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Understanding Federalism Comments And Reflections

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Presentation of Federalism

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    Understanding  Federalism   Comments And  Reflections Understanding Federalism Comments And Reflections Presentation Transcript

    • Understanding Federalism and its aspects in our lives
      • Comments and Reflections
      • on the speech of Dr. Reinold Herber,
      • Senior Advisor of the Forum of Federations
      • By Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis
      • Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Federal Countries
      • Argentina
      • Australia
      • Austria
      • Belgium
      • Bosnia and Herzegovina
      • Brazil
      • Canada
      • Comoros
      • Ethiopia
      • Germany
      • India
      • Malaysia
      • Mexico
      • The Federated States of Micronesia
      • Nigeria
      • Pakistan
      • Russia
      • St Kitts and Nevis
      • South Africa
      • Spain
      • Switzerland
      • United Arab Emirates
      • United States of America
      • Venezuela
    • Advantages of Federal states
      • Distribution of power : The classical horizontal division of the powers of state (legislative - executive - judicial) is complemented by a vertical division of power between the state as a whole and the individual federated units. This ensures that there are checks and balances, helping to prevent abuse of power.
      • Competition : The federated units are always competing with. This competition fosters progress and helps to avoid undesirable developments at the national level.
      • Balance: Mutual control, reciprocal consideration and the need to seek compromises prevent or at least hinder extreme positions. Federalism has a balancing and thus a stabilizing effect.
      • Diversity: The division of the country in federated units guarantees that many economic, political and cultural centers develop. This provides a more favorable environment to preserve and develop specific regional, historical, economic and cultural features.
      • More democracy : Each citizen has two opportunities to exercise the most fundamental democratic right, namely the right to vote; in a federation, elections are held both for the national parliament and for the parliaments of the individual federated units
      • Citizen-oriented action : Citizens enjoy more rapid access to the public authorities. It is easier for them to contact politicians and the public authorities than in a unitary state with a remote and anonymous centre. The government remains closer to the people, providing more say in issues that directly concern them at both levels.
      • Identity: Preservation of identity and culture of federated units
      • Proximity to tasks : In a federation, public bodies are closer to regional problems than in a unitary state. There are no remote, forgotten provinces.
      • The autonomy of the federated units is being preserved, while important issues like foreign affairs, national defense, economy, citizenship, immigration, etc are being handled by the central government
      • Development of the country is encouraged through decentralization and a regional manner. It allows for unique and innovative methods for tackling social, economic and political problems.
    • Disadvantages of federal states
      • Lack of uniformity: The federated units’ autonomy necessarily means there are differences between the units. Citizens living in different parts of the country may be treated differently, not only in spending programs, such as welfare, but in legal systems that assign in different places different penalties to similar offenses or that differentially enforce civil rights laws
      • Complicated: As decisions are taken in many different centers in the Federal Government and power is shared between the Federation and the federated units, it is essential that the various levels of government co-operate and show consideration for each other. This interweaving of responsibility is complex and sometimes hard for citizens to understand
      • Time-consuming: The parliaments, governments and administrations of the Federation and the federated units have to wait for initiatives, decisions or consent from each other and engage in lengthy negotiations in order to arrive at joint solutions. This can be a time-consuming process.
      • It can lead to duplication of government and inefficient, over-lapping or contradictory policies in different parts of the country.
      • It can lead to inequality between the federated units and lead to unhealthy competition and rivalry between them.
      • It can lead to neglect in important areas of public policy. A solution depends on co-operation between the administrations of the federated units.
      • It can lead to over-government . It is often argued that nations, especially small ones, cannot afford to have multiple legislative bodies and multiple local governments.
      • Disputes over power/national supremacy versus state’s rights
    • Examples
      • Yet, there are many more success stories of federations than failures.
      • Let us look briefly at two examples , Switzerland, and Belgium
    • A. Swiss Confederation
      • From 1291-1848 Confederation
      • 1848 For the first time adopted a federal constitution. Amended twice, 1874 and 1999
      • Despite its name, “Swiss Confederation” it is a federal state
    • 20 Cantons and 6 Half-Cantons
    • Population and other statistics for Switzerland
      • Population : 7 million
      • German-speaking: 63.6%
      • French-speaking: 19.2%
      • Italian-speaking:7.6%
      • Romanch: 0.6%
