Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries

Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 472
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  • Book Info
    Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries
    Book Description:

    Contributors include Ignatius Ayua Akaayar (Nigeria), Raoul Blindenbacher (Switzerland), Dakas C.J. Dakas (Nigeria), Kris Deschouwer (Belgium), Juan Marcos Gutiérrez González (Mexico), John Kincaid (USA), Rainer Knopff (Canada), Jutta Kramer (Germany), Akhtar Majeed (India), Marat S. Salikov (Russia), Cheryl Saunders (Australia), Anthony M. Sayers (Canada), Nicolas Schmitt (Switzerland), Celina Sousa (Brazil), Nico Steytler (South Africa), and G. Alan Tarr (USA).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7255-3
    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. A Global Dialogue on Federalism: Conceptual Framework
    (pp. 3-7)

    The impetus to begin such an exchange between federal countries came in 1999 at the first International Conference on Federalism in Mont Tremblant, Canada, at which more than 500 elected officials, civil servants, academics, and private-sector representatives from 25 countries participated. Only three years later, more than 600 representatives from 60 countries participated at the second International Conference on Federalism in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 2002. This work will continue through the International Conference on Federalism in Brussels, Belgium, in March 2005 and through such conferences in the future.

    While sharing experiences may seem to be an obvious way to...

  5. INTRODUCTION Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change
    (pp. 8-12)

    A constitution ordinarily embodies a society’s fundamental choices about government. The constitution designates offices, specifies how these offices are to be filled, allocates powers and responsibilities between the various offices, indicates the aims for which political power is to be exercised, and – in most instances – elaborates the individual rights and, sometimes, group rights that are to be protected against violation by government. In some instances, a constitution eloquently articulates a country’s aspirations and becomes a source of pride and a symbol of national unity for its citizens.

    When a country adopts a federal system, it necessarily embraces complexity...

  6. Commonwealth of Australia
    (pp. 13-48)

    Australia’s Constitution was negotiated during the last decade of the nineteenth century and came into force on 1 January 1901. Its federal features were substantially influenced by United States federalism, as then understood. Nevertheless, the Australian Constitution was distinctive from the outset in ways that were recognized during the drafting and that have become more prominent over time.

    Australia’s Constitution combines United States-style federalism with British institutions of parliamentary responsible government, creating a different dynamic for decision making within and between the spheres of government. The framers of the Constitution initially feared that these two sets of principles would be...

  7. Kingdom of Belgium
    (pp. 49-76)

    Belgium is a small – 32,500 square kilometers – but densely populated country with 10 million inhabitants. The country was born in 1830, when the southern part of the 15-year-old United Kingdom of the Low Countries seceded from the north. There were two major reasons for the south to break away: religion and language. The southern part of the Low Countries – which became the Belgian state in 1830 – was homogeneously Roman Catholic, whereas the northern part was predominantly Protestant. Furthermore, the elites of the south spoke French, whereas Dutch was the dominant language of the United Kingdom of...

  8. Federal Republic of Brazil
    (pp. 77-103)

    Brazil has been a federal country for more than a century. With a land area of 8,514,215 square kilometers, Brazil has a population of about 178 million and an annual population growth of 1.4 percent. The urbanization rate is 81.2 percent. In 2002 Brazil’s gross domestic product (gdp) amounted to approximately us$451 billion, and its gdp per capita was $2,582. According to the 2001 Census, most Brazilians (54 percent) declare themselves white, followed by mulatto (39.9 percent), black (5.4 percent), Oriental (0.5 percent), and indigenous people (0.2 percent). The great majority said they belong to the Roman Catholic Church (73.6...

  9. Canada
    (pp. 104-143)

    Canada is geographically the world’s second largest country.¹ Its nearly 10 million square kilometers traverse North America from the us border in the south to the Arctic Ocean in the north and from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific in the west. A resource-rich land with a 2002 per capita gross domestic product of about us$27,112,² Canada encompasses the world’s longest coastline,³ countless interior waterways, extensive forests, substantial mineral and hydrocarbon deposits, the western prairie, the northern tundra, and the Rocky Mountains.

    With a 2003 population of 31,714,637, Canada is sparsely populated, all the more so because...

  10. Federal Republic of Germany
    (pp. 144-179)

    The Federal Republic of Germany “is a democratic and social federal state” (Basic Law, Art. 201). It was founded in 1949, after the Western Allies gave the prime ministers of theLänder(i.e., the constituent states), which were reestablished after the Second World War, the task of drafting a new constitution with a federal character in order to prevent a strong central state from arising in Germany again. However, the federal order in Germany does not follow the example of the United States Constitution, which emphasizes a division of powers between governments, but rather the German tradition, which is characterized...

