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Comparative Politics 1 POL 1010 Lecture 8 2 nd December 2004, 3 -4 pm Federalism and Centre-Periphery Relations
POL 1010 Class Admin • 9 th December 2004 lecture postponed until New Year • Lectures re-commence Thursday 13 th January 2005
Lecture Plan Introduction: Federalism Key Concepts in Federalism The Federal Model The Roots Federal Model The Basic Principles of the Classical Federal Model Issues with the Classical Model Federalism as a ‘Half-Way House’ The Allocation of Constituent Power Fields of Authority Comparing Federal and Unitary Systems
Introduction: Federalism 20 stable federal systems of government Group into 5 blocs: 1. Atlantic - USA, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Austria 2. Eastern Europe - Russia 3. Latin America - Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina 4. Asia and Middle East - India, Malaysia, UAE 5. Africa - Nigeria Two of the three most populated countries in the world are federal – India and the USA
Key Concepts in Federalism: Centralisation vs. Decentralisation Centre vs. Periphery There are three main forms of territorial organisation: • Unitary state • Confederation • Federal state
Key Concepts in Federalism: Unitary vs. Confederal Systems Unitary: 1. only the central government is legally independent 2. all those other levels of government and authorities are subordinate to that. 3. this is a centralised system – see for example the UK, France Confederacy: 1. this system has generally proved unsustainable 2. key advocate was French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in the 19 th century 3. it represents the loosest and most decentralised type of political union – all sovereign power is vested in peripheral bodies
The Federal Model • Federalism is widely regarded as being the pre-eminent means of achieving decentralisation within a state • Also used as the means of unifying states without destroying their identity – ‘unity within diversity’ (Blondel, 1995: 234) Blondel (1995) argues that we need to define Federalism through logical reasoning, but also by empirical practice
The Roots Federal Model Roots: 19 th century as the American model of government = the classical model Early debates surrounding federalism – on which institutional arrangements would best achieve a polity which is truly federal? – i. e. achieve the highest level of decentralisation
The Roots Federal Model USA classical federalism: The Federalist Papers (1787) ‘ambition must be made to counteract ambition’ This is the idea that diffusing government power through a federalist system would be the best way to protect liberties
The Basic Principles of the Classical Federal Model Two key elements of federal government: • Decentralisation • National unity The authorities which make the rules in these systems should be divided into two sets of authorities which are independent of one another within their own sphere. This principle is a fundamental to federalism. These two sets of authorities are: • Federal (national) government located at the centre • State (regional) government located at the periphery • Though other levels of government can exist
Issues with the Classical Model of Federalism 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. model offers no exact guidance on the division of the fields of decision-making model states that two levels of government should be independent model makes clear that federalism is not functional model states that there can be no power sharing between the two units of government model states that each of the two levels should be completely independent in their appointment of decision -makers models states that the administrative units must be distinct from each other model of classical federalism offers no key guidance as to who should have the ‘constituent’ power to decide how powers are allocated between the two authorities Source: Blondel, 1995
Federalism as a ‘Half-Way House’ Thus, on two issues no guidance is given – • who has the power to decide how powers are allocated between the two levels of • fields of decision-making authorities Two results: This openness – indicates that federalism as a half-way house between unitary and confederal systems of government Also means – variation in how federal systems interpret these two aspects
The Allocation of Constituent Power I • who decides how much power each of the two levels of government should actually have in the federalist system? • the model tells us that central and units should be independent of each other – neither will be able to destroy the other • result of this if translated into reality = deadlock
The Allocation of Constituent Power II Three mechanisms to break the deadlock: 1. Rigid constitution and make constitutional change difficult 2. Key role for a supreme court – to supervise the two levels of government 3. Key role for a second chamber
Fields of Authority I In addition to these problems of who distributes the power – is the issue of how the policy fields are allocated to each of the two main levels of the federalist state Much of the answer to this issue in federalist countries depends upon how precise the constitution is or is not
Fields of Authority II There are two main scenarios on this issue of policy competence: Scenario 1: vague constitution = the scope for decentralisation is large Scenario 2: precise constitution on policy distribution – still a problem with regard to what happens in new policy fields Key dynamic centralisation vs. decentralisation
Comparing Federal and Unitary Systems We have to question how ‘independent’ each of these two levels are from each other? Role of central government – if dominant then how ‘federal’ are federal states? Wheare, 1963 talks about the idea of ‘quasifederal systems’
Comparing Federal and Unitary Systems I Unitary = centralised – more control at one level Decentralisation is costly – extra tiers of government must be paid for, can tend toward being overly bureaucratic etc. Thus – usually only relatively well-off countries that can afford to be federal: a disproportionate amount of federal states are from the western liberal democracies – 2/5 (these countries constitute of 12. 5% of the world’s countries (Blondel, 1995: 239).
Comparing Federal and Unitary Systems II Shared features: 1. component bodies (i. e. the units of government) are protected 2. appointment of the rule-makers – can be controlled by central government 3. rise of regionalism and devolution in unitary states – power is more diffuse in ‘unitary’ states Are unitary and federal system moving toward each other?
Comparing Federal and Unitary Systems III Jean Blondel: Blondel argues that on one side is moving more than the other – federal moving more toward the centralised and unitary system • Federal states beginning to look more like partnerships between the two level of government – whereby the activities of the component units are supervised by the centre. • This move to partnership = flouts the original principles of federalism – a basic division between the two levels of authority, two distinct power structures.
Bibliography Blondel, J. (1995) Comparative Government: An Introduction Pearson. Burgess, M. (1986) Federalism and Federation London: Croom Helm. Hamilton, J. , Jay, J. , and Madison, J. [1787 -1789] (1961) The Federalist Papers New York, NY: New American Library. Livingston, W. S. (1956) Federalism and Constitutional Change Greenwood. Wheare, K. C. (1963) Federal Government London: Oxford University Press. Proudhon, P-J.  (1970) The Federal Principle