Joint-decision Making: An Alternative to Centralisation / Decentralisation

Joint-decision Making: An Alternative to Centralisation / Decentralisation


The text presents the concept of joint-decision making as an idea and alternative to the already established concepts of centralisation and decentralisation in federal studies. Whereas the notions of centralisation and decentralisation seem to be well established in federal studies, the idea of joint-decision making seems to count only as a German speciality or a German feature of federal studies. This paper further explores this idea and concept, drawing upon the German case as well as suggesting it is worth expanding beyond it.


It is an open question, if a clear and long-lasting location of competences (or powers in North-American parlance) on the central or decentral territorial level of decision making is needed in any political system. In other words, from time to time an adjustment of the location of competences may be required in order to preserve a stable democratic political system. At the same time, competences also need to be fixed for preserving a stable political system. This paradoxical situation of change and stability exists for all political systems, no matter if competences are fixed in constitutions or not. This also means that political system without written constitutions, like the United Kingdom and Israel, face similar challenges particularly when compared to federal systems. Therefore, the question if decisions about change and stability in politics are taken on a territorially defined central or decentral level is at the heart of all political systems (Benz et al. 2016b). Even if a permanent solution should be found as to where to locate competences (on a central or decentral political level), the question remains: What competences should be placed on a central or decentral territorial level? At this point arguments vary. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages that occur when locating competences on a (de)central territorially defined level.

Another possibility beyond centralisation and decentralisation of competences exists. At least in the German and European Union (EU) realm the idea of joint-decision making is apparent in many instances. A growing number of other political systems have also recently begun to discover the idea of joint-decision making. The additional concept of joint-decision making stands beside the concepts of centralisation and decentralisation. Hence (de)centralisation and joint-decision making are by no means mutually exclusive or an antinomy, but interrelated and can co-exist beside each other. The suggestion of establishing a political system of joint-decision making seems to be a way out of the zero-sum game between (de)centralisation.

In classical texts about joint-decision making (Scharpf et al. 1976), the concept is often presented as an alternative to the issue of the centralisation and decentralisation of competences. Indeed, joint-decision making contradicts the general idea of transparency with the clear location of competences because all territorial levels are involved in the financing and execution of policies. Whereas in the classical example of the work about joint-decision making the financing was or is the task of the central (upper) territorial level, the execution of policies or policy making was or is the task of the decentral (lower) territorial level. This situation, for instance, is the case in German federalism as well as the EU. Indeed, joint-decision making combines a certain amount of autonomy and community for the solution of different problems. In the German context, Fritz Scharpf and colleagues argued that joint-decision making engenders better efficiency in dealing with problems about common goods, joint products and external effects (costs). Whereas finding solutions to those problems requires the cooperation of federal and federated entities, federal and federated entities also need to preserve their autonomy in other contexts. The question, therefore, remains: What mix is needed to ensure they are effective and legitimate? All political systems thus need to determine on their own in what contexts autonomous solutions and in what contexts common solutions are needed or wanted for achieving efficient and legitimate solutions for problems at stake. Throughout time, the mix of autonomy and community needs to balanced anew

Terminological Clarification

The core definition of joint-decision making (Politikverflechtung) can be found in German language in publications many years ago from Fritz Scharpf et al. in 1976:

“…bei dem zwar einerseits die Entscheidungsautonomie der dezentralen Entscheidungseinheiten eingeschränkt wird, bei dem jedoch andererseits die umfassenden Entscheidungseinheiten (Bund, Länder, Europäische Gemeinschaft) nicht gesamte Aufgabenkomplexe an sich zogen,…” (Scharpf et al. 1976: 29)

In a corresponding translation, this means that embracing decision units (like the federal government in Germany, Länder or the European Community / Union) did not attract every embracing competence. The autonomy of decentral political units was restricted to those competences the central and decentral level could agree on. This therefore means that there are no exit strategies or opting out solutions in a joint-decision making system. For none of the governments, be it a central government, decentral governments or any other governmental actor would be able to pursue its own policies.

