The federalism indicates:
the theory of the Federal state, the point of view of the constitutional law;
- the operation of the Federal states, in particular from the political and social point of view;
- of political philosophies;
- in the broad sense, any shape of social organization combining the existence of a center and the maintenance of the autonomy of the entities members.
When it relates to a form of organization of the State, it is opposed, with the unit State. The distribution of the capacities is then made between federate States and Federal state, according to the methods organized by a federal constitution. A federation can be born from the meeting of several States within the same Federal state or by the scission of a unit State in several federate entities. The official duality thus created returns to a double honesty of the citizens: one with regard to the Federation, the other with regard to the Member State as the American intellectuals at the origin of the modern design of the federalism explained it such Alexander Hamilton, whose task precisely consisted in exceeding the dogma of the absolute unit of the State which remains valid for the unit States.
The word " fédéralisme" comes from Latin foedus , alliance, him even derived from fides , the sworn faith.
Montesquieu sees in the Esprit of the laws of the examples of federative republics in the quoted of ancient Greece, companies of companies, the polished joining together villages, and the cities themselves forming of the confederations.
However the federalism with the modern direction of the term comes initially from the Suisse, then the United States. The permanent defensive pact between the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwald, concludes in 1291 is at the origin of the Swiss Confederation (see Histoire of Switzerland). The modern Federal state appears with the Constitution of the United States of America in 1787 which succeeds the Confédération of 1777. Switzerland adopts itself a federal constitution in 1848.
The federalism was the name given in 1792 and 1793 to the intention which one lent to the Girondin S to form department of the France as many equal States in rights and to connect them between them against Paris to destroy the preponderance of the capital. In spite of the disorders which at that time agitated the West and the South, it does not appear that this project existed.
The theory of the Federal state
According to G.Scelle, a federation is characterized by:
the principle of separation: official competences are distributed between federal government and governments of the federate States;
- the principle of autonomy: each government order is autonomous, or " souverain" in its field of jurisdiction;
- the principle of participation: the federate entities are represented and take part in the federal decisions taken, often by the bicameral system on the level of the Federal state. One of the rooms then represents the federate States.
The details of implementation of these principles varies considerably from one Federal state to another. A constitution formally federal does not prejudge necessarily in practice degrees more or less high of Centralisme nor of Démocratie.
Federation and confederation
See also: Confederation (political organization)
The distinction between the two concepts is sometimes delicate, more especially as Switzerland preserved the Swiss name of Confederation even after it had been equipped dune federal constitution. The international law allows a simple distinction: the Member States of a confederation remain States from the point of view of the international law whereas only the Federal state has this statute for a federation.
From a legal point of view,
- a confederation of States answers a horizontal logic. The confederated States all, equal, will join on certain points by the means of an international treaty. The States remain unit States and preserve all their sovereignty, it acts only of transfers of competence;
- a federation answers a vertical logic, which can be:
- downward, i.e. a unit State will be divided into several federate States;
- ascending, i.e. unit States will create, by the means of a constitution, a State which is higher to them, the Federal state.
In a confederation, there exist bodies common to the various States, without creation of a Federal state.
From the point of view of the nationals (or citizens) of the State, there will be thus doubles citizenship in a Federal state.
The confederations appear sometimes provisional and a stage towards the ascending federalisation. The common bodies acquire competences and legitimacy gradually. One can quote the American and Swiss cases in particular, where a Confederation preceded the adoption by federal constitutions. But certain confederations burst in several independent States like the Confederation between the Senegal and the Mali, the confederation formed by the French Communauté, the confederation formed by the Norway and the Sweden, the confederation linking the Malaysia and Singapore…
The distinction between a federation and a confederation proves more delicate in practice than it is it in theory, because these political associations are always single.
It is the case in particular of the European Union, whose nature is rather fuzzy today, because it remains in construction:
- for the second and third pillars, intergovernmental logic indicates that the Union would be rather a confederation;
- for the first pillar, most important, there are real transfers of sovereignty to the Union (to be able to beat currency…). But the Union is an entity sui generis : it is more than one confederation, where it does not have entity created with the top of the States, but it is not as advanced as the federation, where there is creation of a Federal state (the Union does not have the legal personality of international law).
