Dialogues on Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries, Vol. 1

Dialogues on Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries, Vol. 1

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 56
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    Dialogues on Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries, Vol. 1
    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 Ignatius Ayua Akaayar (Federal Republic of Nigeria), Raoul Blindenbacher (Forum of Federations), Barbara Brook (Forum of Federations), Kris Deschouwer (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Juan Marcos Gutiérrez González (Consul General of Mexico, Denver, CO), Rainer Knopff (University of Calgary), Jutta Kramer (Universität Hannover), Katy Le Roy (University of Melbourne), Akhtar Majeed (Hamdard University), Marat S. Salikov (Urals State Law Academy), Cheryl Saunders (University of Melbourne), Anthony M. Sayers (University of Calgary), Nicolas Schmitt, (Université de Fribourg), Celina Sousa (University of São Paulo), Nico Steytler (University of Western Cape), and G. Alan Tarr (Rutgers University).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7306-2
    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
    (pp. 3-6)

    This booklet is the outcome of roundtable events held in a dozen federal countries, as well as at an international comparative roundtable, all exploring the theme of “Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries,” as part of the program,A Global Dialogue on Federalism.The Forum of Federations and the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) are collaborating on this program to engage participants in comparative dialogues about core themes on federalism, with the aims of learning from each other’s knowledge and experience and building an international network. This article provides a brief description of the Global...

  5. Australia: The Evolution of a Constitution
    (pp. 7-9)

    The Australian federal Constitution has lasted for over 100 years, but has proved capable of adapting to changing circumstances nevertheless. The text of the Constitution has changed little since 1901, with only 8 of 44 referendums for change having been successful. Gradual evolution in the meaning and operation of the text has taken place, however, through judicial interpretation and changing political practice. One of the major evolutionary changes has been the gradual expansion of the powers of the Commonwealth, or federal, government and Parliament. Although the system of government created by the Constitution remains stable, there are current arguments for...

  6. Belgium: Ambiguity and Disagreement
    (pp. 10-12)

    Belgium became a federal country gradually, starting in the 1970s and culminating in the early 1990s. The motive for federalism was to manage tensions between the Dutch-speaking north of the country and the French-speaking south. Interestingly, the north and the south still have somewhat different visions of their federal system. This disagreement has made its way into the Constitution. North and south also still dis agree on the very definition of language rights and minority groups, a principal reason why these are not clearly defined in the Constitution. Ongoing ambiguity and deep disagreement are basic ingredients of a federal structure...

  7. Brazil: The Challenges of Constitutional Implementation
    (pp. 13-15)

    With seven different constitutions in its 115 years of federal governance, Brazil is now under the aegis of the 1988 Constitution. It is a result of the country’s return to democracy after almost 20 years under a military regime. Brazil has had a variety of federal arrangements and has experienced periods of authoritarianism and democracy. The country’s main social conundrums, regional and social inequality and poverty, while of concern to constitution makers since the 1930s, have not been vigorously addressed by any political system.

    Federalism was introduced in 1889 and laid out in the 1891 Constitution. Unlike in many federal...

  8. Constitutional Politics in Canada
    (pp. 16-18)

    Although Canada is one of the world’s oldest federal democracies, it is beset by cultural tensions that have recently threatened its disintegration. Credible separatist challenges from the province of Quebec, Canada’s predominantly French-speaking jurisdiction, began in the mid-1970s and culminated in a 1995 Quebec referendum that came within a whisker (1.2%) of approving secession.

    Quebec claims the status of a “distinct society” on the grounds that it represents one of Canada’s two founding nations, meaning that the other nine provinces are subdivisions of the English-speaking nation. The other provinces advance a vision of equal provincial status instead. The result is...

  9. Germany: Overlapping Powers and Political Entanglements
    (pp. 19-22)

    The Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, four years after Germany’s defeat in World War II, after the Western Allies gave the prime ministers of the constituent states, orLänder;the task of drafting a new constitution with a federal character. Their goal was to prevent a strong central state from arising in Germany again. The resulting federal system is characterized by interconnections and overlapping powers between the central government and the constituent units.

    Current challenges to Germany’s federal structure include whether or not the system as it stands provides for an adequate constitutional relationship between the federation...

  10. India: The Emergence of Cooperative Federalism
    (pp. 23-25)

    The Constitution of India envisaged a creative balance between the need for an effective Centre and empowered states. The federal system that emerged became the sound framework for the working of the Indian state. In spite of the difficulty of maintaining a balance of powers, the system has survived.

