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Water Federalism in the United States of America  

Rebecca F.A. Bernat and Sharon B. Megdal

Water governance in the United States has followed a water federalism system, in which government functions are shared between federal and state authorities. Water federalism is the sharing of governance across different levels of government over freshwater quantity (water quantity federalism) and quality (water quality federalism). These terms have evolved throughout different eras of U.S. history. Initially, water federalism involved water quantity federalism only, and both state and federal governments had management prerogatives. The 1922 Colorado River Compact and the 1944 U.S. and Mexico Treaty are examples of a combination of horizontal and vertical federalisms. Then, the 1970s marked significant changes in water federalism. First, states regained control over water resources management. Second, water quality federalism arose as a subset of, and at the same time as, environmental federalism. The 1972 Clean Water Act is an example of cooperative federalism, which was commonly used to refer to environmental federalism. In the 21st century, a variety of environmental federalism frameworks have been offered to address the negative effects of climate change on water resources as well as other environmental issues. The contemporary literature on environmental federalism encompasses water quantity and water quality federalism. Throughout history, the role of American Indian tribal primacy has been overlooked in the water federalism literature. Another layer of government, the American Indian tribal government, should be included in discussing states versus federal water management prerogatives. Overall, new water quality and water quantity federalisms must be developed using institutional, sociocultural, and economic principles of good governance that foster a more inclusive, participatory, democratic, and engaged form of federalism.

Article

Theoretical Perspectives on Subnational Public Policy and LGBT Law  

Jason Pierceson

Subnational policymaking is central to LGBT politics and law, in contrast to other arenas of policymaking for marginalized groups. With barriers to national policymaking in Congress and in the federal courts, LGBT rights activists have leveraged opportunities at the state and local levels to create LGBT-supportive policies. Opponents have also used subnational politics to further their agenda, particularly direct democracy, while LGBT rights activists have used elite politics, such as state courts, effectively. Subnational LGBT politics is also marked by a significant variety in policy outcomes, with a notable urban and suburban versus rural divide in policymaking and in the presence of openly LGBT elected officials. The case of LGBT policy and law has caused scholars to rethink questions such as the role of public opinion in state policymaking, morality politics, and courts and social change.

Article

Federalism and Regional Autonomy  

Dejan Guzina

Federalism refers to the compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or “federal” government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial, or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system. Its distinctive feature is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established, as exemplified in the founding of modern federalism of the United States of America under the 1787 Constitution. Federalism differs from confederalism, in which the general level of government is subordinate to the regional level, and from devolution within a unitary state, in which the regional level of government is subordinate to the general level. Instead, federalism represents the central form of the pathway of regional integration or separation. Leading examples of the federation or federal state include the Russian Federation, the United States, USSR, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and India. Some also characterize the European Union as the pioneering example of federalism in a multi-state setting—a concept termed the federal union of states. Traditionally, federalism was defined as a simple league or inter-governmental relationship among sovereign states based upon a treaty. Whereas modern federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments.

Article

Federalism, Decentralization, Intergovernmental Relations, and Educational Provision in Five Latin American Countries  

Gilda Cardoso de Araujo

Federalism is a common object of study in various fields, including political science, economics, law, and history. In the field of education, however, the analysis of how educational policies are shaped by federal contexts is relatively recent. Despite the influence of U.S. constitutionalism and federalism, the historical trajectory of both Latin American federalisms and the distribution of responsibility for providing education are characterized by a centralizing federalism. This was the case at least until the final years of the 20th century when decentralizing processes based on cooperative intergovernmental relations, linked to a transfer of authority that limited the equitable provision—both in quality and quantity—of public education began.

Article

Federalism and LGBT Politics and Policy in the United States  

Jami K. Taylor, Donald P. Haider-Markel, and Daniel C. Lewis

The LGBT policymaking process in the United States is fragmented and LGBT citizens face different policy contexts depending on which local government and state they reside in. With a lack of national consensus on LGBT rights and the country’s federal political system, which allows states to have substantial policymaking authority, policymakers have created a diverse and decentralized set of policies. Indeed, this governmental system significantly shapes the opportunity structure for the adoption of LGBT inclusive policy. It allows for remarkable LGBT rights advances in some states and localities, but little to no progress in others. States in the Northeast and on the West Coast tend to have more LGBT inclusive policies than those in the South or Midwest. In some instances, localities in states that lack inclusive policies engage in compensatory policymaking to provide added LGBT protections. However, the ability of localities to do this is shaped by state law concerning home rule authority and whether the state legislature has decided to proscribe such action. When trying to advance LGBT rights policy, advocates must venue-shop for favorable policymaking circumstances. Favorable circumstances commonly include institutional control by Democrats or municipalities with greater diversity, higher education levels, and more people engaged in management, business, science, and arts occupations. Opponents to LGBT rights are engaged in venue-shopping as well, but they normally hold the defensive advantage of maintaining the status quo. Both proponents and opponents of LGBT rights have used the court systems of states and the national government to shape LGBT rights related policy.