Starting from this definition the concept of joint-decision making was adjusted into horizontal, vertical or compound decision-making structures (Benz et al 1992). The compound structures were the initial idea for developing the concept of joint-decision making and the horizontal and vertical structures of decision making were added later to the initial concept.

Moreover, the concept of the joint-decision trap gained prominence in public and academic discourse with the definition that a factual joint-decision trap has an elaborated meaning that “systematically (…) inefficient and inadequate problem-solving” takes place. At the same time, the federal system is unable to “change the institutional conditions of its decision-making logic” (Scharpf, 1988: 271). Hence the absence of the joint-decision trap. This is because the political system is unitary (and not federal), but does not mean that political performance is per se better. The quality of political output does not directly relate to the fact that a system of joint-decision making works or does not work (for the case of the joint-decision trap).

Joint-Decision Making and Federal Studies

The concept of joint-decision making is closely related to federal studies because it relates to different levels of decision- and policy-making. Furthermore, testable hypotheses can be derived from the general concept of joint-decision making. The concept was latter made more specific by Fritz Scharpf himself, but also by other scholars, with a particular focus on why joint-decision making is prone to being unable to produce suitable solutions for political problems ending in the joint-decision trap (Politikverflechtungs-Falle) (Scharpf 1988). In reality, there indeed exists a joint-decision trap, but Fritz Scharpf himself laid down that this is only one possibility among several possibilities. Political actors circumvent the joint-decision trap regularly, and are thus rarely caught in the joint decision trap.

Sharpening Focus

Discussions about joint-decision making (Politikverflechtung) started in 1976 with the book of Fritz Scharpf, Bernd Reissert and Fritz Schnabel. Later the concept was narrowed down to the joint decision trap (Scharpf 1988). But the concept was also broadened and a horizontal dimension was analysed in greater depth (Benz et al. 1992). Case studies about Germany (Scheller / Schmid 2008) and the EU (Falkner 2011) gather in edited volumes, so that many policies are covered for Germany and the EU. A case study about school policy deals with party politics and joint-decision making in Germany (Heinz 2015). Also, the concept of joint-decision making is applied in the Literature to Canada (Painter 1991), the EU (Peters 1997) and Scandinavia (Blom-Hansen 1999). Usually main discussions with regards to joint-decision making are related to exploring whether a policy, an institutional system or an institution itself is trapped in joint decision making or not. Few examples, however, are known and acknowledged to show that political actors are indeed trapped in joint-decision making. In addition, the focus of the academic literature lies more on the joint-decision trap and not in joint-decision making, although the trap only rarely occurs.

Contemporary Debates

The topic of joint-decision making is a middle range theory as Fritz Scharpf himself declared many times, because it covers the German case and the case of the European Union / Community. The application of the concept of joint-decision making has been relatively rare in scholarship limited to Germany, Canada (Painter 1991) and Scandinavia (Blom-Hansen 1999). It seems worthwhile, therefore, to widen this research agenda and apply the concept of joint-decision making to other federal states. For the German case, the concept is still of practical relevance, although many forms of coordination have changed over time, but no formal or institutional reforms took place. For example, joint tasks were heavily debated in the past, but they still are also of practical importance at least for German politics.

Concluding Reflections

To conclude, it can be said that Joint-decision making is a characteristic of the German and European federal political system. It enables also a way out of the enduring question of the European Union / Community if there should be more or less centralisation or decentralisation. An answer in favour of Joint-decision making would be that the mix of centralization and decentralisation would be dynamic so that negative aspects would be diminished and positive aspects of (de)centralisation would be increased. But against this statement, the concept of joint-decision making had to face demand for abolishment in the forefront of the first federal reform in Germany.

At least in the cases of Germany and the EU the situation seems to be far away in terms of abolishing joint-decision making, because that was publicly postulated in the past. Obviously joint-decision making proved to be more robust than expected beforehand. Hence, future research would need to discover joint-decision making also in other institutional contexts that is to say in other federal systems.



Benz, Arthur / Jessica Detemple / Dominic Heinz (2016a) Varianten und Dynamiken der Politikverflechtung im deutschen Bundesstaat (Nomos: Baden-Baden).

