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Michael C. LaBelle
Michael C. LaBelle
Michael C. LaBelle
This chapter briefly takes stock of the research literature on de/centralization in federations and identifies avenues for future research. It focuses on four broad domains: conceptualization, theorization, methodology and empirics. It highlights that important questions within these four domains remain unsettled or have attracted little scholarly effort. There is thus considerable scope for further research, along three lines in particular: (a) developing a conceptual common ground; (b) theorizing the effects that different forms and degrees of de/centralization have on important economic and political outcomes; and (c) refining how de/centralization is measured. As scholars take forward the study of de/centralization in federations, the chapter calls on them to integrate their research agendas as fully as possible with the wider research agendas in political science so as to benefit from cross-fertilization between sub-fields.
This chapter explores existing and emerging terrains for research at the intersection of federalism and constitutionalism. It divides the subject matter between the various ways in which federalism and constitutionalism are linked and the additional dimensions presented by the interpretation of federal constitutions. In each case, it argues that, while there are some good country studies, there is much more to be done to understand theory, principle and practice in comparative terms. The task is made more urgent by two factors. The first is the increased interest in multilevel government as a potential solution to a range of problems presented by the unitary state. The second is the inadequacy of contemporary understanding of how federation by disaggregation can best be designed and given effect. Research on these issues is complicated by the need to grapple comparatively with constitutional experience on a global scale.
Federalism and courts intersect in two important ways. The first concerns court adjudication of constitutional disputes about the structure and composition of federal and state institutions of government and the distributions of power between them. The second concerns the design of court systems within federations, with particular emphasis on their organizational features and allocated jurisdictions at federal and state levels. This chapter reviews the ways in which courts understand the constitutional presuppositions of particular federations, and how those presuppositions shape court interpretations of the governing institutions and distributions of power within federations. The chapter shows how such interpretations bear on the degree of centralization and decentralization within federations and how they can either safeguard or undermine the integrity of each federal system of government. Methodological issues associated with the comparative study of courts in federations are also discussed, and key questions for further inquiry are identified.
Alain-G. Gagnon and Arjun Tremblay
The chapter establishes a new research agenda for studying federalism and diversity which centres on recognition and empowerment of national and ethnic minorities. It argues that we must now ask and answer three central questions: (1) how do deeply diverse democracies arrive at or transition to a model of federalism that accurately reflects and represents ethnic and/or national differences? (2) How can we assess the quality of multinational and multiethnic federalism? (3) How can democracies recognize and accommodate national and ethnic diversity as well as other collective identities? The chapter shows that addressing these questions is an important endeavour. It also hopes to show that answering these questions is a necessary step forward in realizing federal democracy’s full potential, particularly at a time when the virtues of recognizing diversity are being questioned in many long-standing liberal democracies.
The last decade has witnessed both a radicalization and a moderation of nationalist movements in federal or decentralized liberal-democracies. While nationalist movements in Scotland and Catalonia have made a strong push for secession, no similar change has occurred in Flanders (where secessionist nationalism has remained marginal) or in Québec (where it has declined). These developments raise the question of the causes for the radicalization and moderation of nationalism. This chapter argues that the degree of autonomy afforded to minority national communities by federal arrangements is not that helpful for explaining transformation in the claims of nationalist movements. Rather, the chapter suggests considering the dynamism of these arrangements. It develops the argument that static federal systems are more likely to trigger strong secessionist claims than dynamic ones. Indeed, federal arrangements viewed as open to making ongoing adjustments in response to nationalist claims provide disincentives to the articulation of radical self-determination demands.