Article

Member-State Structures in Federations: Creation and Implications  

George Anderson

While member-state structures—the number, relative sizes, and demographic characteristics of states in federal regimes—could be thought to be one of the defining features of different federations, the comparative literature has paid relatively little attention to this important topic. There is the well-known distinction between “coming together” and “holding together” federations, but this has not led to comparative examinations of how these different formative experiences relate to the member-state structure of a federation, its evolution over time, and the processes for defining new or revised member-states. There has been more comparative attention to differences between “ethnic” and “territorial” federations, but often with limited linkage to other variables, such as the number and relative sizes of the member-states. For example, the literature on consociational power-sharing arrangements in central federal governmental institutions has largely neglected consideration of how the member-state structure and the pattern of territorial cleavages in the society affect the likelihood or form of power-sharing arrangements. This relates to the need to see the political geometry of federations in their broader social context: how the member-state structure compares with the underlying social and territorial cleavages in the country. While these cleavages may affect the member-state structure of the federation, they will certainly affect the political dynamics as institutional arrangements and societal pressures interact.

Article

Territorial and Institutional Settlements in the Global South and Beyond  

Allison McCulloch and Eduardo Wassim Aboultaif

Territorial and institutional settlements—from federalism and regional autonomy to consociationalism, centripetalism, and other forms of power-sharing—represent leading strategies by which to end protracted ethnicized conflicts. Yet there remains considerable debate as to the long-term merits of such approaches. Does consociationalism entrench divisions and immobilize government decision-making? Is federalism merely a precursor to secession? Or are territorial and institutional settlements the best prospect by which to deliver peace, democracy, and stability to deeply divided societies? The debate remains unsettled. Two main iterations of the debate regarding institutional design choices in divided societies in the Global South can be identified: one—accommodation versus integration—tends to present the options in zero-sum terms. In these earlier stages of the debate, consociationalism and centripetalism are frequently cast as opposing and irreconcilable forms of government in deeply divided societies (e.g., consociationalism versus centripetalism). Later scholarship tracks a different approach. In the second iteration—what can be labeled the turn to hybridity—scholars have shifted toward emphasizing their compatibility (e.g., consociationalism and centripetalism) or charting a path between them (consociationalism, then centripetalism). Beyond scholarly debates, institutional and territorial settlements in the Global South, including from across Latin and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, exhibit a wide variety of forms and manifestations, some of which support accommodation while others tend toward integration.

Article

Devolution, Regional and Peripheral Nationalism  

André Lecours

Social science scholars have repeatedly predicted the demise of regional (or peripheral) nationalism, from the late nineteenth century to the post-World War II period and in the 1990s. However, all suggestions about the death of regional nationalism have been proven wrong. On the contrary, nationalist movements in the West have not only survived advanced capitalist development in liberal democratic contexts but have thrived as well. In the developing world, decolonization gave rise to a variety of regional nationalist movements that frequently spiraled into violent conflict and secessionist attempts. To deal with regional nationalism, states often turned to devolution, resulting in the implementation of various schemes of autonomy, most of which came under the guise of federalism. Three trends characterize the literature on regional nationalism and its management through devolution: a change in the way regional nationalism is viewed; a transformation in the type of political, institutional, and constitutional response scholars have suggested toward regional nationalism; and a willingness to accept, or even favor, secession as a possible solution to conflict in multinational and/or multiethnic countries. At the same time, there are at least two challenges in the study of regional nationalism and its management: objectivity and the need to develop a greater comparative perspective.

Article

Mapp v. Ohio, the Exclusionary Rule, and Constitutional Judicial Review  

Morgan Cloud

Mapp v. Ohio is the US Supreme Court opinion that imposed the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule on the states. Mapp overruled earlier cases by holding that evidence obtained by unreasonable government searches and seizures was not admissible in state or local criminal prosecutions, just as it had long been inadmissible in federal cases. It is hard to overstate the impact of this decision, which changed the rules and procedures both for policing and for litigation in criminal cases throughout the United States. But Mapp’s significance extends beyond its specific holding. It adopted an interpretive method, often labeled “selective incorporation,” employed by the Supreme Court in subsequent decisions, that imposed specific provisions contained in the Bill of Rights, the first eight amendments to the Constitution upon the states. These decisions redefined federalism in the United States by establishing federal authority over government actions previously governed by state law. In the realm of search and seizure law, by requiring states to adhere to the Supreme Court’s search and seizure opinions, Mapp also generated potent political and legal opposition. In subsequent opinions the Supreme Court limited the exclusionary rule’s scope, diluting Mapp’s impact on police practices by reducing the situations in which federal constitutional rules required exclusion of evidence.