Benz, Arthur / Dominic Heinz / Eike-Christian Horning / Bettina Petersohn / Andrea Fischer-Hotzel and Jörg Kemmerzell (2016b) Constitutional Policy in Multilevel-Systems. The Art of Keeping the balance (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Benz, Arthur / Jörg Broschek (Eds.) (2013) Federal Dynamics Continuity, Change, and the Varieties of Federalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Benz, Arthur / Fritz W. Scharpf / Reinhard Zintl (1992) Horizontale Politikverflechtung: Zur Theorie von Verhandlungssystemen (Frankfurt/Main: Campus Verlag).

Blom-Hansen, Jens (1999) Avoiding the joint-decision trap: Lessons from intergovernmental relations in Scandinavia, in: European Journal of Political Research (35) 35-67.

Heinz, Dominic (2015) Politikverflechtung in der Schulpolitik: Koordination im Wandel, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift 56 (4) 626-647.

Painter, Martin (1991) Intergovernmental Relations in Canada: An Institutional Analysis, in: Canadian Journal of Political Science, 24 (2) 269-288.

Peters, B. Guy (1997) Escaping the joint-decision trap: Repetition and sectoral politics in the EU, in: West European Politics 20 (2) 22-36.

Scharpf, Fritz W. (1988) The Joint-Decision Trap: Lessons from German Federalism and European Integration, in: Public Administration, 66 (3) 239-278.

Scharpf, Fritz / Bernd Reissert / Fritz Schnabel (1976) Politikverflechtung: Theorie und Empirie des kooperativen Föderalismus in der Bundesrepublik (Scriptor: Kronberg).

Scheller, Henrik / Josef Schmid (2008) Föderale Politikgestaltung im deutschen Bundesstaat: Variable Verflechtungsmuster in Politikfeldern. (Nomos: Baden-Baden).


Further Reading

Scharpf, Fritz / Bernd Reissert / Fritz Schnabel (1976) Politikverflechtung: Theorie und Empirie des kooperativen Föderalismus in der Bundesrepublik (Scriptor: Kronberg).

Benz, Arthur / Jessica Detemple / Dominic Heinz (2016a) Varianten und Dynamiken der Politikverflechtung im deutschen Bundesstaat (Nomos: Baden-Baden).

Benz, Arthur / Jörg Broschek (Eds.) (2013) Federal Dynamics Continuity, Change, and the Varieties of Federalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Scharpf, Fritz (1988) The Joint-decision trap: Lessons from German federalism and European integration, in: Public Administration 66 (3) 239–278.

Falkner, Gerda (2011) The EUs Decision Traps. Comparing Policies (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Posted by Dominic Heinz in Policies, Theory, 0 comments
Secession and Federalism: A Chiaroscuro

Secession and Federalism: A Chiaroscuro


The relationship between federalism and secession might be regarded as antithetical but is an unavoidable fact in multinational political communities. Integration and disintegration are both possible trends in a federation. Recent political events in Catalonia show the salience of independence claims, a political phenomenon already experienced by other countries such as Scotland or Quebec. Liberal democracies evolve and debates on self-government and self-determination cannot be discussed as they were decades ago. Constitutional right to secede is extremely rare, however we can find good reasons both in constitutional and normative analysis supporting democratic self-determination. Minority nations, as permanent minorities, claim for liberal guarantees to protect them from majorities, but also democratic rights to express their views on their constitutional future. Pacts are the basis of any political agreement and any federal arrangement requires individual and collective compromises to be respected.



Wo viel Licht ist, ist starker Schatten

[Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If federalism has fifty shades, secession is certainly one of them. The long shadow of disintegration hangs over (almost) every current or past federation in the world. The emergence of independent States out of former federal units has been a common outcome of collapsed federations. Perhaps due to these historical precedents, federalism and secessionism are generally seen as antithetical trends since they are considered to be pushing in different directions.

Federal political systems are “shared rule plus self-rule” (Elazar 1987) institutional designs aiming at either “holding together” (India or Belgium) or at “coming together” (Switzerland, US, EU) (Stepan 2005). Some of them are plurinational, although a majority claim to be mononational[2] (Requejo 2005). Conversely, secession implies a breaking up of the status quo. That is, creating a new State on a piece of territory formerly belonging to another State (or federation of States). Therefore, it entails a transfer of sovereignty from a parent State to a new political unit (Pavkovic and Radan 2007), which is the reverse of any “coming together” federation and the undesired outcome of a system that is “holding together”.

