Case Studies

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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Posted by Zemelak Ayitenew Ayele in Case Studies, 0 comments
Rethinking Federalism in the Philippines

Rethinking Federalism in the Philippines

Abstract

The Philippines has been on a continuing decentralisation project since independence in 1946. The country’s 1987 Constitution has a local autonomy prescription which sets the standard of “maximum decentralization, short of federalization”. However, the present decentralisation system established by the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 has failed to meet this constitutional benchmark. Proposals to shift to a federal system remain a part of this ongoing decentralisation mission, but its perceived connection to constitutional change has effectively stymied the federalism advocacy because Filipinos do not support constitutional reform. Nevertheless, the goal to deepen decentralisation in the Philippines still stands. Hence, amending or replacing the LGC to reflect the constitutional standard of “maximum decentralization, short of federalization” must still be pursued. The rethinking of federalism as being part of a menu of decentralisation arrangements is an alternative approach to consider. Corollary to this, a deliberate resort to federalism studies can significantly assist legislative efforts to reach the “maximum decentralization” standard.

 

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Posted by Michael Henry Yusingco in Case Studies, 0 comments
Burundi: Power-sharing (Dis)agreements

Burundi: Power-sharing (Dis)agreements

Abstract

Ahead of the 2020 elections in Burundi, this contribution reviews the tumultuous trajectory of power-sharing in the country. From the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000, power-sharing remained the object of persistent contestation between political rivals, leading to continuous transformations in both the institutions and the practice of power-sharing in the country. This paper traces these power-struggles and institutional evolutions throughout three periods during which Burundian power-sharing was negotiated (1998-2005), contested (2005-2015), and reshaped (2015-2020). The conclusion highlights some implications of this year’s elections for the future of power-sharing in Burundi.

 

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Posted by Alexandre W. Raffoul and Réginas Ndayiragije in Case Studies, 0 comments