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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Price: $69.95

Hardback 528 pp.
6" x 9"



Publication date:
July 2015

Imprint: OUP Canada

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Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems

Johanne Poirier, Cheryl Saunders and John Kincaid

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.

This book was undertaken as a joint project of the Forum of Federations, an international network on federalism that seeks to strengthen democratic governance by promoting dialogue on the functioning of federalism, and the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies, an association of centres and institutes throughout the world that maintain a research and teaching focus on political systems that have federal features.

Readership : Students and scholars of political science, comparative politics, democracy, and peace studies will find this comparative study of political parties in federated systems a key reference tool.

Introduction: Comparing Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems
1. Intergovernmental Relations in Argentina: Systematic Confusion and Predominance of the Centre
2. Intergovernmental Relations in Australia: Increasing Engagement within a Centralizing Dynamic
3. Intergovernmental Relations in Austria:Co-operative Federalism as Counterweight to Centralized Federalism
4. Intergovernmental Relations in Brazil: An Unequal Federation with Symmetrical Arrangements
5. Intergovernmental Relations in Canada: Competing Visions and Diverse Dynamics
6. The European Union: From International Relations to Intergovernmental Relations
7. Intergovernmental Relations in the Federal Republic of Germany: Complex Co-operation and Party Politics
8. Intergovernmental Relations in India: From Centralization to Decentralization
9. Nigeria: Struggling to Formalize and Decentralize Intergovernmental Relations
10. Constructing a Developmental State in South Africa: The Corporatization of Intergovernmental Relations
11. Intergovernmental Relations in Spain: An Essential but Underestimated Element of the State of Autonomies
12. Intergovernmental Relations in Switzerland: An Unfamiliar Term for a Necessary Concept
13. Intergovernmental Relations in the United States in an Age of Partisanship and Executive Assertiveness
Conclusion: Comparative Experiences of Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems

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Johanne Poirier is Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism at the Faculty of Law, McGill University.

Cheryl Saunders is Laureate Professor Emeritus of Law at Melbourne Law School.

John Kincaid is Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and Director of the Meyner Center, Lafayette College.

Political Parties and Civil Society in Federal Countries - Wolfgang Renzsch, Klaus Detterbeck and John Kincaid
Internal Markets and Multi-level Governance - Edited by George Anderson

Special Features

  • Joint project brings together many experts. The Forum of Federations is an international network; the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies (IACFS) is an association of centres and institutes throughout the world.
  • Reflects a worldwide interest in federalism. A majority of nation-states are multinational, multilingual, multireligious, and/or multicultural. Understanding the interactions between political bodies within these states helps us understand the twin trends of globalization and regionalization evident throughout today's world.
  • Diverse, comparative study. Each chapter provides an overview of its country's arrangements, institutions, and practices.
  • Important conclusions. This large-scale study sheds light on how opposition parties can challenge one-party hegemony in a federal state, as well as the decline of traditional party allegiances.
  • Rigorous methodology. Following a multi-stage process, an internationally comprehensive set of questions covering institutional provisions and how they work in practice were drawn from current research on the topic. This became the template that guided roundtable discussions in each country.
  • Worldwide scope. From countries with well-established traditions to more recent or "new" democracies, this comparative investigation helps understand the role of intergovernmental relations in a range of federal systems.
  • Reveals widespread variation. The interaction between different levels of government is marked by difference across the board; this volume samples that diversity, revealing what works and what does not.