In spite of these contradictions, pro-independence movements (and secessions) are an inescapable part of plurinational federal political systems. First, federalism has often been used to accommodate diversity, with minority nations typically living in federal regimes or at least in States with a certain degree of political decentralisation. Second, centripetal and centrifugal forces are part of any plurinational federation’s political life. Third, debates on secession and national pluralism are always mediated by local understandings of what federalism really means. Burgess (2006) makes a distinction between Anglo-American traditions and Continental traditions of federal thought. Some European countries seem closer to the Catholic notion of “subsidiarity” and Bodinian unique sovereignty; while the Anglo-American tradition would certainly seem to be influenced by the Protestant “covenant” tradition, which would give certain flexibility to sovereignty negotiations. The language of federalism is not only varied but is also constantly evolving and being renewed from a historical perspective (Norman and Karmis 2005).

The Right to Secede in a Federation

Regulations on the right to secede are extremely rare[3], but if they do exist, it is normally in a federal context. Ethiopia and St. Kitts and Nevis have regulations on the right to secede, and the EU Treaty of Lisbon includes Article 50 that contemplates withdrawal from the Union. Apart from these cases, recent regulations on self-determination and secession demands include the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1998 Opinion on the secession of Quebec[4] and the 2000 Clarity Act in Canada. [5]  Another is the 2012 Edinburgh agreement on the 2014 Scottish independence referendum in the context of Scotland’s devolution scheme. [6] Former federations, such as the USSR, also included the right of constituent units to secede.[7]

Instances such as the dissolution of the USSR or the passing of the Canadian and UK legislation raise one crucial question (although there are others): does the right to secede foster secessionism in a federation? Broadly speaking, there are two answers to this question.

Bauböck (2000) argues that the virtue of federalism is precisely to replace self-determination by self-government for minority nations; therefore federalism must exclude secession rights and strengthen self-government. From a more legal perspective, Sunstein (1991, 2001) has famously argued against “secession clauses” in federal constitutions since, in his view, such clauses would lead to strategic behaviours (blackmail) and would undermine the constituent units’ commitment to the constitutional pact from the very beginning.

However, these arguments have been refuted by other authors, who claim the contrary. Kymlicka (2001: 224) stresses the virtues of self-government and federal agreements and affirms that:

the goal shouldn’t be to provide iron-clad guarantees of existing state borders (which cannot be done in a free and democratic society), but rather on providing firm guarantees that the rights of internal minorities will be protected in the event that state borders change, and that the majority group will survive as a nation even if it loses some minority territory.

Moreover, a “secession clause” can actually help to keep talk of secession out of the political debate and to provide actual commitment to the Constitution by defining a clear “way out”, thus preventing potential blackmail (Weinstock 2001; Norman 2006). These views in favour of “constitutionalising” secession seem to be more consistent with some moral approaches formulated by political philosophers. Approaches based on Kantian moral individualism tend to be more reluctant to accommodate these policies than Hegelian approaches that include a commitment to the politics of recognition (Requejo 2013).


Normative Accounts on the Right to Secede in Federations

The moral ground for the right to secede is generally presented as a conditioning factor. Buchanan (2004) justifies a right to unilateral secession when an existing intrastate agreement has been breached by the Central/Federal government, thus endangering the rights of the self-governing minority. Similarly, Seymour (2007) equates the right to secede with external self-determination. While internal self-determination should be a primary right of minority nations, external self-determination would only be justified in the context of an absence of internal self-determination. Equal recognition, proposed by Patten (2014) is another moral foundation of minority rights. When equal recognition is not fulfilled, there will potentially be more ground for claiming a right to secede.

In my opinion, these theories use a common positive intuition by placing fairness at the centre of any justification of secession rights in a federation (Sanjaume-Calvet 2016). However, defining the right as a “remedy” to injustice, clearly a Lockean approach, has some important problems.

