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Diversity and Unity in Federal Countries

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 450
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    Diversity and Unity in Federal Countries
    Book Description:

    In Diversity and Unity in Federal Countries, leading scholars and practitioners analyse the current political, socio-economic, spatial, and cultural diversity in the countries under consideration before delving into the role that social, historical, and political factors have had in shaping the balance of diversity and unity. The authors assess the value placed on diversity by examining whether present institutional arrangements and public policies restrict or enhance diversity and address the future challenges of balancing diversity and unity in an increasingly populated and mobile world.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9087-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Diversity and Unity in Comparative Perspective
    (pp. 3-15)

    Diversity is one of the most contested issues in domestic and international politics. Debates about ethnic, national, linguistic, religious, and economic diversity and its accommodation in viable and legitimate polities feature prominently in discussions among academics and practitioners of comparative politics, conflict-resolution studies, political sociology, and political theory. In this respect, several types of diversity are relevant for our theme on diversity and unity in federal systems.¹

    First, there is diversity pertaining to cultural, ideological, racial, religious, and linguistic predispositions. When these are concentrated territorially, they may be more difficult to manage institutionally, and they are the ones for which...

  5. Australia
    (pp. 17-46)

    The Commonwealth of Australia is a federation of six constituent states and two self-governing mainland territories.¹ With an area of almost 7.7 million square kilometres, Australia is the world’s sixth largest country and the only nation-state occupying an entire continent.² However, the continent is sparsely populated, and vast tracts of desert lands in the interior are virtually uninhabitable. More than 83 percent of the population of approximately 21 million lives within 50 kilometres of the coastline, concentrated mostly along the eastern, southeastern, and southwestern seaboard. Australia is also one of the most highly urbanized countries in the world, with more...

  6. Kingdom of Belgium
    (pp. 48-74)

    Belgian society is characterized by three main cleavages: a socioeconomic, a philosophical-ideological, and a linguistic divide. It is essentially the latter that has shaped Belgian federalism and that is strongly reflected in the institutional arrangements and the various public policies of the country.

    The population of Belgium was 10,584,534 in 2008. Its territory covers an area of 32,528 square kilometres and the GDP per capita is US$37,500. The population is divided among three linguistic groups. A little over 6 million Dutch-speakers live in the northern part of the country in the Flemish Region and in the Brussels-Capital Region, where they...

  7. Brazil
    (pp. 76-108)

    Brazil is a country of continental size. It is home to a large and heterogeneous population comprising mainly autochthonous peoples, blacks brought as slaves from Africa, and European immigrants. The vast majority of the people speak Portuguese, the notable exceptions being some isolated Aboriginal tribes. Therefore, issues related to ethnic and linguistic differences are not an important historical source of societal cleavages. Such issues are not relevant to the theme of diversity and unity under Brazil’s federal system.

    The challenges of federal governance in Brazil are more closely related to problems of access to economic resources, public policies, and citizenship...

  8. Canada
    (pp. 110-138)

    Canada and the Burden of Unity, Canada in Question, Mosaic Madness, Penser la nation québécoise, Reconciling the Solitudes/Rapprocher les solitudes, and even Must Canada Fail? These six books, published since the 1970s, demonstrate that balancing unity and diversity has preoccupied Canadians throughout their history and continues to do so today. Yet by international standards, Canada must be considered a success. Canada is one of the world’s oldest and most stable federations. It has managed to respond to several dimensions of diversity simultaneously. It is a multinational country that has attempted to respond to Quebec’s sense of nationhood and to Aboriginal...

  9. Ethiopia
    (pp. 140-166)

    Ethiopia introduced a federal system in 1995 after four years of transition following the overthrow of the country’s military junta in May 1991 and Mengistu Haile Mariam’s flight to asylum in Zimbabwe. Power and resources had been concentrated at the centre for decades, and the central government’s failed policy of attempting to assimilate various groups into a narrowly defined set of values of the state (the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) had caused political instability and seventeen years of civil war. Creation of the federal system was meant to end cycles of political crises by decentralizing power and resources and...

  10. Federal Republic of Germany
    (pp. 168-199)

    Following the Second World War, Germany was divided into four occupation zones from 1945 to 1949. In May 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in what had been the occupation zones of the Western Allied Powers. The Cold War confrontation between the Soviet Union and the West led to the division of Germany. In East Germany, a communist and centralist state, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), came into existence in October 1949. Berlin, Germany’s capital, remained under Allied control. Germany was reunited in 1990 and is now a federal state with sixteen constituent units, the Länder, six of...

