Case Studies

A Glimpse of Nepalese Federalism

Abstract

Nepal has a long history of a unitary system in which the discourse of federalism was started by the ‘Moist People War’ (1996-2006); geared up by the United People’s Movement (April 2006); owned by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement/Accord (CPA) signed by the Maoists and the Government of Nepal (24 November 2006); established by the Madhesh Movement (2007); and codified by the Constitution of Nepal (2015) through the Constituent Assembly, ultimately. The Nepalese federalism has even adopted the core principles of republicanism, ethnic diversities, equality and non-discrimination, affirmative action, social inclusion, secularism, decentralization of state power and financial power, distribution of source of revenue, autonomy, self-rule, and shared rule, etc., among others. For this purpose, there are federal, provincial (7), and local levels governments (753) operating; several legal, institutional, procedural, and practical initiatives have been taken by the governments, and while some progress has been made, however, there are several remaining responsibilities yet to be addressed including the ‘traditional unitary mindset’ for localizing and sustaining federalism in the country.

 

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Posted by Yam Bahadur Kisan in Case Studies, 0 comments

Building Trust and Foundations for Fiscal Federalism in Conflict-affected Somalia

Abstract

Somalia is a federal country with established Federal Member States (FMS). In the absence of a finalized constitution, a political settlement over power and resource allocation is lacking, leading to extra-constitutional negotiations.  A nascent federal system with a provisional constitution poses major constraints on the functioning of the government and citizens’ trust.  This includes inter alia the inability to provide services across the jurisdictions, conflict over limited resources, constrained human resources, election disputes, limited understanding of federalism, corruption, and clashes. A political settlement would help Somalia’s stabilization and sustainable development. The current political leaders have created avenues for political negotiations that help reach consensus on contentious issues. These avenues are laying the foundation for political dialogue, leading to compromise on many unresolved issues that are proving successful and a model for post-conflict settings.

 

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Posted by Mohamud Yasin in Case Studies, 0 comments

American State Constitutions as Ordinary Law

Abstract

Americans revere the United States Constitution and the Founders who created it, so they rarely amend the Constitution, and they rely on the United States Supreme Court to elaborate its meaning. But they have a very different relationship to their state constitutions. They regularly amend their state constitutions or replace them altogether, and they have no compunction about jettisoning what the constitutions’ founders created.  When they disagree with how a state court interprets the state constitution, they adopt amendments to overrule the judges or even vote them out of office. This dual constitutionalism encourages a distinctive political practice. Americans treat the U.S. Constitution as a repository of political principles, but they view their state constitutions as a species of ordinary law and use them rather than revere them, including in them provisions that could as easily be put in statutes. This facilitates popular control over government. The result is a system of dual constitutionalism that combines stability at the national level with dynamism at the state level, statements of fundamental principle at the national level with the vigor of popular input at the state level.

 

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Posted by Alan Tarr in Case Studies, 0 comments

Decentralization in Armenia: Local Governance Reform and the Need for Functional Decentralization

Abstract

Armenia has witnessed an impressive amount of local governance reforms, which have established larger, more functional and better financed municipalities. Yet, despite the successes established so far, further reform efforts will be needed. In addition to strengthening the financial capacities of municipalities, it will be vital to ensure that they are also capable of delivering direct services to the citizens. In order to do so, further reforms are needed, which focus on functional and fiscal decentralization. Furthermore, a proper decentralization strategic framework for the next phase of the local governance reform process should be developed by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure (MTAI) in consultation with the municipalities and other stakeholders.

 

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Posted by Astghik Mnatsakanyan, Flavien Felder and Soeren Keil in Case Studies, 0 comments

Monitoring American Federalism: The Overlooked Tool of Sounding the Alarm Interposition

Abstract

One key feature of the U.S. Constitution – the concept of federalism – was unclear when it was introduced, and that lack of clarity threatened the Constitution’s ratification by those who feared the new government would undermine state sovereignty. Proponents of the new governmental framework were questioned about the underlying theory of the Constitution as well as how it would operate in practice, and their explanations produced intense and extended debate over how to monitor federalism.

In their famous defense of the Constitution in The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison described a monitoring role for state legislatures that anticipated the practice of interposition. Although never using the term “interposition” in their essays, Hamilton and Madison responded to opponents of the Constitution by arguing that state legislatures were uniquely situated to be the voice of the people who would sound the alarm if the general government exceeded its rightful authority. What originated as a debate-like response to opponents of ratification eventually took on a life of its own, producing a settled tradition of monitoring federalism by the states that has largely been overlooked and which laid the groundwork for future conversations about constitutional meaning and federalism’s balancing of powers. I explore these themes in Monitoring American Federalism: The History of State Legislative Resistance.