Aside from domestic legislation, justice can be defined by international standards; however, the parent State, or the majoritarian nation within the federation, will always be the one that defines the terms of a “just” accommodation in times of conflict with a minority. That is, the parent State has the last word on “what is just”. Moreover, the only legitimate actor in the international arena is the State, not the minority. Therefore, given the fact that secession demands, especially peaceful ones, are often regarded as domestic affairs, minorities tend to be at the mercy of their own parent state. This has important implications since in the eyes of the parent State or the majority group, these kinds of demands are easily labelled as an unfair claim or even a “vanity secession”.[8]

Furthermore, in the absence of a clear “just” ground to claim external self-determination (i.e. human right violations, forceful annexation, breach of self-government agreements, absence of internal self-determination…) this kind of approach might be undemocratic when taken at face value. In a hypothetical case in which a territorial minority in a given federal unit has 90% support for secession but the parent State refuses to grant any legal path or agreement regarding this demand, there would be no legitimacy to unilaterally secede, since there is an absence of a “just cause”. Democratic support in itself cannot be claimed as a ground for unilateral secession in this approach. How can consent be a criterion that is absent from a theory of self-determination?

Real world cases, however, are more complicated. Normally the “just cause” is contested at parent State level and at the minority internal level; while in the international arena, such conflicts can remain a domestic issue for a long time (Coggins 2014). Moreover, there is (obviously) a correlation between injustice or perceived injustice and support for secessionism. In liberal democracies, support for secession rarely achieves overwhelming majorities (Griffiths 2016), but if it exists for a sustained period of time it can be a proxy for malfunctions (and at least perceived/real injustices) in a political system[9].


Catalan Self-determination

Recent events in Catalonia are an example of these political tensions (Cuadras-Morató, 2016). The 2010 Constitutional Court decision on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and the recentralisation policies led by the conservative (PP) Government resulted in Catalan political forces developing plans for external self-determination (referendum) and secession (an independent Catalan Republic). Between 2012 and 2015, the central Government, Parliament and courts repeatedly rejected laws and legislative initiatives calling for a referendum on independence or self-government (Gagnon and Sanjaume-Calvet 2016).

In the Catalan regional elections on September 27, 2015, the pro-secession parties achieved 47.74% of the vote. On 1 October 2017, the Catalan authorities organised a unilateral secession referendum. The turnout was around 43% and the Yes vote obtained 90% support. The Catalan Government claimed a secessionist victory and declared independence in two sessions in the Catalan Parliament on 10 and 27 October. The parties that were against independence had called on their supporters to boycott the referendum and did not take part in it. In addition, the Spanish police forces forcefully cracked down on it, causing more than a thousand injuries. Criminal courts and prosecutors charged the entire Catalan Government, several independence leaders, 700 mayors and members of civil society with accusations of sedition and rebellion (these are criminal charges). Two civil society leaders, the Catalan Vice-president and the Catalan Home Affairs Minister remain in pre-trial detention, while the Catalan President and four regional ministers are currently exiled in Brussels. The Spanish Government imposed direct rule over the Catalan region and called for new regional elections. These repressive strategies, far from demobilising secessionism, seem to have had a “double” boomerang effect against the Spanish Government. First, the elections showed solid support for the secessionist forces in Catalonia. In spite of repressive measures and having its leaders imprisoned (or in Brussels), pro-independence parties obtained 47.5% of the vote share and 70 out of 135 seats in the parliament. Second, the most voted party was Ciudadanos (Citizens Party), an anti-secessionist party that obtained 36 seats and a 25.4% vote share, while the ruling party in Central Government and currently the majoritarian force in the rest of Spain, the PP, only won 4 seats and 4.2% of the vote share.

The events in Catalonia show the difficulties faced both by federal governments and by legal or moral theories on secessionism and federalism. The Spanish executive led by Mariano Rajoy, and the main state-wide parties (PP, PSOE, Cs) reject both the right to hold a referendum in Catalonia and/or the existence of a “just cause”. On the one hand, their discourse is based on the Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the 1978 Constitution, stating the existence of a unique sovereignty and framing a self-determination referendum as unconstitutional. On the other hand, the fact is that state-wide parties appoint the central State institutions (including judges) and hold a qualified majority both in Congress and the Senate, effectively blocking any constitutional reform[10].

