Case Studies

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
The Austrian Federation in Comparison

The Austrian Federation in Comparison

Abstract

Among international rankings, Austria is often considered as a rather centralized country given that the Federal Constitution does not offer many legislative competences for the Länder (federal units). After an overview of key features of Austrian federalism as laid down in the Federal Constitution, this entry seeks to compare demographic facts of Austrian federalism with those of decentralized unitary systems. Further, recent issues of the country’s political discourse are outlined.  

 

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Posted by Peter Bußjäger and Mirella Johler in Case Studies, 0 comments
Federalism in Iraq: A Liberal Idea in an Illiberal Place

Federalism in Iraq: A Liberal Idea in an Illiberal Place

Abstract

The introduction of federalism in Iraq was meant to address the lingering ethnic conflict between Kurds and Arabs and prevent an imminent breakup of the country.  Federalism was supposed to offer the Kurds a form of local self-determination by setting up a bulwark against the Arab policy of assimilation and other forms of discrimination.  The paper presents the Iraqi brand of federalism and attempts to explain its several shortcomings by testing the argument stemming from the paper’s title.

We provide enough evidence to prove that Iraqi federalism rests mainly on imposed institutions with no supportive local political traditions and culture. Acute nationalist feelings among the Kurds, a result of historically unrealized statehood, constitute an important part of the problem, too.

 

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Posted by Alex Danilovich in Case Studies, 0 comments
Northern Ireland and the Antimonies of Unionism

Northern Ireland and the Antimonies of Unionism

Abstract

Unionism swept back to power in the United Kingdom in December 2019 in a new Conservative government whose Prime Minister is also Minister for the Union. It committed itself to swift withdrawal from the European Union, with the likely effect of weakening the Union with Scotland and with Northern Ireland. Meanwhile unionism in Northern Ireland – in the form of the Democratic Unionist Party – has already undermined the union by its support for – and eventual betrayal by – hard-line British Conservatism. Why unionisms – which promise progressive and flexible politics – have such effects is the topic of this article. (This is the theme of a Special Issue of Irish Political Studies, edited by Jennifer Todd and Dawn Walsh, to be published in 2020. See Todd 2019).

 

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Posted by Jennifer Todd in Case Studies, 0 comments
Catalonia and Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: Time for a Federal Solution?

Catalonia and Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: Time for a Federal Solution?

Abstract

This contribution describes how a Catalan bid for more autonomy and for national recognition miscarried in 2010 after long negotiations. In this process, the major part of Catalan nationalism turned towards independence. We follow the different steps that led to the show-down in October 2017, with the failed declaration of independence and the temporary suspension of Catalan autonomy. New elections in Catalonia and in Spain have been of no use to get out of the quandary. While federal solutions if combined with a constitutional recognition of Spain’s plurinational character might be highly advisable to accommodate minority nations like Catalonia and to combine democracy and constitutionalism, fragmented party systems and minority governments on both sides make the necessary constitutional amendments even more improbable than ever.

 

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Posted by Klaus-Jürgen Nagel in Case Studies, Diversity Management, 0 comments