Is there a space for federalism in times of emergency?

In many legal cultures, federalism is the real “F word”. It stands for inequality, privileges, inefficiency. For many, there seems to be an inherent contradiction between the obvious requirement of a coordinated line of command in case of emergency and a pluralistic territorial structure. A closer look at the comparative practice shows a different picture. Has federalism really been an obstacle to effective decision-making? Or rather the opposite?

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Concentration of Powers in the Federal Executive: The Application of Emergency Powers in Switzerland

Were we ready for the crisis? I do not mean whether Switzerland had enough hospital beds and ventilators, but whether its Federal Constitution was ready. Arguably, the former are vital, and as regards the latter, Switzerland is under no suspicion of losing its quality as a democracy and a Rechtsstaat. Still, the constitutional questions raised by the Corona crisis are troubling. The federal government is applying emergency powers unheard of since WW2, and which were previously unimaginable for most. Legal scholars are only starting to grapple the full implications of the crisis.

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The Erosion of Italian Regionalism

Elections in the small, peaceful, politically stable region of Umbria in central Italy normally go rather unnoticed. This didn’t change when the direct election of regional presidents was introduced in 1995, making Italy the only European country with a presidential system at regional level. The stunning victory of the right not only brought Umbria into the spotlight of national politics but also cast light on the erosion of regionalism in Italy.

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Article 370: Is it a Basic Feature of the Indian Constitution?

The move of India’s Government to nullify Article 370 of the Constitution not only broadened the legislative powers of the Union Parliament over the Jammu & Kashmir but also demoted J&K to the position of a Union Territory. Apart from doubts about the Government’s power to bring about these changes and their legitimacy, it is an open question whether Article 370 is a basic feature of the Constitution of India. Given the sacrosanct political arrangement it encapsulates as well as its role as an exemplar of Indian federal asymmetry, it is now upon the Supreme Court to formally acknowledge the constitutional basis of India’s delicate distribution of powers.

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Eine stille Föderalismusreform III: die Ausweitung der Bundes­kompetenzen für Investitionshilfen

Die erste große Reform der bundesstaatlichen Strukturen in Deutschland in diesem Jahrtausend ist zwölf Jahre her, die zweite neun. Jetzt wird die bundesstaatliche Ordnung erneut auf grundlegende Weise umgestaltet. Doch für den großen Zentralisierungsschub, der damit einhergeht, scheint sich die Öffentlichkeit kaum zu interessieren.

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Secessionism, Federalism and Constitutionalism in Ethiopia

On the morning of 4 August 2018, troops were seen taking over key positions in Jijiga, a capital city of the State of Somali, one of the constituent units of the Ethiopian federation. Heavily armed military vehicles were stationed outside the state parliament, the offices of state government and the state TV station. It was not an invasion by a foreign force. It was a federal intervention.

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Complexities of Constitutional Change in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in July 2016, His party, PDP-Laban, had campaigned under the slogan: “No to Drugs, Yes to Federalism”. Duterte thus is committed to shepherding the Philippines towards a federal form of government; an undertaking that would require an extensive overhaul of the country’s constitution. The future of constitutional change under Duterte in any event is uncertain for a series of constitutional and political reasons. Critically, some of the most pressing of these concern the process of constitutional change itself. 

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