      • Other 8.6%
      • Religious Groups :
      • Protestants: 49%
      • Catholics: 46%
      • Other: 13.9%
      • Area: 41,300 km²
    • Language Groups of Switzerland
    • Division of Power
      • Cantons : They reserve the right of autonomy in their respective territories. They are “sovereign” as long and in so far as their “sovereignty” is not limited by the constitution
      • Division of Competence: Power of the Federal Government is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution: International affairs, defense, Citizenship, Trade, Currency, Banking, Railways, telecommunications, agriculture, nuclear energy.
      • Power of the Cantons : They have fiscal autonomy and the right to manage internal cantonal affairs. They have jurisdiction over: municipalities, education, culture, public order, infrastructure.
      • Both the Central Government and the Cantons they have power to levy taxes
      • Residual power belongs to the cantons
    • B. The Kingdom of Belgium
      • Area : 30,528 square kilometers
      • Population : 10.6 million (2007). 6 million are Flemish or Dutch-speaking and 4 million are Walloons or French-speaking. 73,000 are German-speaking
      • Multilingual character : Three official languages, Dutch, French, German
      • Unitary state from 1830 to 1993. Since 1993 it was transformed into a federal state following long struggles of the Flemish community for a more representative central government, respect of their identity in terms of language, culture and creation of autonomous institutions in the Flemish areas
    • Map indicating the communities and regions of Belgium . speaking German - Walloon ( Wallonia ) French Capital (Brussels) Flemish (Flanders) Flemish Region Community         Bilingual
      •         German-speaking
             French-speaking        Dutch-speaking
    • Three levels of Power
      • The Constitution of Belgium was amended on 14 July 1993 for the purpose of creating a federal state which is based on three levels of power:
      • The federal government based in Brussels
      • The three communities : depending on the language spoken:
      • -The Flemish community where the Dutch or Flemish language is spoken
      • -The French community where the French language is spoken
      • -The German-speaking community where German is spoken
      • The Three Regions
      • - The Flemish Region (57.9% of the population)
      • - The Walloon Region (32.6% of the population)
      • - The Brussels Capital Region (9.5% of the population
      • Residual Power belongs to the federal Government
    • Powers of the Federal Government
      • Powers: Social security, economic union, monetary policy, taxation, defense and international affairs, foreign trade, scientific policy, immigration, currency, banking, insurance, public debt, law and order
    • Communities of Belgium
      • There are Three Communities : The Flemish Community, The French Community and the German Speaking Community
      • They have Powers over: Language, Culture, Education, Social Services, Health. They also have powers in the field of scientific research in relation to their powers and international relations associated with their powers.
      • The concept of 'community' refers to persons that make up a community and the bond that unifies them, namely their language and culture, and not to territorial areas
      • For example the Dutch-speaking of the Region of Brussels belong to the Flemish Community or the French- speaking of the Region of Brussels belong to the Walloon Region . Likewise Dutch-speaking in the Walloon Region and French-speaking in the Flemish Region belong to their respective communities
    • Regions of Belgium
      • There are Three Regions : The Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels Capital Region
      • The three Regions have Power over: regional economic development, employment, agriculture, water policy, housing, public works, energy, transport (except Belgian Railways), the environment, town and country planning, nature conservation, credit, supervision of the provinces, communes and intercommunal utility companies. They also have powers relating to scientific research and international relations in those fields.
    • Conclusions
      • Federalism is not a panacea and it does not solve all problems
      • It is important to create a federalist culture, as well as a culture of consensus-building, cooperation, tolerance, mutual understanding and respect of differences, diversity and multiculturalism, devotion to the common institutions and creation of a shared identity
      • There is no specific model of federation which could be copied from one and implemented in another country
      • Every federation has its own special characteristics and it adapts to the needs of a specific country and a specific people
      • In the European Union there are 4 countries with federal systems of governance: Austria, Belgium, Germany and Spain
      • In the 21 st century it is expected that more countries will move towards federalism, especially federations emerging from post conflict situations (both international and ethnic), like Iraq, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Cyprus
      • A great challenge for many countries facing separatist threats, remains the adaptation of the political system of the country in order to meet the needs of different groups of the population (ethnic, linguistic, culturally diverse)
      • Federalism, by allowing power to be at once divided and coordinated, enables respect for different identities, accommodation, multicultural co-existence, tolerance and cooperation to take place and acts in a positive way for keeping a country together rather than divided