Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities in Federal Countries

Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities in Federal Countries

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities in Federal Countries
    Book Description:

    Contributors include Hugues Dumont (Belgium), J.Isawa Elaigwu (Nigeria), Thomas Fleiner (Switzerland), Xavier Bernadí Gil (Spain), Ellis Katz (USA), Nicolas Lagasse (Belgium), George Mathew (India), Clement Macintyre (Australia), Enric Argullol Murgades (Spain), Manuel González Oropeza (Mexico), Marcelo Piancastelli (Brazil), Hans-Peter Schneider (Germany), Richard Simeon (Canada), Marc Van der Hulst (Belgium), Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck (Belgium), and John M. Williams (Australia).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7321-5
    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: Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities
    (pp. 3-7)

    Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities in Federal Countriespresents an objective and balanced description and analysis of the distribution of powers and responsibilities in the federal constitution and actual federal practice of eleven countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States of America. For each federation there is an in-depth examination of such themes as (1) the distribution of governmental, political, monetary, fiscal, administrative, and policy responsibilities; (2) symmetry and asymmetry in the distribution of responsibilities; (3) the reasons and ways in which powers and responsibilities are explicitly and implicitly exclusive, concurrent, or...

  5. Commonwealth of Australia
    (pp. 9-33)

    The constitutional distribution of powers and responsibilities in the Australian federation has proved to be exceptionally flexible. Originally conceived as a decentralized federation with the bulk of powers remaining in the hands of the states, in fact there has been a steady accretion of power to the Commonwealth government since shortly after federation in 1901. Although formal amendment of the constitution has been limited, changing interpretation by the High Court and the exercise of financial control by the Commonwealth¹ have resulted in growing power and responsibility being exercised by the Commonwealth government.

    The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia came...

  6. Kingdom of Belgium
    (pp. 35-65)

    It is not easy to use simple language to describe something that is not simple, and Belgian federalism is far from simple. Built without preconceived ideas or an overarching doctrine, it accumulates original – sometimes labyrinthine – solutions as it goes along. In this chapter we attempt to describe the distribution of powers in Belgium as briefly as we can, without doing violence to its richness and complexity – concentrating on major characteristics rather than on an exhaustive inventory of rules. After reviewing the evolution of Belgian federalism along with its social and historical context, our chapter examines the, principles that govern the...

  7. The Federal Republic of Brazil
    (pp. 67-90)

    This chapter provides an overview of the distribution of powers and responsibilities in Brazil’s federal Constitution, tracing its historical development and describing how it works in practice. Brazil has a vast territory and a complex federal system. Its economy, in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) in U.S. dollars, is among the ten largest in the world. Attempts to implement a federal form of government can be traced back to 1831. It was in 1891 that the first republican federal constitution was promulgated. The present Constitution has been in operation since 1988, when democracy was re-established. It demonstrates a clear...

  8. Canada
    (pp. 92-122)

    The division of powers and responsibilities in Canada reflects the country’s unique history, social and economic makeup, and institutional design. Canada is one of the world’s most decentralized federations. This is a result both of the federal character of Canadian society and of the design of its institutions. “Functional” criteria for the division of powers are deeply affected by alternative criteria rooted in the tensions between Canadian nation-building, Quebec nation-building, and “province-building” elsewhere. Canada is also an example of “dual” (or “divided”) federalism rather than “shared” (or “integrated”) federalism.¹ The logic is based on separate lists of powers, but the...

  9. The Federal Republic of Germany
    (pp. 124-154)

    Like every federal order the German system is characterized by the principle of “strict separation” of powers and functions between the federal gov ernment (Bund) and the states (Länder). Both are vested with the three branches of public power: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. And each is responsible and accountable for its own acts and decisions, even if a federal law delegates legislative power to state parliaments. However, unlike the federal system in the United States, the German federal system is not based on two completely distinct and separate columns of federal and state powers with no connections...