It happens that a State is divided into several federate States (downward logic) to form a federation (case of Belgium and that of Italy whose federalism is with the state of project) or of the Spain (which all while saying a unit State has almost all the characteristics of the Federal state), even of the United Kingdom. The Germany also became a unit State under the reign of Hitler to become again a Federal state after the war. It also happens that one passes from a Federal state to a Confederation as it was the case with the Communauté of the independent States which succeeded the the USSR.
Each structure has advantages and disadvantages:
- a confederation leaves more freedom to the confederated States (in particular on the rupture of the pact of association), in particular because it limits the direct representations near the common bodies.
- a federation allows moreover more easily making decisions, because decision making is made by principle in the majority, while in a confederation, there are often the blockings which had with the fact that a big number of decisions suppose the unanimity of the federate States.
Federalism and decentralization
One should not confuse federalism and decentralization, even if certain States practice a thorough decentralization indeed leads to an operation close to that of a federation.
The difference between a strongly decentralized unit State (Decentralization, Devolution, Regionalism…), and a Federal state holds in the source of the capacity: in a decentralized State, it is deputy by the State with the areas (Dévolution) by a law (it can thus theoretically theirs begin again), while in a Federal state, it is envisaged by a constitution and cannot be modified also easily).
The Italy evolves also gradually to the federalism. A constitutional reform which proposed in 2006 aimed to juridically transform the current decentralized République unit into a true Federal republic.
The the United Kingdom granted competences to the Scotland, currently directed by freedom fighters, with the Wales and Northern Ireland. The England (in a strict sense), which joins together the essence of the population of the country does not aspire however to autonomy. This institutional situation allows thus the elected officials Scot sitting at the House of Commons to vote on laws applying in England but not in Scotland where the Scottish Parliament is qualified.
Federal states in the world
See also: Federal state
One counts today 25 Federal states in the world which gather around 40% of the world population.
The federal modes most known are: the the United States, the Canada (in spite of its name of “Canadian Confederation”), the Germany (" The Federal Republic of Germany "), the Swiss (in spite of its name of Swiss Confederation ), the Belgium, the Mexico, the India.
Among the great States of the European Union, only the France maintains an organization strictly unit free from any federalism but tends to develop a careful Décentralisation. The constitutional revision of the March 28th 2003 registered the decentralized character and its consequences in the Constitution.
The operation of the Federal states
Including/understanding internal communities and a total community to which are allocate distinct responsibilities, the Federal state is founded on a will to live together in the majority in the field of her competences. The total community is made up in unit like the internal communities and to act, incarnates itself in a federal government.
Relations of being ableIn practice, the Federal state control the States (federate), and vice versa. The State S take part in the decisions, but collectively and not individually (Sénat of the United States, Bundesrat of Germany).
A particular case is that of the Belgian federalism, where the federate entities are not controlled by the federal capacity, but place themselves on the same level as this one, including for the foreign relations. Competences of the Belgian areas are prolonged on the international scene.
One of the main features of the federal systems is a form of Bicamérisme based on the existence of important political bodies associating the citizens of the federate States (Lower House), and not only the States (Upper House). For example the Room of the representatives of the United States, the the Bundestag of Germany and the Swiss National council.
Federalism and democracy: the principle of the federalism being an organization based on balance between centers of competitor capacity it is difficult to consider an indeed federal operation without pluralism which only allows indeed the participation of entities federated the decisions of the capacity power station. Thus the formal federalism of the Soviet Union saw in practice a very centralized design of the capacity to prevail, this one being entrusted to the Communist party.
The system in favor in the federations is often particular since the great parties which act at the federal level to them-even are often organized under the articles same manner. The system in favor of certain federate States can even be very different from the system in favor federal in particular in the case of an asymmetrical federalism.
The distribution of competences
Each federate State is equipped with competences, and a clean organization defined by the federal Constitution.
The partisans of the federalism estimate that this one makes it possible as well as possible to apply the principle of Subsidiarité according to which competences must be allotted to the level low where they can be exerted effectively.
According to the cases, the federalism is symmetrical (all the federate entities have identical capacities) or asymmetrical (the capacities can differ from one entity to another, following particular agreements: case for example of the Quebec in Canada). In certain Federal states as the Belgium competences are Exclusive competences and the relations between the Federal state and the federate State are founded on the équipollence of the standards, principle which can be beaten in breach in other Federal states like Canada in the name of the capacity to spend which, in the facts, cancels the theoretically marked exclusiveness in competences.
