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What are the territorial levels of the regional organization of power?

Central (or federal) government, regional government, local government(s), and in the context of the European Union, Supranational government.


Where does the word "federal" come from?

It comes from the latin word foedus, meaning treaty. Therefore, federal or federalism pertains to a covenant or treaty.


What is a federation?

Any political system putting the principle of sharing sovereignty and power into practice. Uniting for common purposes yet remaining separate to preserve own identity.


What are features of federalism?

A written constitution, shared sovereignty, dual belonging, division of policy powers, autonomy of subnational unities (e.g. states or provinces) in certain matters, and the inability of both tiers to abolish one another.


What are some reasons that a federation is formed?

Federations can be formed by: coming together of communities to preserve identity and autonomy, existence of an external threat (ex. USA, Germany), Geographical size, and cultural or ethnic differences (ex. Belgium). In short, federalism is an institutional response to societal divisions and diversities.


What are the two types of federalism?

Dual federalism: (ex. USA) National and state governments operate independently, each tier acting autonomously, linked through constitutional compact. The federal government collects taxes, pays debts, provides defense and welfare. With dual federalism, federal government more important during war.
Cooperative federalism: (ex. Germany) More collaboration between levels, overall leadership of central government, national - state governments work as partners, solidarity and subsidiarity, aims to ensure social peace by giving a share in decision making. In cooperative federalism, lander legislate themselves as long as they don't infringe on the specific legislative powers by the federal government.


Coming together federalism vs. holding together federalism.

Coming together federalism includes the bottom-up bargaining process where sovereign polities come together. They voluntarily give up their sovereignty to pool their resources in order to improve collective security and achieve economic goals. Examples are Australia, Switzerland, and the US.
Holding together federalism includes the top-down process where the central government decentralizes its power to subnational government, one or more territoriality based ethnic groups, in order to appease secessionist groups and to keep the country together. Examples: Belgium, India, Spain


What are some pros and cons of federalism?

Pros: practical arrangement, checks and balances, recognition of diversity, competition between provinces, and government is closer to people so tailored policies.
Cons: Less effective to respond to security threats, accentuate divisions between subnational units, center can experience difficulty to launch national initiatives, and regional governments can block reforms of government.


What is a unitary state?

A unitary state is where sovereignty resides with the "center". The lower territorial levels are created by the central government, and subnational governments may make policy but are dependent on he center and often accountable to the center.


What is devolution?

Devolution is the biggest measure of decentralization in unitary systems of government. Creation of "devolved" assemblies used to answer nationalist and regional pressures. Was used in France (to create regional councils) and in the UK (Scottish Parliament and Wales Assembly).


Compare Federalism to Unitarianism.

Federal = share sovereignty and power between the central government and subnational bodies. There is a degree of independence from the government.
Unitary = power flows from central to local, sub-central units are usually created by the central government, the central government can reform, restructure or abolish them, local government implement services.


Why is there regional organization of power? Why the need for different layers? Why is this topic important?

Political rule means making and enforcing rules over a particular population in certain regions. Rulers need to extract resources such as taxes from their territory and also retain the willingness of the population within the state's orbit, be able to control the population in different parts of the country as well. Regional organization of power is linked to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. States became 'sovereign' over their territories and the Peace of Westphalia defined sovereign in 'territorial' terms. States were seen to be defined by their ability to exercise independent control over institutions in their border. Within a state there are territorial levels: central or federal government, regional government, and local government (in European Union case, Supranational government). This may be to help aid in the thorough maintenance of the entire state and population in an orderly fashion.


What is the main difference between federalism and unitary systems?

Federalism involves sharing sovereignty and power between the central government and subnational bodies whereas unitary systems sovereignty mainly remains in the center.


Discuss Elazar's reading (8.1) and what Federalism is according to him

Federalism is the combination of self-rule and shared rule through constitutionalized power sharing.


What is the basic logic of federalism and how does it function?



Discuss examples from US, Germany, and Spain as federal countries. Particularly discuss the unique case of Spain.

US as a federal country: Emerged from a meeting of representatives from 13 separate American states in 1787. COMING TOGETHER of political communities that want to preserve their identity and autonomy. Reluctance of former colonies to establish a strong national government (Philadelphia Constitutional Convention 1797). Strong central government preserving state and individual freedoms. 10th Amendment - powers not delegated to the central government would be 'reserved to the states respectively, or the the people'.
Germany Example: There are two legislative chambers in Germany, Germany is a federal country divided into regions (Lander), and the Bundesrat upper chamber represents regional interests.
Spain example: Asymmetric Federalism (officially it is a unitary state). Is a bicameral state: Cortes Generales and Senado at the national level. Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia and Andalusia regions with historical status. Basque Country and Navarra have their own taxing powers (different than other systems)


Discuss France and the UK as unitary countries.