Dialogues on Legislative and Executive Governance in Federal Countries

Dialogues on Legislative and Executive Governance in Federal Countries

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 56
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  • Book Info
    Dialogues on Legislative and Executive Governance in Federal Countries
    Book Description:

    These lively, timely, and accessible dialogues on federal systems provide a comparative snapshot of each topic and include comparative analyses, glossaries of country-specific terminology, and a timeline of major constitutional events. Countries considered include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Whether you are a student or teacher of federalism, working in the field of federalism, or simply interested in the topic, these booklets will prove to be an insightful, brief exploration of the topic at hand in each of the featured countries. Contributors include Rajeev Dhavan (University of Delhi), John Dinan (Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem), Alexander Domrin (Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law), Anna Gamper (University of Innsbruck), Antonio M. Hernandez (National University of Cordoba), Thomas Hueglin (Wilfred Laurier University), Katy Le Roy (University of Melbourne), Wolf Linder (University of Bern), Christina Murray (University of Cape Town), Stefan Oeter (Universität Hamburg), Ebere Osieke (Imo State University), Cheryl Saunders (University of Melbourne), Rekha Saxena (University of Delhi), and Isabelle Steffen (University of Bern).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7308-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
    Raoul Blindenbacher and Abigail Ostien
  4. Argentina: Centralized Power and Underdevelopment
    (pp. 3-5)

    Throughout its history, Argentina has experienced a high degree of concentration of power in the national executive, based in the capital of Buenos Aires, which is also the focus of economic and financial power. This phenomenon in turn has had implications both for the operation of democratic institutions and for the enactment of federalism. While the causes lie in part in problems of institutional design, which might be remedied by constitutional or legal change, they are attributable also to political culture and to a lack of respect for constitutional principles and the rule of law, for which remedies are less...

  5. Australia: Dualist in Form, Cooperative in Practice
    (pp. 6-9)

    Australia is a federation in which the centre and constituent units each have an almost complete set of institutions of government in a style that is broadly typical of a common law parliamentary democracy. On the face of the Australian Constitution, each jurisdiction has considerable autonomy from the others in the design and operation of its own institutions. As in any federation, however, there is a range of ways in which the federal character of the polity affects the structure and operation of institutions and, conversely, in which the choice of institutions affects the dynamics of the federal system. Some...

  6. Austria: Failure of Constitutional Convention; No Changes for Federal System
    (pp. 10-12)

    The Republic of Austria is one of the “old” European federal systems. It was founded in 1918 as the Republic of German-Austria by the Provisory National Assembly, created out and with the political will of the German speakingLänderof the former Austro-Hungarian Empire; it was then reestablished in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The federal Constitution, which dates back to the Constitutional Act of 1920, has been amended many times and also supplemented by numerous, additional federal constitutional acts and provisions. This is one of the reasons why Austria convened a constitutional convention in 2003,...

  7. Canada: Federalism Behind (Almost) Closed Doors
    (pp. 13-15)

    Canada differs from most other established federations, in that it contains two entirely different views of its federal structure. From the outset, francophone Quebeckers have understood Canada as a compact between two equal partners and founding cultures, one French and one English. When the Canadian federation expanded, from initially four to finally ten provinces, they saw the compact dissolve into an intergovernmental numbers game, with the lone French province in a perpetual 9:1 minority position. For most francophone Quebeckers, in other words, even if they are not outright separatists, the question of governance cannot be separated from the larger issue...

  8. Germany: Balancing Bundestag against Bundesrat and Governments aganist Legislatures
    (pp. 16-18)

    The German federal system has for decades been perceived as a success story because it helped to integrate the diverse segments of post-war Germany and safeguarded Germany’s multifaceted political, economic, and cultural structure. The federal system has also played an important part in successfully integrating the eastern part of Germany, the former German Democratic Republic. Since the 1990s, however, there has been a growing feeling of discontent among the general public as well as among political elites. The federal system is perceived as a source of political paralysis. Public demands for reform in the political setup and in economic legislation...