  11. Republic of India
    (pp. 201-226)

    India is home to a pluricultural civilization whose polity is organized around the founding belief of unity in diversity. The idea of pluralism survived a traumatic partition in 1947, which created India and Pakistan, and went on to provide the basis for the constitutional framework within which peoples having multiple identities were to be accommodated within an Indian union, with statutory guarantees for safeguarding their rights as individuals and as groups.¹ The framers of the Constitution were acutely aware of the vast range of diversity for which they had to construct an encompassing frame, allowing adequate expression for diversity while...

  12. Nigeria
    (pp. 228-257)

    Nigeria’s size, oil wealth, and federal structure stand out in Africa. With an official population of 140 million (according to the 2006 census), Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the world’s fifth most populated federation (after India, the United States, Brazil, and Russia). It is Africa’s biggest oil producer, and one of the continent’s four largest economies, although the country’s GDP per capita is only about US$1,401, and more than half of its population lives on less than US$1 per day.1 Nigeria is Africa’s most established federation, having instituted a three-region federation in 1954 to hold together its three...

  13. Russian Federation
    (pp. 259-287)

    The various guises assumed by federalism in Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 demonstrate that the survival of a federation, particularly an ethnic one, depends substantially on the functioning of federal political parties, effective conflict-regulation devices, and democratic institutions. The Russian case shows that authoritarian regression and de-federalization are mutually supportive. Russia’s presidential system, with its extreme concentration of unchecked powers in the presidency, and its horizontally and vertically deficient division of powers are fundamentally opposed to federal principles. Former President Vladimir Putin’s de-federalization policy also demonstrates that the less the centre’s hegemonic discourse supports a...

  14. Kingdom of Spain
    (pp. 289-319)

    The so-called “Autonomic State” (Estado Autonómico or Estado de las Autonomías) is a state made up of Comunidades Autónomas or Autonomous Communities (ACS). This autonomic state was envisaged in Spain’s 1978 democratic Constitution, following a general cross-party political and social consensus reached after the demise of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. As a consequence, it has implied the creation and accommodation of seventeen regions and nationalities by way of an extensive decentralization of powers and responsibilities and constitutional recognition of regional self-rule and cultural diversity. The existence of different languages, political traditions, distinct civil-law traditions, peculiar ways of financing governments in...

  15. Swiss Confederation
    (pp. 321-348)

    Like the United States, the Swiss federation was created from the bottom up, based on a covenant (foedus) uniting formerly independent states. However, while the framers of the United States Constitution chose federalism mainly to strengthen local democracy and limit government powers with a view to protecting individual liberty, Swiss federalism was designed primarily to accommodate communal diversity and to provide for peaceful management of deeply rooted conflicts among adherents of different religious, cultural, and political traditions.

    Federalism implies the existence of at least two orders of government and some autonomy of the constituent units. Given that the constituent units...

  16. United States of America
    (pp. 350-378)

    Almost every race, nationality, religion, and language in the world is present in the United States. This diversity is dispersed across the union’s fifty states; consequently, each state is diverse. Like Australia and Germany, there are no distinct, de jure, racial, national, religious, or linguistic jurisdictions. Having been founded on ideas (i.e., equality and individual rights) and having citizenship based on jus soli and naturalized citizen allegiance only to the US Constitution, American political culture has emphasized individualism within a common identity rooted in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (1776). This identity does not extinguish other identities. Americans...

  17. Comparative Conclusions
    (pp. 379-400)

    As we emphasized in the introduction to this volume, old and new diversities in several countries and their potential to create conflict have been frequently addressed through federal arrangements. As the country chapters in this volume show, federal institutions and ideas have helped accommodate ethno-linguistic or religious diversities, empower ethnic or linguistic minorities, manage conflicts, and establish a legitimate, stable, and cohesive order in many states.¹

    Of course, there are huge differences in the ways and degrees to which countries have achieved conflict management, stability, and legitimacy. But in most of the cases, a combination of both recognizing diversity and...

  18. Contributors
    (pp. 401-406)
  19. Participating Experts
    (pp. 407-414)
  20. Index
    (pp. 415-431)