Article

Politometrics: Quantitative Models of Political Institutions  

Josep M. Colomer

Logical models and statistical techniques have been used for measuring political and institutional variables, quantifying and explaining the relationships between them, testing theories, and evaluating institutional and policy alternatives. A number of cumulative and complementary findings refer to major institutional features of a political process of decision-making: from the size of the assembly to the territorial structure of the country, the electoral system, the number of parties in the assembly and in the government, the government’s duration, and the degree of policy instability. Mathematical equations based on sound theory are validated by empirical tests and can predict precise observations.

Article

The Evolution of Same-Sex Marriage Policy in the United States  

Sarah Poggione

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that same-sex couples have the right to marry, and newspapers across the country declared that gay couples could now exercise this right in all 50 states. While the Obergefell decision was an important moment in history and a significant victory for the LGBT movement, it was not an immediate and complete change in policy. Rather, the change emerged slowly over decades from numerous complex interactions among federal, state, and local governmental actors. These same actors continue to influence marriage equality even after the Supreme Court’s historic ruling. A careful consideration of the path of marriage equality demonstrates the importance of federalism in the evolution of policy in the U.S. context. Not only does the extent of federal involvement influence state decision-making, but state policies also respond to the policymaking processes in other states. Examining the progression of marriage rights for same-sex couples also illustrates how variation in state government institutions shape policy outcomes in the U.S. system. For example, aspects of state courts such as judicial capacity influence the nature of state policy responses on the issue of gay marriage. Finally, focusing on marriage equality provides an opportunity to consider how institutions of government and political actors strategically interact to influence the policymaking process. For example, advocacy coalitions make strategic choices to focus on levels and institutions of government that are more responsive to their interests. Overall, same-sex marriage policy and the scholarship that investigates it highlight the complex and sometimes convoluted development that characterizes the policymaking process on many important issues in American politics and society.

Article

Subsidiarity as a Subject of Battle in European Union Politics  

Kees van Kersbergen and Bertjan Verbeek

Since the Maastricht Treaty (1993), subsidiarity has guided the political process surrounding the distribution of competences between administrative layers in the European Union (EU). The EU’s subsidiarity regime affects the politics and governance of the EU, because the notion of subsidiarity allows for continuous negotiation over its practical use. The constant battle over subsidiarity implies that the notion changes its meaning over time and alters the power relations between different actors within the EU. Since the Lisbon Treaty (2009), subsidiarity has mainly strengthened the position of member states at the expense of the Commission.

Article

Spain and the European Union  

Arantza Gomez Arana

The development of political and economic relations between Spain and the European Union commenced in 1970 with their first agreement and demonstrated the clear interest on the Spanish side to engage with this new Community. The full membership to the then European Community that took place in 1986, was previously supported by the Spanish political class when the country returned to democracy. In the more than three decades of membership, Spain has become the border of Europe in a key geopolitical part of the continent. It has contributed to the development of several Justice and Home Affairs measures and it has helped to the development of European external relations with other countries. Thirty-four years after joining the Community, history has demonstrated that Europhilia is still more important than any unintended consequences developed with the membership, including the Eurocrisis. Its roots could be found in Spain’s recent political and economic history, where isolationism and impoverishment dominated the country for most of the 20th century and the option of joining the Community was seen as a positive move against their political and economic problems. The membership has provided stability in some Spanish political and economic matters, but has not fully resolved the long-term and structural problems that this Iberian country suffers from. However, throughout this journey, Spain has held to a pro-EU sentiment, even in recent times, while other EU countries suffer from high levels of Euroscepticism. This chapter argues that despite some of the negative consequences of joining the European Union, Spain’s recent history has been too significant to transform its Europhilia into Europhobia.