In general, the Foreign affairs, the Currency, the National defense, and the broad outlines of the economy are spring of the federation (they are competences known as kingly). The Teaching, the businesses Culture it, the police force, the regional Administration are spring of the federate States.
But it can appear conflicts between federated States, or the federation and of the States. The Swiss and the United States of America thus knew civil wars, dependant on divergent interpretations of the obligations born of the treaties creating these federations. In Switzerland, the civil war known as Guerre of Sonderbund of short duration took place in 1847, whereas it was still a confederation while in the USA the war took place whereas the country had become a Federal state for a certain time, but some still read the Constitution like founding a confederal mode and the American Civil War was preceded by the proclamation by independence in certain States by the south.
Process and actors
Many democratic countries adopted the federalism or of the modes close to this one.
In Western Europe, France built on the constitutional principle of the " Republic one and indivisible" is a relative exception. A federal evolution, or would be this only one evolution towards more decentralization, would thus suppose a revision of the constitution.
A federal evolution of Europe would also suppose a constitution " ad hoc " , applicable either to all the European Union, or at the beginning with a " core dur" country wishing such an integration.
France is a kind of model of the unit State and it is compared to it, considering the importance and the universality of the French political model, which one can best define the federalism in the point of view of the citizen. Bernard Barthalay still estimated into 1981 that the fact for any individual on the territory of the federation of being citizen twice or, better, citizen on the same basis at the same time of the Member State and the federation without any hierarchy between these two positions makes it possible to include/understand precisely which is the fundamental defect of the idea of nation: exclusiveness. In a national State (...), it is not possible to carry its regional or European identity as his national identity is carried. . The same author expressed then this way (which undoubtedly does not take account of the current evolutions like the practice of the Head of the French State on television to be expressed with at its sides as well the national flag as the European flag, nor of the recognition like nations of entities federated like the Catalogne or the Quebec): With the quality of French sticks an exclusiveness, which subordinates the membership of any group to him. However this exclusiveness - this not-to want or this not-capacity being citizen at the same time of his own State and a group of States and in extreme cases the world - is anything else only the state of war considered under the individual angle. . Examples of the European engagement of the majority of the French political actors or recognition of nations inside Federal states (like Canada or Spain, even if Spain is not - theoretically - not a Federal state), that the situation developed considerably.
One distinguishes two great designs from the federalism:
- the federalism institutional and democratic , known as " Hamiltonian " , is centered on the organization and the democratic operation of the federal institutions, without involving itself in ideologies and political programs which concern the free choice of the citizens by the means of these institutions.
the integral, or total Fédéralisme is a design of the federalism which exceeds the only theory of the Federal state but which in fact a political philosophy with whole share, derived from the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, practice of the organizations resulting from the currents of the revolutionary Syndicalisme and Anarcho-syndicalisme, and also of the Personnalisme and social Christianity.
Emmanuel Kant poses in 1795 in Towards perpetual peace the bases of a philosophy of the federalism at the time same where in America the first Federal state is constituted. Peace can according to him exist truly only if one organization of the federal type frames the States, thus depriving them of the capacity to start wars.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon extends the idea of federalism to the fields economic and social. He preaches the appropriation of the means of production by the individuals who use them and not their collectivization by the State. He indeed recognizes the property like a brake with the official absolute power and thus a force guaranteeing freedoms in so far as one cannot allot the fruit of the work of others. The federative principle is thus opposed primarily for Proudhon to the Centralisme and like a means of making prevail the right on the force.
Federalism and separation of the capacitiesThe analysis of Montesquieu of the federalism, and later that of Tocqueville, consists of the institutionalization of counterweight policies. One speaks then about vertical separation of the capacities.
Geographical extensionOne discussed, since the federal idea exists, and the Mondialisation accelerated this reflection, of opportunity of extending this concept, by proposing it like a type of Gouvernance applicable to the scale of the continents, even of the world.
the world Fédéralisme for its part aims at seeking a total governorship even a world Gouvernement functioning according to the principles of the federalism. Organizations act as this direction like World Federalist Movement, centered on the reform of UNO.
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