Restructuring the European State – European Integration and State Reform
by Paolo Dardanelli
Purchase: McGill-Queen’s University Press
Since 1950, devolution reforms have been widespread across Western Europe, leading to constitutional transformation in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as the potential for state breakup, as witnessed by independence referendums in Scotland and Catalonia. Over the same period, European integration has transferred power upwards to what is now the European Union. The simultaneous occurrence of these seemingly contradictory trends raises fundamental questions. Is state restructuring a uniform process? Has it been fuelled by European integration and, if so, how? Restructuring the European State uses a comparative analysis to present a systematic investigation of the connections between European integration and state restructuring. Paolo Dardanelli argues that there are two distinct dynamics of state restructuring: “bottom up,” where one or more regions demand self-government; and “top down,” where the central government decides to devolve power. Through quantitative analyses of thirteen key phases of state restructuring in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom he shows that European integration has a powerful influence only in bottom up cases. Dardanelli points to a striking paradox of integration, whereby an ethos of Europe growing ever closer to union has become associated with fragmentation, divergence, and increased complexity, rather than a seamless system of multilevel governance. Innovative and rigorously researched, Restructuring the European State marks a major advance in our understanding of contemporary European politics.
Courts in Federal Countries – Federalists or Unitarists?
Edited by Nicholas Aroney and John Kincaid
Purchase: University of Toronto Press
Courts are key players in the dynamics of federal countries since their rulings have a direct impact on the ability of governments to centralize and decentralize power. Courts in Federal Countries examines the role high courts play in thirteen countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Nigeria, Spain, and the United States.
The volume’s contributors analyse the centralizing or decentralizing forces at play following a court’s ruling on issues such as individual rights, economic affairs, social issues, and other matters. The thirteen substantive chapters have been written to facilitate comparability between the countries. Each chapter outlines a country’s federal system, explains the constitutional and institutional status of the court system, and discusses the high court’s jurisprudence in light of these features. Courts in Federal Countries offers insightful explanations of judicial behaviour in the world’s leading federations.
Avoiding Governors – Federalism, Democracy, and Poverty Alleviation in Brazil and Argentina
By Tracy Beck Fenwick
Purchase: University of Notre Dame Press
With the goal of showing the effect of domestic factors on the performance of poverty alleviation strategies in Latin America, Tracy Beck Fenwick explores the origins and rise of conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs) in the region, and then traces the politics and evolution of specific programs in Brazil and Argentina. Utilizing extensive field research and empirical analysis, Fenwick analyzes how federalism affects the ability of a national government to deliver CCTs.
One of Fenwick’s key findings is that broad institutional, structural, and political variables are more important in the success or failure of CCTs than the technical design of programs. Contrary to the mainstream interpretations of Brazilian federalism, her analysis shows that municipalities have contributed to the relative success of Bolsa Familia and its ability to be implemented territory-wide. Avoiding Governors probes the contrast with Argentina, where the structural, political, and fiscal incentives for national-local policy cooperation have not been adequate, at least this far, to sustain a CCT program that is conditional on human capital investments. She thus challenges the virtue of what is considered to be a mainly majoritarian democratic system.
By laying out the key factors that condition whether mayors either promote or undermine national policy objectives, Fenwick concludes that municipalities can either facilitate or block a national government’s ability to deliver targeted social policy goods and to pursue a poverty alleviation strategy. By distinguishing municipalities as separate actors, she presents a dynamic intergovernmental relationship; indeed, she identifies a power struggle between multiple levels of government and their electorates, not just a dichotomously framed two-level game of national versus subnational.
Political Parties and Civil Society in Federal Countries
Edited by Klaus Detterbeck, Wolfgang Renzsch and John Kincaid
Purchase: Oxford University Press Canada
Political parties and civil society organizations are among the most important political actors in federal democracies. These bodies represent both the interests and political identities of people on an individual level; society-wide, they make demands on public institutions and provide support for political preferences. They are also key political actors themselves, functioning as intermediaries between citizens and governments. This fascinating comparative study of the interactions between political parties and civil society in federal systems sheds new light on how these interactions function, influence politics, and ultimately shape a society.
