Germany

Where does financial responsibility lie? Emerging paradigms from a comparison between Germany and Spain

Where does financial responsibility lie? Emerging paradigms from a comparison between Germany and Spain

Abstract

Financial responsibility traces the academic and political debate of any decentralising process. This is even more so in the European context, in which taxes – exclusively set and regulated by the subnational legislator – play a marginal role in subnational financing, though in theory they are the most genuine instrument for making SNGs pay for their decisions. Against this framework, this contribution delves into a selection of case studies (i.e., Germany and Spain) testing the principle of financial responsibility from a comparative and legal perspective. The basic assumption is that the way in which the vertical fiscal gap is addressed influences the degree of financial autonomy (and hence responsibility) of subnational entities. As such, the major issue at stake is the revenue structure of the subnational level of government, with regard to the legal tools and procedures devoted to revenue-sharing, as these elements play a key-role in defining the extent to which SNGs are made financially and politically responsible for their financing.

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Posted by Alice Valdesalici in Theory, 0 comments
Federalism in Germany: The View from Below

Federalism in Germany: The View from Below

Abstract

There is hardly something that could be called “federal spirit” in Germany. Mostly, the German citizens have little knowledge about which jurisdiction is in charge of what. If things do not work well – like schooling in most of the Länder currently – politicians suggest, and citizens ask for centralized solutions. The roots of this apathy towards the federal order can be found in the formation of the German Empire of 1871: The agreement was that the German states (since 1919: Länder) wanted common federal regulations with their consent but the implementation was to remain in their hands. This concept is valid until today. The Basic Law stipulates: “The Länder shall execute federal laws in their own right …” Still today we have a cleavage between the “Prussian” Protest North and East and the Catholic South. This cleavage is underpinned today by an economic cleavage, the South is more prosperous and richer than the North and in particular the East. Therefore, the North and the East has a stronger leaning towards the federal government while the South argues for more independence and mot autonomy for the Länder.

 

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Posted by Wolfgang Renzsch in Case Studies, 0 comments
Intergovernmental Councils and the Stability of Federal Systems

Intergovernmental Councils and the Stability of Federal Systems

Abstract

Intergovernmental councils not only increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public policy-making, they can also contribute to federal stability. Regular meetings of members of governments shape the way federal systems deal with the increasingly interdependent relationship between the governments of a federation. When policy problems cut across jurisdictions, governments’ autonomy is at stake. Looking at examples of major reforms of fiscal policy in Australia, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, this article identifies the conditions under which intergovernmental councils protect governments’ authority, discretion, and resources so as to avoid federal tensions. Federal governments, in particular, have been eager to get involved in many policy areas for which the constituent units are responsible. Hence, the extent to which intergovernmental councils contribute to the stability of today’s federations ultimately depends on their ability to make the federal government agree on joint solutions with the federated entities.

 

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Posted by Johanna Schnabel in Theory, 0 comments
Political Parties: Driving Federal Dynamics, adapting to Federal Structures

Political Parties: Driving Federal Dynamics, adapting to Federal Structures

Abstract

Liberal thinkers and supporters of majoritarian democracy are at odds with each other on the proper role of political parties in federal systems. Parties are seen either as guardians of the federal division of powers or as instruments to transcend federal barriers for the pursuit of uniform public policies. In analytical accounts, scholars have looked at two dimensions of territorial party politics: the level of symmetry in party competition and the degree of vertical integration within party organisations. There are many different ways, in which parties have responded to a multi-level political environment. In a complex two-way mutual interaction, parties have adapted to federal structures while at the same time driving federal dynamics.

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Posted by Klaus Detterbeck in Theory, 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
Joint-decision Making: An Alternative to Centralisation / Decentralisation

Joint-decision Making: An Alternative to Centralisation / Decentralisation

Abstract

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.

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Posted by Dominic Heinz in Theory, 0 comments