Comparative Federalism: A Systematic Inquiry

Comparative Federalism: A Systematic Inquiry

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By Thomas O. Hueglin and Alan Fenna
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2005
World Rights
390 Pages
ISBN 9781551114101
Published Dec 2005
Online discount: 20%
 $42.95    $34.36

Comparative Federalism: A Systematic Inquiry is a uniquely comprehensive, analytic, genuinely comparative, and detailed introduction to the study of federalism in theory and practice. Thomas Hueglin and Alan Fenna draw from their diverse research on federal systems to argue that federalism is increasingly important for democratic governance and conflict management in a globalizing world. They discuss the meaning of federal principles and institutional compromise in the organization of federal systems and then introduce four main model federal systems: America, Canada, Germany, and the European Union. But they don’t stop there—they also offer an exploration of federal systems that vary from the four main models, including Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, South Africa, and Spain.

The book also compares federal systems through an examination of the differing European and North American traditions in the history of federal thought. Institutional features of federal systems are evaluated, as are the crucial role that constitutional amendment and judicial review play for the stability and evolutionary dynamic of federal systems. This book serves the dual role of helping the reader understand federalism and providing a comparative framework from which to assess the record of federal systems.

Thomas O. Hueglin is Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Alan Fenna is Professor of Politics at Curtin University in Western Australia.


1. The Relevance of Federalism in a Changing World

The Case for Federalism
Emerging Federalism in the European Union
Federalism and Globalization
Old Nation-states and New Federalism
Federalism and Multinational Conflict Management
The Federal Experience

2. Federal Principles, Federal Organization

What is Federalism?
Group Identity
Divided Powers
Constitutional Guarantees
Negotiating Compromise
Social Solidarity

3. Federal Systems

Analytic Criteria
Models and Variations
Contextual Variables

4. Three Traditions of Federal Thought

Consociational Federalism in Early Modern Europe
Republican Federalism in the Eighteenth Century
Socio-economic Federalism in the Nineteenth Century and Beyond

5. The Formation of Federal States

The Federal Compromise: Explanatory Perspectives
Emergence of the Basic Models
Imitations and Variations
Devolutionary Federalism

6. Dividing Powers

The American Experiment
Canada: Centralist Intentions
Germany: The Administrative Model
Imitations and Variations

7. Federalism as a System of Dual Representation

Design Options
The American Senate Model
Canada: A Case of Pseudo-Bicameralism
Germany: The Federal Solution
The European Union: A Case of Second Chamber Governance
Imitations and Variations

8. Intergovernmental Relations

Patterns of Cooperation
"Federal-Provincial Diplomacy" in Canada
Intergovernmentalism and Council Governance in Australia
"Cooperative" Federalism in the United States
A Different Approach: Integrated Federalism

9. Constitutional Amendment

Amendment Procedures
Constitutional Permanence in the United States
Canada: Patriation Games
Constitutional Flexibility in Germany
The EU: Maintaining Confederal Consent
Variations: Back to the People
Quebec and Canada: Secession as Constitutional Amendment

10. Judicial Review

The Courts and the Constitution
The United States: Invention and Limits of Judicial Review
Canada: Imperial Versus Home-Grown Judicial Review
Germany: Pragmatic Legalism
The EU: Judicial Creation of Supranationality
Variations and Exceptions

11. Federal Governance

How Should Federations Manage Policy Responsibilities?
The Power to Tax
The Power to Spend
Sharing the Wealth
How Do Federations Manage Policy Responsibilities?


This is a thoughtful, well-organized review of a subject of ever-increasing importance—the resurgence of the federal idea. From the debate about Europe to the struggles in Iraq and Sudan, federalism is undergoing a revival. The authors' review of key issues is at once scholarly and readable, and makes a critical contribution to our understanding of how federal systems actually work in practice.

The Honourable Bob Rae, 21st Premier of Ontario, Fellow of the Forum of Federations, and Partner, Goomdans Law Firm

Readable and accessible as an undergraduate text, this book succeeds at a deeper level. It is both an elucidation of the history and theory of federalist ideas and institutions, and a powerful statement of the relevance of these ideas in a contemporary world driven both by global integration and by the affirmation of regional and local identities. It goes beyond the comparative analysis of established federations to explore the relevance of federal ideas in a wide variety of contexts from the European Union to new federal experiments around the world.

Richard Simeon, FRSC, Political Science and Law, University of Toronto

This is a highly sophisticated treatment of federalism as an approach to the organisation of government in the twenty-first century. The authors deal confidently and well with the theory and practice of federalism; with highly diverse federal systems in Europe, North America, and Australia; and with both national and supra-national polities that are influenced by federal principle, whether formally constituted as federations or not. The claim that the book is a "systematic inquiry" is well justified. It will be of interest and use to scholars and practitioners of federalism alike.

Cheryl Saunders, University of Melbourne