Federations

Federations: The Political Dynamics of Cooperation

CHAD RECTOR
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt7zhzq
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Federations
    Book Description:

    Why would states ever give up their independence to join federations? While federation can provide more wealth or security than self-sufficiency, states can in principle get those benefits more easily by cooperating through international organizations such as alliances or customs unions.

    Chad Rector develops a new theory that states federate when their leaders expect benefits from closer military or economic cooperation but also expect that cooperation via an international organization would put some of the states in a vulnerable position, open to extortion from their erstwhile partners. The potentially vulnerable states hold out, refusing to join alliances or customs unions, and only agreeing to military and economic cooperation under a federal constitution.

    Rector examines several historical cases: the making of a federal Australia and the eventual exclusion of New Zealand from the union, the decisions made within Buenos Aires and Prussia to build Argentina and Germany largely through federal contracts rather than conquests, and the failures of postindependence unions in East Africa and the Caribbean.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5917-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
    C.R.
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    Half the world’s people live in federations made up of states that at one time had a choice between remaining independent countries and merging into federal unions, and some scholars speculate that the European Union (Gillingham 2006) or even the world as a whole (Rodrik 2000; Wendt 2003; Deudney 2006) may eventually become constitutional federations.¹ Yet political scientists have only rarely asked why states form federations—and studies that do consider federation nearly always conclude that states choose it because they can be wealthier or more secure if they govern larger territories. States can get the benefits of size in...

  5. 1 COOPERATION AND COMMITMENT
    (pp. 16-31)

    States have more than one way to work together, so how can we explain any one particular form of cooperation? I present my theory in two steps. This chapter shows conditions in which states cannot agree on cooperation that could be mutually beneficial because they face a commitment problem in dividing the gains from cooperation. Chapter 2 shows how federal institutions can resolve this particular problem. Taken together, these chapters argue that there are instances in which states agree to form a federation not just despite their inability to agree to cooperate through an international organization or ad hoc arrangement...

  6. 2 CONTRIVED SYMMETRY THROUGH INTERNATIONAL AND FEDERAL INSTITUTIONS
    (pp. 32-62)

    States sometimes forgo opportunities for mutual gain when cooperation would cause them to be unequally vulnerable in their relationship-specific investments. With a partner able to exploit a state’s vulnerability by renegotiating the terms of cooperation once it has begun, that vulnerable state can lose more through extortion than it can gain by cooperation. This lack of symmetry leaves both vulnerable and nonvulnerable states worse off, since they miss getting the gains possible from military or economic integration. Both can therefore be better off if there is some way for them to make their outside options, and therefore their bargaining leverage,...

  7. 3 AUSTRALIA’S EXPERIMENTS WITH INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION AND FEDERATION
    (pp. 63-83)

    Why is Australia one country instead of six? Why are Australia and New Zealand two different countries? Although in retrospect Australia and New Zealand seem to have logical boundaries, there was nothing inevitable about them at the start. The six states that today form the Australian federation were, de facto, separate countries from the 1850s until they federated in 1901. The inability of New South Wales and Victoria, over many rounds of failed negotiations in the 1870s and 1880s, to reach an agreement on a customs union via an international organization but then the success with which they negotiated a...

  8. 4 POLITICAL IDENTITY IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
    (pp. 84-103)

    Previously, I argued that my theory can account for the union of the Australian states without New Zealand, and in doing so I addressed an alternative explanation relating to demands for common security. Another potential alternative explanation for political union relates to social identity. Some Australian historians have recently argued that the Australian federation formed out of a shared sense of identity, and some international relations scholars have recently argued that shifts in political identity can lead to national integration or disintegration.

    This alternative argument posits that states merge when citizens first imagine themselves to be part of a group...

  9. 5 COERCION AND UNION IN ARGENTINA AND GERMANY
    (pp. 104-133)

    Most of the paradigmatic cases of federation, including Australia’s, did not involve threats of violence, but in some cases coercion did play a role, as in the unifications of Argentina and Germany. From the 1820s through the 1860s, Buenos Aires tried using a combination of threats and assurances to compel three states (the litoral states of the former Spanish Viceroyalty) to join in an economic and military union. From the 1850s through the early 1870s, Prussia similarly tried to maneuver several smaller, German-speaking neighbors into joining it. Both Buenos Aires and Prussia had commitment problems—their smaller neighbors were fearful...

  10. 6 THE UNRAVELING OF EAST AFRICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
    (pp. 134-160)

    In the decade leading up to decolonization in East Africa and the Caribbean, nationalist leaders were unanimous and vocal in their support for forming regional federations. Proposed constitutions were drawn up; parties won elections on the basis of their support for political integration; and constitutional drafting conventions were held. In each region, the large state that would have benefited from integration without itself becoming economically tied to regional partners—Kenya and Jamaica—as well as the other states that would have become more dependent on cooperation, all seemed willing in principle to commit to ambitious timetables for ratification. Yet despite...

  11. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 161-180)

    Federations are rooted in fear and mistrust. Unequal outside options from an alliance or customs union can lead some states to fear exploitation by their partners. Federal unions are born when vulnerable states demand political commitments, up front, from their potential partners as the price of their cooperation.

    Since the 1964 publication of William Riker’s book Federalism: Origin, Operation, Significance, the leading theory of federal origins has been that states merge when they have common security interests. The literature since Riker has, likewise, focused on the gains that states can achieve by joining together (Alesina and Spolaore 2003). This focus...

  12. REFERENCES
    (pp. 181-204)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 205-208)