8 questions on "Multilevel politics - Subnational politics - Federal systems"

What is the scope of a federal system?
Sovereignty is shared between central and peripheral level with checks and balances
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What is the central feature of a federal state?
A sharing of sovereignty between central and peripheral institutions.
Federal systems are based on a compromise between unity and regional diversity, between the need for effective central power and the need for checks or constraints on that power.
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What are different kinds of federal systems?
- Executive federalism: federal balance largely determined by the relationship between the executives of each level of government.
- Administrative federalism: central government as the key policy-maker, and the provincial government is charged with responsibility for policy implementation.
- Dual federalism: federal and state/provincial government occupy separate and seemingly indestructible spheres of policy power.
-  Fiscal federalism: federal balance is largely determined by funding arrangements, especially transfer payments from the centre to the periphery.
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What are the characteristics of federalism?
1) political communities came together, but wanted to preserve their identities and autonomy
2) the existence of an external threat or a desire to play a more effective role in international affairs
3) geographical size
4) cultural and ethnic heterogenity
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What are factors influencing the formation of federal states?
- Federations have often been formed by the coming together of a number of established political communities that still wish to preserve their separate identities (f.e. USA)
- The existence of an external threat, or a desire to play a more effective role in international affairs.
- Geographical size: geographically large states tend to be culturally diverse and often possess strong regional traditions (this creates greater pressure for decentralization and the dispersal of power.
- Cultural and ethnic heterogeneity: federalism has often been an institutional response to societal divisions and diversities.
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What are the four features of federalism?
1) two relatively autonomous levels of government
2) a written constitution
3) a constitutional arbiter => the Supreme Court
4) linking constitutions => a shared parliament
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What is executive federalism?
A style of federalism in which the federal balance is largely determined by the relationship between the executives of each level of government.
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What is are the advantages of federal systems?
- They give regional and local interests a constitutionally guaranteed political voice (something unitary systems do not have).

- In diffusing government power, it creates a network of checks and balances that helps protect individual liberty (constraining national politicians).
        --> However, structures intended to create healthy tension within a system of government may also generate frustration and paralysis. One of the weaknesses of federal systems is that, by constraining central authority, they make the implementation of bold economic or social programs more difficult.

- Federalism has provided an institutional mechanism through which fractured societies have maintained unity and coherence.
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