Article

Federalism as a Theory of Regional Integration  

Søren Dosenrode

Federations have existed in a modern form since the constitution of the United States entered into force in 1789. Riker defines a federation as follows (1975, p. 101) “a political organization in which the activities of government are divided between regional governments and a central government in such a way that each kind of government has some activity on which it makes final decision.” The process of getting to the federation, the integration process, is best described as federalism. There is some agreement on the core of what a federation is, and some disagreement over whether to apply the term “federation” strictly to states and state-like actors or in a broader sense. Federations are concrete ways to organize government, but in many writings, they are also given positive attributes, such as enhanced democracy and efficiency, too. There are two ways to think about federalism: as a politico-ideological theory of action and as an academic theory of regional integration. The first theory is propagated by writers such as Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Jean Monnet, and Altiero Spinelli. This theory is of political rather than academic interest. Academic theories of regional integration are divided into two groups, following the common practice in international relations theory: liberal theories (by far the largest group) and realist theories. Federalism theory as a theory of regional integration was abandoned too early because, inter alia, it had been linked to the development of the European Community, which was in crisis from the mid-1970s till the mid-1980s. This was a mistake. Federalism theory provides the scholar with at least two tools. First, under the title “federation,” it introduces a large number of theories, methods, and empirical studies on how to analyze the European Union and other regional integration projects. Second, as a federalism theory, especially in the realist or the Riker-McKayian version, it provides a theory of how countries may unite peacefully. This approach must be developed in terms of (a) the concept of threat, which must be broadened to include economic, social, and cultural elements, and (b) the role of a basic common culture, which primarily facilitates the founding of the federation and constitutes the foundation securing the maintenance of the new federation. A brief analysis of the development of today’s European Union, following the realist approach, demonstrates that, broadly speaking, a correspondence exists between threat and the integration process: In times of threat, the process of integration and federalization advances; in periods of peace and no crisis, the integration process stagnates.

Article

Future Scenarios of the European Union  

Brigid Laffan

Debate on the future of the European Union (EU) never abates because the Union is a polity characterized by considerable change in its internal and external environment. Scenarios are an important tool in mapping possible futures for the Union as they bring underlying trends into focus. Four scenarios on the future of the EU are presented: disintegration, piecemeal adjustment, functional federalism, and a United States of Europe. The political and policy battle concerning the future of the Union is between scenario piecemeal adjustment, the dominant response to the crisis and to events on Europe’s borders, and functional federalism, defined as more integration but in defined fields. Piecemeal adjustment represents a Union that muddles through, incremental reform, whereas functional federalism represents a Union that garners sufficient political capacity to be more strategic in particular functional areas. Systemic disintegration is regarded as unlikely, but partial disintegration may occur because of the exit of the United Kingdom, challenges to a number of EU regimes, and the threats to the Union’s normative order from some member states. A united states of Europe, is highly unlikely as the member states are not in favor of transforming the Union into a state-like federation. The degree of contestation about the future of the EU precludes a transformation of the system at this juncture. Three intervening factors will have a major impact on the future of the EU: the profound changes in the global environment, turbulent politics in the member states, and the Franco-German relationship as a source of leadership in the Union.

Article

Public Opinion and Public Support in Crisis Management  

Zoe Ang, Benjamin S. Noble, and Andrew Reeves

In times of crisis, citizens look to their leaders for aid and assistance. In the democratic context, the focal figure is likely the chief executive accountable to the whole of the nation. With a specific focus on the American president and the incidences of natural hazards, public opinion and governmental response to these crises are analyzed. While one may expect such a universal actor to aid each according to their need, new scholarship finds that voter behavior and electoral institutions incentivize the president to support only a small slice of the electorate. Empowered by federal disaster relief legislation in the 1950s, the president targets electorally valuable voters when disbursing aid or allocating resources in response to disaster damage. Voters in those areas respond myopically and tend to vote for the incumbent for reasons ranging from economic to emotional. Thus, elites anticipate voter reactions and strategically respond to disasters to mitigate blame or punishment for the event and capitalize on an opportunity for electoral gains.

Article

Federalism and Regional Politics in Africa  

Asnake Kefale

During the anticolonial struggle and immediately after independence, African political leaders were preoccupied with the creation of a “nation-state.” As a result, many of postcolonial African leaders not only promoted national unity but also instituted centralized governance. Unity and centralization were considered important antidotes to the challenges of consolidating postcolonial states, which by and large were created by the partitioning of the continent by colonial powers. As a result, many of the postcolonial leaders were hostile to federalism in general and power-sharing in particular. This explains why many of the federal arrangements, which were created by departing colonial powers, were dismantled within the first few years after independence. In contrast to the earlier periods, the 1990s could be regarded as a turning point for federalism and devolution of power in the continent. Among African states, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa could be considered fully fledged federations, which have constitutionally devolved power to different tiers of governments. There is also an ongoing attempt to establish a federal system in war-torn Somalia. Some argue that, although federalism does not have a stellar record in postcolonial Africa, it is possible to contend that in the foreseeable future the importance of federalism will grow in the continent given the challenges that many African countries face in the management of their ethnolinguistic diversity. This is evidenced by the increasing application of the federalist principles of decentralization by several African countries.