  9. India: An Ongoing Experiment to Redefine Federalism
    (pp. 19-21)

    The Indian Constitution was enacted in 1950, after four years of deliberation, to cater to the governance of what was then a population of 361 million. The nation consisted of an immense array of peoples from religious, linguistic, ethnic, caste, and community backgrounds reflecting great economic differentials. Fifty-five years later, with the population increasing to well over a billion, India has become like a microcosm of the world itself.

    India’s federal system was based on the British Government of India Act 1935, which was designed to deal with issues of law and order and revenue collection. Following the British design,...

  10. Nigerian Federalism at the Crossroads
    (pp. 22-24)

    Nigeria attained political independence in 1960, but like many other countries in Africa, and even Latin America and Asia, it has not enjoyed uninterrupted democratic governance since that time. The military has intervened so many times that out of the 45 years of sovereignty, a democratic system of government has operated for only 15 years. Significantly, the first major action of the military regimes once they had seized power was to abolish the legislative and executive arms of the government by suspending the parts of the Constitution that relate to them. Thus, when reference is made to legislative and executive...

  11. The Russian Federation under Putin: From Cooperative to Coercive Federalism?
    (pp. 25-28)

    Russia’s highly complex federal structure has become a significant problem, but one that could soon be addressed by imminent reforms. Re-elected in March 2004, President Vladimir Putin has begun his second term with a sweeping initiative to redistribute powers between the central government and the regions and to reduce the number of constituent units in the Russian Federation. The current changes are a continuation of Putin’s attempts to strengthen the federation from the centre and to establish stronger “vertical power” in the country.

    The adoption of the 1993 federal Constitution is not a culmination of Russian history or of Russia’s...

  12. South Africa: Provincial Implementation Of National Policies
    (pp. 29-31)

    South Africans agree that change is essential and that it is not happening fast enough. Too few people have shelter, water, and access to basic health care and too many people are malnourished, uneducated, and unemployed. Provinces are key to dealing with these issues. Altiiough the national government sets national policy, provides virtually all the financing, and prescribes the standards to which provinces must adhere, it is provinces that are expected to implement change.

    The system of shared responsibility between provinces and the national government requires a great deal of cooperation between the two spheres. Will the emerging practices of...

  13. Switzerland: Cooperative Federalism or Nationwide Standards?
    (pp. 32-34)

    In many respects, Switzerland owes its identity to its political institutions. In 1848 tHe founders of the Swiss nation state were not able to build on a common culture, but were faced with the peoples of 25 cantons with different historical backgrounds, speaking four languages, and following different religions. The solution proved to be a combination of democracy and federalism, which still today are at the centre of the Swiss political system. While this institutional design has proved to be rather successful for the past 150 years, it faces new challenges today.

    The core element of Swiss federalism was and...

  14. Contemporary Debates about the US Presidency and Congress: The Electoral College, Legislative Gerrymandering, and Enumerated Powers
    (pp. 35-38)

    Although US legislative and executive institutions have been remarkably stable over time, several recent developments have given rise to debates about particular aspects of these institutions. The fundamental questions of institutional design have long been settled, such as the choice of a presidential system, with the president selected independently of Congress. There has certainly been no reconsideration of the decision to establish a bicameral Congress, with the states entitled to equal representation in the Senate, and the House of Representatives apportioned among the states by population. Nor are there any challenges to the constitutional arrangement by which Congress possesses enumerated,...

  15. Comparative Reflections
    (pp. 39-42)

    The choice and design of the institutions of government is a key issue in the establishment and operation of any federation. Institutions are the mechanism through which the federal principle is given practical effect within all spheres of government. Many of the institutions of government in federal democracies are the same, or similar, to those in use in any democracy, whether federal or unitary. But, as this booklet shows, federalism and democratic institutions have an impact on each other. Federalism very often affects the way in which democratic institutions are designed, and the way in which they work in practice....

  16. Glossary
    (pp. 43-50)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 51-52)
  18. Participating Experts
    (pp. 53-58)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 59-62)