The Spanish authorities’ reaction to Catalan demands can be defined as a “prohibitionist regime” that can easily turn into a trap in a liberal democracy. Pro-independence candidates are allowed to stand in elections, but cannot promise the execution of their political objectives.



All in all, plurinational federalism and secession seem to exist together in marriage, albeit an unhappy one. Federal relationships are based on pacts. In plurinational contexts, these pacts call for individual but also collective compromises in which a Bodinian conception of sovereignty (as unique and indivisible) has little room. These kinds of conflicts cannot be dealt with in the way that they were 20 or 50 years ago. Minority nations now demand liberal guarantees to safeguard their self-government and insist on the democratic right to express their constitutional views.

It seems urgent that we find both legal and moral paths in order to frame and understand otherness within a given demos (or demoi)[11]. Complex institutional settings must accept their contingency and avoid domination by national groups. However, this does not mean falling into eternal instability. On the contrary, fair mechanisms of power sharing and autonomy can be constructed to prevent break-ups; however, their absence cannot be replaced by the censorship of democratic and liberal rights.


[1] I am grateful to Andrea Romano (Universitat de Barcelona) and Prof. Ferran Requejo (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) for their comments on a first draft of this post.

[2] In this post the words “plurinational” and “multinational” are used as synonymous meaning the existence of multiple nations.

[3] The US Supreme Court famously rejected the right to secede of a State in its ruling Texas vs. White (1869). See: 74 U.S. 700 https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/74/700 [accessed on 6th December 2017]

[4] See: Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217.  https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1643/index.do [accessed on 6th December 2017]

[5] See: An Act to give effect to the requirement for clarity as set out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec Secession Reference S.C. 2000, c. 26. http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-31.8/FullText.html [accessed on 6th December 2017]

[6] See: http://www.gov.scot/About/Government/concordats/Referendum-on-independence [accessed on 6th December 2017]

[7] Article 72 of the USSR constitution affirmed the right of Union republics to feely leave the federation, but in practice there was no law establishing a secession procedure.

[8] This critique has been defined as the “absence of an impartial referee” in these cases. The ICJ has been proposed as a possible candidate to internationally solve this problem since its 2010 opinion on the secession of Kosovo.

[9] The Canadian Supreme Court Opinion on the secession of Quebec in 1998 provided a Solomonic survival guide. A combination of principles was proposed: “democracy, rule of law, federalism and minorities protection” that later on led to the Clarity Act in 2000. Nonetheless, Quebec responded by reaffirming its right to self-determination through the Bill 99, and the French-speaking province has not formally signed the 1982 Constitutional repatriation. In the UK, the 2014 referendum (inspired by the Canadian Clarity Act) returned a clear unionist majority (55%), but instead of defeating the movement for Scottish independence, it fueled the movement (which is strongly pro-EU), which is now reinforced by the UK withdrawal negotiations after the 2016 vote to leave the EU.

[10] See professor Ferran Requejo’s contribution to this project , regarding the Spanish case: http://50shadesoffederalism.com/case-studies/spain-federal-country/

[11] Gagnon (2011) has proposed federalism based on hospitality and habilitation.



Bauböck, Rainer. 2000. «”Why Stay Together? A Pluralist Approach to Secession and Federation”. In Citizenship in Diverse Societies, edited by Will Kymlicka & Rainer Bauböck, 366-94.

Buchanan, Allen E. 2004. Justice, legitimacy, and self-determination: moral foundations for international law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burgess, Michael. 2006. Comparative Federalism: Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge.

Coggins, Bridget. 2014. Power Politics and State Formation in the Twentieth Century: The Dynamics of Recognition. Cambridge University Press.

Cuadras-Morató, Xavier, ed. 2016. Catalonia: A New Independent State in Europe? A Debate on Secession Within the European Union. Routledge.

Elazar, Daniel J. 1987. Exploring federalism. Tuscaloosa (Ala.): University of Alabama Press.