Political parties are known to be vital forces in federal systems. Less well-understood is the role of civil-society institutions; the reason for this in part is that in many less developed federations, political parties may be robust but civil society is weak. Yet there has until now been little comparison of these institutions across federations. By selecting key issues, experts in eleven federal systems consider how these interactions work and how they may be game-changing. Each chapter provides an overview of its country’s arrangements, institutions, and practices regarding political parties and civil society organizations. Chapters reveal how parties and civil society are embedded in an institutional setting as well as the organizational structures and the territorial dynamics of interest mediation. They also analyze the impact of parties and civil society on federal developments.
This clearly written, well-edited collection will be accessible to interested citizens, political leaders, government practitioners, and students and faculty in institutions of higher education. It also provides insight into emerging trends for all these readers. The study concludes, for example, that federalism has proved to be a powerful weapon for opposition parties to challenge one-party hegemony, and that traditional party allegiances is declining across states. Another fascinating insight is new sectors that have been growing in many countries, sectors that focus such issues as citizens’ rights, environmental protection, and gender equality.
A vast majority of nation-states are multinational, multilingual, multireligious, and/or multicultural, and many of these are federations. Understanding the interactions between political bodies within these states helps us understand the twin trends of globalization and regionalization evident throughout today’s world.
Edited by Johanne Poirier, Cheryl Saunders and John Kincaid
Purchase: Oxford University Press Canada
The term “intergovernmental relations” suggests that aspect of federalism “as it is lived” in federations. Understanding the workings of these relations is key to mapping out healthy functioning – or lack thereof – of a federal system. This important comparative collection looks at the methods, structures, and modalities of interaction between twelve federations as well as the European Union, surveying how these interactions are structured.
This volume covers an impressive diversity of polities. These include both “old” federations as well as some that have been established more recently. In addition, this collection looks at federations from the North, the South, as well as emerging economies. It includes countries with parliamentary, presidential, and hybrid forms of government as well as those with civil law, common law, and mixed legal systems. This volume also examines the European Union as a federal system in and of itself; this complex body encompasses a number of federal characteristics, including a complex set of institutions and practices to manage what has been termed “multilevel governance”
Each chapter describes the principal mechanisms and processes of intergovernmental relations, highlighting those that work well and those that do not. Topics considered include the impact of intergovernmental relations on democracy, citizen participation, accountability, justice, and the rule of law. Chapters also evaluate whether mechanisms and processes are effective in terms of policy making and implementation. The range of structures considered here is also diverse. While most interactions are vertical, involving the central authority and constituent units, others are horizontal, between the constituent governments only. This collection reveals the wide variety of objectives pursued by central authorities, constituent units, and even local governments.
By Mariely López-Santana
Purchase: SUNY Press
Until recently, studies of changes in the welfare state have tended to focus on transformations in the nature of social policies and their level of generosity. The New Governance of Welfare States in the United States and Europe concentrates on an often overlooked dimension: territorial and governance transformations. Employing detailed case studies and more than seventy-five interviews, Mariely López-Santana captures how a variety of postindustrial countries across both sides of the Atlantic have transformed the postwar organization of their labor market policy settings through decentralization, centralization, and delegation reforms. These changes have in turn changed the role of national and subnational levels of government, as well as nongovernmental actors, in the organization, management, and provision of labor market policies and services. López-Santana’s multidisciplinary, comparative, and multilevel approach to welfare state change is an original and important step forward in our understanding of welfare reforms enacted since the mid-1990s.
By Sean Mueller
Purchase: ECPR Press
Centralisation and decentralisation are conceptionalised as having institutional (polity), functional (policy) and actor- and process-oriented dimensions.
When decentralisation is first predicted cross-sectionally using linear regression models, three significant independent variables emerge: political culture, area, and the strength of leftwing parties. Then, using process tracing, Mueller studies four cantons over time to move from identifying correlation to establishing causation. Finally, the author draws causal inferences for (de)centralisation, urging future federal and territorial politics studies to reconceptualise decentralisation into three distinct but related dimensions and to bridge the theoretical gap between socio-cultural, structural and party-political approaches to achieve more valid and reliable explanations of territorial governance.