  10. Republic of India
    (pp. 156-180)

    India became independent from British colonial rule on 15 August 1947. Besides the British-Indian provinces, 562 princely states became part of independent India. The Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and it came into force on 26 January 1950. At the time the Constitution was adopted, India had 14 states and six union territories. Beginning in 1956, and after several reorganizations of the states (the latest in November 2000), India now has twenty-eight states and seven union territories.

    When, in 1858, the British Crown took over the administration of India after a century...

  11. United Mexican States
    (pp. 182-206)

    The current and most pressing problem in the Mexican federal system is how to organize the distribution of powers. Since 1847 Mexico has had a type of distribution of powers in which the federal government may only exercise those powers grantedexpresslyin the Constitution; no other country in North America has this type of rigid distribution. Not even Canada (which has a dual catalogue of powers granted to both federal and provincial governments) or the United States (with the all-encompassing “necessary and proper clause”) are the same as Mexico in this respect. In those countries judicial interpretation has played...

  12. The Federal Republic of Nigeria
    (pp. 208-237)

    Nigeria became independent of British colonial rule on 1 October 1960. Except for a brief period (May-September, 1966) it has practised one form or another of federalism, even under military rule. The geographic and demographic size of the country and its communal heterogeneity and complexity have made federal compromise both attractive and a political imperative for Nigeria. Even within the context of authoritarian military rule, with its hierarchical structure, a decentralized administration based on relatively autonomous subnational states and local governments has operated.

    Successive military regimes amended the Constitution to suit their modes of governance and often referred to themselves...

  13. Kingdom of Spain
    (pp. 239-264)

    The Spanish Constitution of 1978 committed Spain to a form of territorial state organization (later referred to as “state of the autonomies”) that, despite not having a federal name or nature, has allowed a decentralization of political responsibilities that is far superior to that of some nominally federal countries.¹ This peculiar model of political organization has probably not favoured the development of an authentic federal culture, nor has it sufficiently extended the value of territorial pluralism as a commodity to be protected and promoted. But it has made possible the greatest period in Spain’s history, at least with regard to...

  14. Swiss Confederation
    (pp. 266-294)

    Switzerland’s federal constitution, adopted in 1848 after a civil war, was a compromise that sought to accommodate both the liberals (mainly Protestants) promoting a unitary state and the conservatives (mainly Roman Catholics) defending the former Confederation. In addition, the Constitution had to accommodate the linguistic diversity among the four official language groups.¹ Based on a highly decentralized federalism, the Cantons (the constituent units of the federation) maintained their far-reaching original autonomy, now as self-rule within a federation, and continued to share their sovereignty with the federation. The constitutional concept of Switzerland’s distribution of powers reflects a “bottom-up” construction of the...

  15. United States of America
    (pp. 296-321)

    In the United States the distribution of powers and responsibilities is better understood as a delegation of powers by the Constitution to the federal government than as a full distribution of powers between the federal government and the states. Rather than listing and separating the powers of the national and state governments, the Constitution of the United States delegates certain specified powers to the federal government and reserves all other powers, unless prohibited, to the states. This approach to the distribution of powers and responsibilities reflects the peculiar historical circumstances that led to the writing of the Constitution, the framers’...

  16. Comparative Conclusions
    (pp. 322-350)

    The essential characteristic of federations is that they are composed of two (or more) orders of government operating within a constitutional framework, with one order providingshared rulethrough common institutions for certain specified purposes and with the other order (or orders) providing regional or localself-rulethrough the governments of the constituent units for certain specified purposes. Thus, as the foregoing chapters in this volume make clear, a constitutional distribution of legislative and executive authority, responsibilities, and finances among the general and constituent unit governments constitutes a fundamental, indeed defining, aspect in the design and operation of all these...

  17. Contributors
    (pp. 351-356)
  18. Participating Experts
    (pp. 357-362)
  19. Index
    (pp. 363-373)