Gagnon, Alain-G. 2011. L’âge des incertitudes: essais sur le fédéralisme et la diversité nationale. Auteurs UQAM. Collection Prisme. S.l.]: Les Presses de l’Université Laval.

Gagnon, Alain-G., and Marc Sanjaume-Calvet. 2016. «Trois grands scénarios pour la Catalogne au XXIe siècle: autonomie, fédéralisme et sécession». En Repenser l’autodétermination interne, Edited by Michel Seymour, 135-74. Editions Themis.

Griffiths, Ryan D. 2016. Age of Secession. Cambridge University Press.

Kymlicka, Will. 2001. «Federalism and Secession: At Home and Abroad». SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 258439. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.

Norman, Wayne 2006. Negotiating nationalism: nation-building, federalism, and secession in the multinational state. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Norman, Wayne, & Dimitrios Karmis. 2005. Theories of Federalism: A Reader. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Patten, Alan. 2014. Equal Recognition: The Moral Foundations of Minority Rights. Princeton University Press.

Pavkovic, Aleksandar, & Peter Radan. 2007. Creating new states: theory and practice of secession. Aldershot, Hampshire, England ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Requejo, Ferran. 2005. Multinational Federalism and Value Pluralism: The Spanish Case. Routledge.

———. 2013. «Plurinational Federalism and Political Theory». in Routledge Handbook of Regionalism & Federalism, Edited by John Loughlin, John Kincaid, and Wilfred Swenden, 1 edition, 34-44. London: Routledge.

Sanjaume-Calvet, Marc. 2016. «The morality of secession: Secessionist and antisecessionist arguments in the Catalan case», In Cuadras-Morató, Xavier, ed. Catalonia: A New Independent State in Europe? A Debate on Secession Within the European Union. Routledge. 82-106.

Seymour, Michel. 2007. «Secession as a Remedial Right». Inquiry 50 (4):395-423.

Stepan, Alfred. 2005. «Federalism and Democracy: Beyond the U.S. Model». En Theories of Federalism: A Reader, Edited by Wayne J. Norman and Dimitrios Karmis, 255-68. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Sunstein, Cass. 1991. «Constitutionalism and Secession». University of Chicago Law Review 58 (2).

Sunstein, Cass R. 2001. «Should Constitutions Protect the Right to Secede? A Reply to Weinstock». Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (3):350-55.

Weinstock, Daniel. 2001. «Constitutionalizing the Right to Secede». Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (2):182-203.


Further Reading

Cuadras-Morató, Xavier, ed. 2016. Catalonia: A New Independent State in Europe? A Debate on Secession Within the European Union. Routledge.

Kraus, Peter and Joan Verges Gifra (ed.) The Catalan Process: Sovereignty, Self-Determination and Democracy in the 21st Century. Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis de l’Autogovern.

Norman, Wayne 2006. Negotiating nationalism: nation-building, federalism, and secession in the multinational state. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pavkovic, Aleksandar, & Peter Radan. 2007. Creating new states: theory and practice of secession. Aldershot, Hampshire, England ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Posted by Marc Sanjaume-Calvet in Diversity management, Federalism and conflict, 0 comments
Is Spain a Federal Country?

Is Spain a Federal Country?


In this contribution we examine the federal characteristics of the Spanish case. Having initiated a process of political decentralisation as an integral pillar of the democratic transition, it is often posited that Spain is a federation, or quasi-federal country. Employing a comparative perspective this article argues that while Spain shares some federal features, many core elements are absent in the Spanish case.

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Posted by Ferran Requejo in Case studies, 0 comments
Federalism and Federation: Putting the Record Straight

Federalism and Federation: Putting the Record Straight


The terms ‘federalism’ and ‘federation’ are well entrenched concepts in the political science literature, yet remain contested because in practice people have different understandings of the terms federal, federalism and federation. In this short piece I set out the importance of definitional clarity when discussing the abovementioned terms. Secondly, I discuss the relationship between liberal democracy and federalism, noting that a number of values that undergird federal political systems equally fit with democratic principles. In the final section, I focus on the some of the misunderstood aspects of federalism, using the British case as an empirical example.

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Posted by Michael Burgess in Theory, 0 comments