Case Studies

Voting, Elections and US Federalism: The State Government Perspective

Voting, Elections and US Federalism: The State Government Perspective

Abstract

State governments in the U.S. exercise broad authority over elections and maintain a diverse set of rules regulating the process of registering to vote, casting ballots, and drawing congressional district lines, and even determining in some respects who is eligible to vote.  In this contribution, I highlight the significant discretion that states exercise in making election rules and the range of rules in effect in the 50 states.  I also take note of several ways that the scope of state authority is subject to modification by the Supreme Court and Congress, focusing on some recent and pending Supreme Court cases and congressional acts with the potential to broaden or constrain state authority.

 

Continue reading →

Posted by John Dinan in Case Studies, 0 comments
Voting, Elections and US Federalism: The Federal Government Perspective

Voting, Elections and US Federalism: The Federal Government Perspective

Abstract

This article examines the U.S. Constitution’s treatment of voting and elections and the use that the federal government has made of the powers granted to it by the Constitution.  Because the thirteen states that formed the nation differed in the qualifications they imposed for voting, the Constitution originally avoided setting national qualifications, authorizing persons to vote in federal elections if they could vote for the lower house of their state legislature. Constitutional amendments have established a federal floor on voting qualifications, forbidding discrimination based on race, gender, age, and ability to pay a poll tax. States have largely regulated both their own and federal elections, but the Constitution grants the federal government concurrent authority in this area, and the constitutional amendments have granted it authority to enact “appropriate legislation” to enforce their prohibitions of discrimination.  Congress relied on that authority to adopt the Voting Rights Act of 1965, giving the federal government unprecedented power to supervise state elections and voting regulations.  This power has been circumscribed by Supreme Court rulings in recent years, leading Democrats in Congress to introduce bills to restore that power. Congress has also legislated to facilitate voting more generally, though Republicans have sought instead to restrict voting, claiming that this will combat election fraud. A major piece of legislation, the For the People Act, is currently before Congress, designed to nationalize election regulations and facilitate voting, but it faces strong Republican opposition, and its fate is uncertain.

 

Continue reading →

Posted by Alan Tarr in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Federal Question in Lebanon: Myths and Illusions

The Federal Question in Lebanon: Myths and Illusions

Abstract

The question of federalism in Lebanon dates back to the years prior to the civil war in 1975. In the Taif Agreement of 1989 federalism was rejected in favor of administrative decentralization. Today, the topic of federalism is revived and it is seen by some groups as a solution to all the problems of the country. This article seeks to understand the problems of a possible federal solution for the Lebanese republic.

 

Continue reading →

Posted by Eduardo Wassim Aboultaif in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Forgotten Federalism of Venezuela

The Forgotten Federalism of Venezuela

Abstract

Venezuela has been pursuing decentralization since its independence in 1830. The nation has always followed an Anglo-Saxon federalist model that has been difficult to achieve over the years. Venezuela has had twenty-five Constitutions since 1811, most of which declared the country a federation. National power has always moved like a pendulum swinging between autocratic regimes to decentralized systems. From 1988 to 1998, the nation had a remarkable advance in the ratification of a federalist system. In 1999 after the election of President Hugo Chavez, the country stopped any efforts of decentralization and started a new authoritarian cycle.

Continue reading →

Posted by Maria Fernanda Ortega in Case Studies, 0 comments
Decentralisation and Conflict Resolution in Ukraine: The Way Forward

Decentralisation and Conflict Resolution in Ukraine: The Way Forward

Abstract

In theory, various territorial self-government arrangements (e.g. federalization, decentralization of power) are considered conducive to the resolution of intra-state territorial conflicts. Can such tools also work in the case of a conflict, marked by extensive foreign involvement? To answer this question, we will examine the linkage between the decentralisation reform in Ukraine and conflict resolution in Eastern Ukraine. A particular emphasis will be made on the implications of the local elections 2020 on both the future of the decentralisation reform and the aspired reintegration of currently uncontrolled territories.