    A country the size of a continent, with an area of 12,650 000 sq. miles and a population of over a billion, India is a diverse society with 18 national languages and some 2000 dialects, a dozen ethnic and seven religious groups fragmented into a large number of sects, castes, and...

  11. Mexican Federalism in the Democratic Transition
    (pp. 26-28)

    During the twentieth century, the story of Mexican federalism was mostly one of centralization, which has only been countered since about 1983 by demands and policies for governmental decentralization, political democratization, and economic liberalization. The provisions of the current constitution, the Constitution of 1917, clearly reflect major issues and concerns prevalent in Mexico in the past that are still with us in the present. Among some of these issues are the overriding power of the president, decentralization, and the establishment of a truly federal system. Today, Mexico is struggling to define its own version of federalism and to put an...

  12. Nigeria: In Need of Good Governance
    (pp. 29-31)

    Nigeria came into existence in 1900, in the form of the British Protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria and the Colony of Lagos. These units were amalgamated under a single British administration in 1914, and from then until 1954 Nigeria was governed as a unitary state. This is a story familiar to students of European imperialism: a new state – Nigeria – created not by the voluntary union of previously existing, closely related, and freely contracting political units, but imposed by an imperial power on an artificially demarcated territory containing a heterogeneous population of people who up to then had been essentially...

  13. Russia: Federalism in Flux
    (pp. 33-35)

    Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia has been struggling in its efforts to build a democratic political system, market economy, and true federal structure to replace the strict political and economic controls of its communist period. Russia is not only the world’s largest country, but also has one of its most complex federal systems. The Russian Federation consists of 89 constituent units, typically referred to as “subjects of the Federation” that are divided into six different categories: republics, territories, regions, autonomous areas, autonomous regions, and federal cities. Russian federalism combines both ethno-federalism and territorial federalism. The current constitution of the...

  14. South Africa’s Negotiated Compromise
    (pp. 36-38)

    At the end of three centuries of colonial and racial domination, South Africa adopted a new constitution in 1996 that established a non-racial democracy. The transition from minority rule to majority rule was a “negotiated revolution.” The constitution that emerged displays some federal features but nevertheless ensures dominance by the Centre. While nine provinces were established, neither the Constitution nor the political discussions and debates before or after the Constitution used the word “federalism” to apply to South Africa’s federal system. With no written reference to itself as a federal country, debate continues on the nature of the new South...

  15. Switzerland: Crisis of Confidence
    (pp. 39-41)

    Modern Switzerland’s first constitution, dating to 1848. is the second federal constitution of modern times after that of the United States. Its adoption concluded a period of uncertainty during which Switzerland tested a number of governmental systems. The Swiss Constitution has responded well to the needs and expectations of the people. However, some of the reasons for its success – including its highly democratic decision-making process and the promotion of its own diversity – now have given rise to a new series of problems.

    The country had been a loose confederation of sovereign cantons until 1798, when Napoleon’s invasion transformed it into...

  16. United States of America: Enduring Constitution, New Challenges
    (pp. 42-44)

    In its successful history, the United States Constitution has served as both inspiration and model for emerging federal democracies around the world. It has proven itself capable of responding to past challenges — including a divisive civil war. Now, more than two-hundred years after its drafting, the U.S. Constitution is facing another crop of challenges.

    One of the most significant questions is how die constitutional system can accommodate globalization, as illustrated by the adoption of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA ) and by aggressive state involvement in trade policy. A continuing source of dispute is how the constitutional system...

  17. Comparative Reflections
    (pp. 45-49)

    Every country’s constitution is somewhat distinctive, a reflection of the country’s history, culture, and character of its populace. Nonetheless, as the preceding articles have shown, there are significant commonalities among constitutions as well. In many instances, the resemblances that one finds among constitutions are the product of design, not of chance. Because constitution-making represents the most fundamental exercise of political choice, constitution-makers are well advised to seek the broadest possible perspective on the task in which they are engaged. Thus, countries devising new constitutional regimes characteristically look to the experience of other countries, learning from their successes and their failures,...

  18. Timeline of Constitutional Events
    (pp. 50-50)
  19. Glossary
    (pp. 51-60)
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 61-62)
  21. Participants of the Global Dialogue on Federalism
    (pp. 63-66)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 67-69)