federal solutions if combined with a constitutional recognition of Spain’s plurinational character might be highly advisable to accommodate minority nations like Catalonia and to combine democracy and constitutionalism, fragmented party systems and minority governments on both sides make the necessary constitutional amendments even more improbable than ever.

 

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Posted by Klaus-Jürgen Nagel in Case Studies, Diversity Management, 0 comments
South Africa’s Quest for Power-Sharing

South Africa’s Quest for Power-Sharing

Abstract

In the years of transition from the authoritarian apartheid system to a new constitutional democracy, South Africa has chosen decentralisation to solve its deep-seated economic, political and societal discrepancies. This paper argues that federal principles, enshrined in both the Interim Constitution and the 1996 Constitution, played a key role in the constitutional transition to democracy and strongly contributed to the achievement of the negotiations between the different parties. However, South Africa’s (quasi) federal system is now highly centralized, with a declining autonomy for its constituent units.

 

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Posted by Fabrizio E. Crameri in Case Studies, 0 comments