 

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Posted by Christian G. Fritz in Case Studies, 0 comments

México: A Case for the Study of Federal Corporatization

Abstract

With the purpose of projecting México towards the field of international federal comparisons, this text originates from the question: Which factors of federal corporatization are found in the Mexican case? It is important to highlight that the 19th century signified an era of “radical federalism” for México. By contrast, two later phases of federal corporatization have developed, between 1930 and 2000, and after 2018. The stage from 2000 to 2018 was described as a conjunctural federal resurgence, due to the partisan alternation, the growth of decentralized spending and the discussion of specific policies in horizontal forums. With the resurgence of Mexican corporatization, two factors, with different levels of importance, can be confirmed: 1) the hegemonical party, and 2) the constitutional coding of Intergovernmental Relations. However, the 2000-2018 period threw Urban Development to the national-subnational competition. Equally, the collective and individual initiatives of the subnational governments may be understood as federal safeguards.

 

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Posted by Joel Mendoza Ruiz and Joel Mendoza Gómez in Case Studies, 0 comments
Pouring Oil on Iraq’s Fragile Power Sharing Arrangement:  Kurdistan’s Autonomy and the Kurdish Oil Judgment of 2022

Pouring Oil on Iraq’s Fragile Power Sharing Arrangement: Kurdistan’s Autonomy and the Kurdish Oil Judgment of 2022

Abstract

Iraq’s constitution of 2005 was a promising one: it had been accepted in a popular referendum and implemented a federal agenda for the central government and the Kurdistan region. However, a closer look reveals that the constitution-making process was severely flawed. Indeed, some essential features of the federal system are either missing or remain largely undefined. In this short contribution, we expound on the extent to which the constitution essentially provides for a federal structure, and whether it has been properly implemented. Further examination reveals that the absence of federal regions (besides the Kurdistan region), the unclear distribution of rules, as well as the missing bicameral parliament and the law on the Federal Supreme Court, all contribute to the lack of federal practice in Iraq – leading to important anti-federal consequences, such as the 2022 Iraqi Oil Judgment.

 

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Posted by Daan Smeekens, Simon Mazidi and Eva Maria Belser in Case Studies, 0 comments

Cities in the Context of Swiss Federalism

Abstract

Communes embody the diversity of a federal state. Amongst them, cities play an important role in many regards. Various questions arise when looking into cities and city-related issues in Swiss federalism from a legal perspective. Their status is primarily determined by the cantons and thus varies from canton to canton. The Federal legislator partially deals with cities, too. Overall, this leaves us with a fragmented picture of the city as a distinct legal entity. The following article provides a brief overview of elements that position the city in the context of Swiss federalism, starting with its definition, looking at approaches taken in the cantons and at the federal level and linking cities with reform proposals.

 

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Posted by Florian Bergamin in Case Studies, 0 comments

Reconstruction without Reconciliation: The New Battle for a Decentralised Syria

Abstract

The desire for decentralisation has increased across sectarian lines within Syria, as evidenced in studies conducted by ‘The Day After Project’. Irrespective of this, power in Syria remains highly centralised in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his Baath government. This short paper analyses the reasons behind this continued concentration of power, alluding to the security focussed legacy that Hafez al-Assad left in place for his son, and the ability of the Assad regime to utilise foreign actors to bolster his control of the economy in a post-conflict process of authoritarian reconstruction. 

 

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Posted by Nick Coleman in Case Studies, 0 comments

Concessionary Federalism as a Tactical Choice to Facilitate Constitutional Change—A Lesson from India’s Indirect Tax Reforms

Abstract

One of the key questions of research on federalism is to understand the conditions or causal mechanisms under which constitutional change—that reallocates powers between the centre and the states– becomes feasible in federal systems. However, the literature on federalism offers limited guidance on how to persuade subnational states to adopt amendments which seek to diminish their constitutionally assigned powers—especially their tax authority, which is a primordial feature of their institutional empowerment—without violating democratic decorum and federal principles. The case of indirect tax reforms in India assumes significance in this context. It adds important insights to the debate on how best to understand the circumstances under which the proposals to amend the constitutional division of powers enter the political agenda and the conditions under which they fail or are finally adopted.

 

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Posted by Chanchal Kumar Sharma in Case Studies, 0 comments