Case Studies

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
Northern Ireland: Power-Sharing in Crisis

Northern Ireland: Power-Sharing in Crisis

Abstract

In spite of numerous suspensions in its initial years, nationalist and unionist parties shared power for an uninterrupted 10 years from 2007-17. At the time of writing, however, Northern Ireland finds itself in a seemingly intractable political crisis, produced by both internal and external factors, and the future of power-sharing hangs in the balance. The impasse underlines the need for broad inclusion in power-sharing arrangements, beyond the core ethno-national parties. It further speaks to the importance of continued constructive engagement from external actors, who were central to the conflict and remain central to its resolution.

 

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Posted by Cera Murtagh in Case Studies, Federalism and Conflict, 0 comments
South Africa’s Quest for Power-Sharing

South Africa’s Quest for Power-Sharing

Abstract

In the years of transition from the authoritarian apartheid system to a new constitutional democracy, South Africa has chosen decentralisation to solve its deep-seated economic, political and societal discrepancies. This paper argues that federal principles, enshrined in both the Interim Constitution and the 1996 Constitution, played a key role in the constitutional transition to democracy and strongly contributed to the achievement of the negotiations between the different parties. However, South Africa’s (quasi) federal system is now highly centralized, with a declining autonomy for its constituent units.

 

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Posted by Fabrizio E. Crameri in Case Studies, 0 comments
Solomon Islands: A Federation that Never Was

Solomon Islands: A Federation that Never Was

Abstract

The Solomon Islands has struggled with issues of decentralisation and devolution ever since independence, but so far steered clear of embracing a federal constitution. Aspirations for ‘state government’ were complicated by the arrival of an Australian-led intervention mission over 2003-17, but a federal model also poses acute dilemmas for the country’s political elite. The Solomon Islands has become a state that repeatedly disavows its unitary form of government but so far without enacting any of the many iterations of its draft federal constitution.

 

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Posted by Jon Fraenkel in Case Studies, 0 comments
Unitarization of Federation: A Path to Stability? – The Contemporary Russian Case

Unitarization of Federation: A Path to Stability? – The Contemporary Russian Case

Abstract

Federation and federalism are not equal categories. Sometimes federation is very formal with the absence of federalism, but flowering unitarism. Such form can be a result of the intention to provide more stability and security to the state, but where is the border which ensures the equilibrium in consideration of regional interests and rights and at the same time with paying respect to federal powers?  This contribution analyses the implications of federalism and unitarism in a federal state on issues of stability and security using the example of contemporary Russia. The author reveals two major stages of contemporary federal development in Russia: one with huge decentralization, which led to cracked stability of the federal state at the end of the 20th century, and unitarization of the federation as the next step aiming to stabilize federation as the modern stage. This contribution concludes that what is important to understand is the border, where the level of unitarism is still acceptable in such a type of community in order not to lose control and equilibrium and finally to ensure stability and security.

 

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Posted by Elena A. Kremyanskaya in Case Studies, 0 comments
Federalism in Germany: The View from Below

Federalism in Germany: The View from Below

Abstract

There is hardly something that could be called “federal spirit” in Germany. Mostly, the German citizens have little knowledge about which jurisdiction is in charge of what. If things do not work well – like schooling in most of the Länder currently – politicians suggest, and citizens ask for centralized solutions. The roots of this apathy towards the federal order can be found in the formation of the German Empire of 1871: The agreement was that the German states (since 1919: Länder) wanted common federal regulations with their consent but the implementation was to remain in their hands. This concept is valid until today. The Basic Law stipulates: “The Länder shall execute federal laws in their own right …” Still today we have a cleavage between the “Prussian” Protest North and East and the Catholic South. This cleavage is underpinned today by an economic cleavage, the South is more prosperous and richer than the North and in particular the East. Therefore, the North and the East has a stronger leaning towards the federal government while the South argues for more independence and mot autonomy for the Länder.

 

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Posted by Wolfgang Renzsch in Case Studies, 0 comments
Rebalancing Federal Citizenship in Canada

Rebalancing Federal Citizenship in Canada

Abstract

In multinational federations, tensions around national identities, rights and entitlements, and power-sharing arrangements are endemic and never finally resolved. In Canada, simultaneous constitutional and fiscal crises in the 1990s brought into question the legitimacy of the ‘federal bargain’ at the core of the citizenship regime. The federal government’s response was to introduce a number of institutional, programmatic, fiscal and symbolic reforms that adjusted the delicate balance between national unity and the accommodation of diversity. This pragmatic political vision, replete with certain asymmetries and ambiguities, enabled Canada to rebuild and rebalance its way to its own unique shade of federalism.

 

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Posted by James Bickerton in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Three Shades of American Federalism

The Three Shades of American Federalism

Abstract

Donald Trump is a transgressive president elected by a minority of voters but elevated to the White House by a quintessential institution of American federalism, the Electoral College. However, the federal system otherwise poses significant barriers to transgressive behaviour because it is a complex mix of dualism, intergovernmental cooperation, and national coercion. The system’s constitutional dualism allows space for autonomous state policy-making. The system’s rule-bound and bureaucratic structures of intergovernmental policy implementation limit the ability of one president to substantially alter this cooperative dimension of the system. The long-run trend, though, is toward greater centralization and federal government coercion of state and local governments.

 

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Posted by John Kincaid in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Federalism Debates in Nepal and Myanmar: From Ethnic Conflict to Secession-risk Management

The Federalism Debates in Nepal and Myanmar: From Ethnic Conflict to Secession-risk Management

Abstract

Nepal and Myanmar both committed to establishing federalism in response to ethnic conflict and a secession risk. However, while Nepal has successfully enacted a federal constitution following a participatory process, Myanmar’s elite-based negotiations have slowed considerably. The management of the secession risk is the key issue pervading the federalism debates in these countries. This is especially manifest in decisions about how and where to draw provincial boundaries (ethnic versus territorial federalism) and the division of powers. Such design features can help overcome the perception within Myanmar’s military that federalism will lead to secession, which remains a significant hurdle.

 

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Posted by Michael G Breen in Case Studies, 0 comments