  11. Republic of India
    (pp. 180-208)

    India’s Constitution, which came into force on 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, is the world’s longest, with 395 articles (divided into 22 parts), 12 schedules, and three appendices. The framers, following the tradition of detail found in the Government of India Act 1935, rejected brevity. The Constitution is, in fact, a detailed legal code dealing with all important aspects of the constitutional and administrative system of India. It establishes a “Union of States,” which now consists of 28 states, six “union territories,” and one National Capital Territory. It also defines the powers of the executive, legislative, and...

  12. United Mexican States
    (pp. 209-239)

    The Constitution of Mexico – officially, the United Mexican States – does not formally set forth any purposes in a lofty preamble. However, the provisions of the Constitution of 1917 clearly reflect major issues and concerns still prevalent in Mexico.¹ One overriding objective was to limit the power of the president as well as the perpetuation of this power through reelection. Decentralization and establishing a federal system were also at the top of the framers’ agenda, as Mexico has a long tradition of centralism extending back through the colonial period and into the eras of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations....

  13. Federal Republic of Nigeria
    (pp. 240-279)

    Nigeria, named after the River Niger, is situated on the southern coast of West Africa. It shares borders with Benin to the west, Cameroon and Chad to the east, and Niger to the north. Nigeria has been federal since independence in 1960 mainly because it is multiethnic and multireligious, yet Nigeria’s territorially based diversity also militates against both federalism and democracy by producing, in response to divisive and centrifugal forces, highly centralized military and civilian governance characterized by undemocratic or weakly democratic rule. The country’s oil wealth, too, has been more of a curse than a blessing because it has...

  14. Russian Federation
    (pp. 280-311)

    Geographically, Russia is the world’s largest country, with a land area of 17,075,200 square kilometres. It dominates northern Eurasia, stretching northward to the Arctic Ocean, eastward to the Pacific Ocean, and westward to Central Europe, and it is bordered by (among other countries) Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Poland, and the Ukraine. Russia’s population numbers about 145 million. Russians comprise the most numerous ethnic group (81.5 percent of the population), and Russian is the predominant language. However, Russia includes a variety of other ethnic groups, including Tatars (3.8 percent of the population), Ukrainians (3.0 percent), Chuvash (1.2 percent), and Bashkirs (0.9 percent)....

  15. Republic of South Africa
    (pp. 312-347)

    At the end of three centuries of colonial and racial domination, two constitutions, forged during the 1990s, sought to establish a majoritarian, nonracial democracy in South Africa. The objective of the new order was to liberate and empower the oppressed majority in order to rectify past injustices. Coupled with this objective was the desire to unite a country divided along racial and ethnic lines. Nation building was based on the individualist thrust of human rights that would cut across the old racial divisions, establishing a republic that, according to the Preamble of the 1996 Constitution, “belongs to all who live...

  16. Swiss Confederation
    (pp. 348-381)

    Denis de Rougemont characterized Swiss federalism as a “love of complexity.” The distinguishing feature of Switzerlands is its diversity: There are 26 cantons, four national languages, and a kaleidoscope of cultures and religions as well as a varied geography (towns, countrysides, and mountain regions). Switzerland is not a nation in the traditional sense of the term but awillensnationforged by the desire of its citizens to renew constantly the links that unite them: “Together, we defend the right to remain different.”² It is this very unity in diversity that makes Switzerland a paradigm of political integration. The Preamble to...

  17. United States of America
    (pp. 382-408)

    The United States of America is the world’s oldest, continuing, modern federal democracy. Indeed, the framers of the United States Constitution are widely regarded as the inventors of modern federalism, as distinct from ancient forms of federalism, especially confederalism. The us Constitution has been influential as a model of federal democracy, and key principles of the Constitution – such as federalism, the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and individual rights – have gained acceptance worldwide. Americans believe that the nation’s success owes much to the brilliance of the Constitution’s drafters. Yet neither the Constitution, nor the federal polity it...

  18. Comparative Observations
    (pp. 409-448)

    The 12 constitutions examined here are drawn from a universe of 25 federal countries.¹ The constitutions range from the oldest, that of the United States of America (1788), to the youngest, that of the Republic of South Africa (1996). The countries range from Australia, with only six constituent states, to Russia, with 89 “subjects of the federation,” plus Belgium, with its double federation of three territorial regions and three nonterritorial language communities, making for five constituent units because Flanders is both a community and a region. The sample includes common-law and civil-law federations, parliamentary and nonparliamentary federations, and highly homogeneous...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 449-452)
  20. Participants of the Global Dialogue on Federalism
    (pp. 453-456)
  21. Index
    (pp. 457-467)