Continue reading →

Posted by Maryna Rabinovych in Case Studies, 0 comments
Asymmetric Federalism and Protection of Indigenous Peoples: The Case of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Federalism

Asymmetric Federalism and Protection of Indigenous Peoples: The Case of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Federalism

Abstract

In Malaysia, federalism is not in general designed to deal with the problem of ethnic differences. Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, are, however, exceptions, as their identity largely reflects the indigenous people of those states. Having been admitted to the federation to form Malaysia in 1963, these states have extra constitutional powers and guarantees compared to the other 11 states of Malaysia. However, over the last six decades the autonomy guaranteed to them has been eroded by political interference, and there is a strong resentment of the federal system as it is, based on the federation’s failure, in the eyes of many Sabahans and Sarawakians, to honour the terms of the original agreement, or to respect the land rights and interests of the indigenous people. This paper argues that, despite constitutional safeguards and asymmetric powers, the autonomy of these states has not been protected.

Continue reading →

Posted by Andrew Harding in Case Studies, 0 comments
Towards Recentralisation?: Thailand’s 2014 Coup, Tutelage Democracy and their Effects on Local Government

Towards Recentralisation?: Thailand’s 2014 Coup, Tutelage Democracy and their Effects on Local Government

Abstract

Due to the tenacious rivalry between the royalist-nationalist faction and its pro-liberal counterpart nationwide since 2006, the traditional elites and the military have sought to reinvigorate their political hegemony, especially through the recentralisation scheme under the tutelage democratic regime. However, it appears too hasty to conclude at this stage that hopes for decentralisation in Thailand are fading. A growing public appetite for popular democracy and local self-government which led to mass protests in 2020 seems to keep such hopes alive. Meanwhile, recent problems, notably the persistent air pollution in Chiang Mai and economic fallout exacerbated by the outbreak of Covid-19, further expose the problems pertaining to recentralisation. This article seeks to assess the adverse effects of the 2014 coups and tutelage democracy on Thailand’s decentralisation process as well as how political struggles for liberal democracy nonetheless help preserve hopes for this process.

 

Continue reading →

Posted by Andrew Harding and Rawin Leelapatana in Case Studies, 0 comments
From Shades to Fragments: US Federal Democracy under the Trump Administration

From Shades to Fragments: US Federal Democracy under the Trump Administration

Abstract

The controversies linked to the current US president aside, the Trump administration has faced obstacles in implementing its political programmes. This is unsurprising as governing in the United States is, in general, quite difficult. Reasons for this stem from the separation of powers at national level, but also the complexity of US federalism. The manifold division of powers in federal and democratic government render the US by comparison a rather uncoupled federal democracy. Despite these constitutional default settings, the United States has witnessed many instances and phases of cross-branch and cross-level cooperation. However, in recent decades, both American federalism and democracy have become increasingly wrought with tensions, polarization and political conflicts. In this contribution, I aim to show that the overarching pattern of US federal democracy has developed into one of fragmentation. This pattern has surely been exacerbated under the Trump presidency, but it has long been in the making.

 

Continue reading →

Posted by Jared Sonnicksen in Case Studies, 0 comments
Privatizing Basque Federalism

Privatizing Basque Federalism

Abstract

In an era of global privatization, it is critical to know why and how certain territories disappear and others are transformed and why and how certain territorial assemblages and specific territorialities are more consequential than others with regard to collective welfare and democratization. Democratization is determined, among other things, by particular and local institutional and political workings that concretize the meaning of those key categories such as “nation”, “federation”, “re-distribution”, “equality”, “autonomy”, which articulate not only nationalist, but also democratic practices and discourses. Thus, both the demand for self-determination or for higher self-government in the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC) arises once and again not because BAC is a distinct nationality or ethnicity in the non-political sense of a pre-given cultural unit, but because it is a federal political territory which, due to its political and institutional structures, functioning and contestation, has shaped and most effectively met the needs of its population, managing to uphold the claim to the monopoly of authoritative law-making more successfully than the Spanish state itself.

Continue reading →

Posted by Jule Goikoetxea in Case Studies, 0 comments
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.

 

Continue reading →

Posted by Zemelak Ayitenew Ayele in Case Studies, 0 comments