Article

Nigeria: Regional Politics and Dynamics  

Oliver Owen

The politics of Nigeria have often been considered a matter of managing social diversity in a political economy whose extremes have been exaggerated by oil money. But this story is incomplete without thinking instead more deeply about inequality, about political party origins and ideologies as well as identities, and about politics beyond parties and elections. Bureaucracy, mass mobilization, and everyday practice are equally important issues in Nigerian politics as the country moves through another economic transformation. Nigeria’s political structures have been built around questions of managing diversity and allocating resources, and the country’s federal system embeds a tension between how much power is managed from the center and how much is devolved to the constituent states and local governments. As well as parties, legislatures, and executives, security institutions have been prominent in the country’s political formation, and public institutions are both formed around, and are vectors of forming, elite social networks. Partly due to long-standing models of social legitimacy and partly as a result of the kind of identity politics Nigeria has chosen to manage diversity, models of citizenship based on localized belonging are pervasive drivers of political patterning. Political factions and parties, often characterized as election-winning aggregations of patron-client networks, also however embed distinct historical ideological traditions, which chart Nigeria’s movements between liberal capitalism and state-directed development and which have driven both domestic debates and a continental and regional leadership role. Tensions around inequalities and the realm of the political more generally cannot be understood as a matter of governmental institutions alone but bring in religion, gender construction, labor movements, the media, civil society, and new social movements, as well as the “ineffable politics” of tactic, techniques, norms, and practices that fix the realm of the political as a key part of everyday social and economic life.

Article

Managing Ethnicity in African Politics  

Christof Hartmann

Political regulation of ethnicity has been a core dimension of state-building in Africa, and a set of different macro-political strategies was applied in African postcolonial states to deal with ethnic heterogeneity. One set of strategies consisted in attempts to completely eliminate political manifestations of ethnicity, violently through genocide (Rwanda, 1994) or mass expulsions of ethnic minorities (Uganda, 1973), consensually through secession of autonomous provinces (Eritrea, 1993; South Sudan, 2005), through legal instruments that ban the political expression of ethnic identity such as party bans, or via coercive variants of assimilation (Rwanda, 2001). An opposing option promoted the formal recognition of ethnicity through consociationalism (Burundi, 2005), ethnic federalism (Ethiopia, 1995), ethnic minority rights (Mauritius), or hegemonic control (apartheid South Africa). Many African countries have instead opted for an informal accommodation of ethnic identity in politics, which combines the pursuit of civic nationalism and ethnic party bans with a de facto recognition of ethnic group rights through informal power-sharing, centripetal institutions, or variants of federalism which shift resources and competencies to subnational levels. The choice of strategies is, however, constrained by how interethnic relations have been shaped in the process of postcolonial state-building. Both strategies of elimination and of formal recognition are applied in ranked societies where one racial or ethnic group managed to take control of the state and in which class corresponded with ethnic affiliation. South Africa, which also belonged to this group, seems to be the only country where a liberal model of civic nation is pursued along with a strong recognition of the country’s diversity in the political and constitutional architecture.

Article

Hannah Arendt and International Relations  

Shinkyu Lee

International relations (IR) scholars have increasingly integrated Hannah Arendt into their works. Her fierce critique of the conventional ideas of politics driven by rulership, enforcement, and violence has a particular resonance for theorists seeking to critically revisit the basic assumptions of IR scholarship. Arendt’s thinking, however, contains complexity and nuance that need careful treatment when extended beyond domestic politics. In particular, Arendt’s vision of free politics—characterized by the dualistic emphasis on agonistic action and institutional stability—raises two crucial issues that need further elaboration for IR research that appropriates her thinking. One involves the orientation of her international thoughts. Although Arendt showed “idealistic” aspirations for authentic politics practiced by diverse equals in an institutionally articulated space of freedom, she never lost interest in the extant situation of “non-idealistic” politics. Engaging with Arendt’s theory orientation requires a careful analysis of difficult topics, such as her distinctive conception of the political and her critiques of the nation-state and international law. The other topic that needs clarification when Arendt’s thoughts are applied to IR involves specific ways of associating different sites of power. A close examination of Arendt’s council-based federalism reveals her distinctive idea of international politics, based on her acute awareness of the fundamental complexity that lies in power association and state agency. Bringing IR topics like state agency into conversation with her works generates illuminating questions for Arendt scholarship. Likewise, the ongoing debate on agonistic and institutional features of Arendt’s thoughts can provide crucial insights into critical studies of international politics.