Secession

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
Sri Lanka: Devolution, Secession and Current Debates on the “F” Word

Sri Lanka: Devolution, Secession and Current Debates on the “F” Word

Abstract

While in constitutional theory, a unitary state is one in which there is only one ultimate source of state power, for many Sri Lankans ‘unitary’ means ‘oneness’ or ‘one country’. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution introduced limited devolution, but successive governments have been taking back powers to the Centre using all conceivable means. Sinhala nationalists who oppose any devolution equate devolution with federalism and have raised the bogey that more devolution would necessarily result in secession. On the other hand, the Tamil fear is that devolution within a unitary state would lead to rule of the majority and centralization of power. This short contribution examines the development of decentralisation in the context of Sri Lanka, including the recent interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly.

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Posted by Jayampathy Wickramaratne in Case Studies, 0 comments
A Federation like no other: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

A Federation like no other: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Abstract

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a complex state composed of two entities: the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska, and one independent unit – Brčko District, as well as three constituent peoples: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. The Constitution does not mention the word federation, thus it is not formally defined whether BiH has a federal or confederal character. Strengthened competences of the state and a clear direction towards greater empowerment of the state level institutions suggest a movement from a confederation to a federation. However, while there is no agreement on what exactly Bosnia is, what is even more alarming is the abuse of the concept of federalism by Bosnian elites. Serbs consciously misinterpret federalism to underline their demand for more autonomy and, ultimately, secession. Croats see federalism as a tool to argue for a third entity, while Bosniaks promote the idea of regionalism instead. Thus, despite the fact that it has been twenty years since the first post-war elections, nothing has really changed; Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a highly unbalanced and badly constructed federation.

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Posted by Aleksandra Zdeb in Case Studies, 0 comments
Secession and Federalism: A Chiaroscuro

Secession and Federalism: A Chiaroscuro

Abstract

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.

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Posted by Marc Sanjaume-Calvet in Diversity Management, 0 comments
Federalism: A Tool for Conflict Resolution?

Federalism: A Tool for Conflict Resolution?

Abstract

Federalism has become increasingly used as a tool of conflict resolution in the post-Cold War era. This contribution discusses the rationale in using federalism as a tool of peace-building, conflict resolution and democratisation in deeply divided, ethnically heterogeneous and post-conflict societies. In doing so, it is highlighted how federalism can serve as an acceptable and viable solution for different ethnic groups because of its emphasis on autonomy and territorial integrity. The contribution also demonstrates that federalism is not able to solve all problems in ethnically heterogeneous societies and that further research is needed in order to understand the conditions in which federalism can be used to end conflict and bring peace and democracy to divided countries.

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Posted by Paul Anderson and Soeren Keil in Federalism and Conflict, 0 comments