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THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Sharing power at the center.

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Presentation on theme: "THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Sharing power at the center."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Sharing power at the center

2 Organization of session Forum of Federations video, Module 2, Sharing Power at the Centre Lecture: theory and comparison Discussion: strengths and weaknesses of the Iraqi constitutional design in light of comparative experience CRC and UNAMI comment

3 Building in Building out – empowering groups through the creation of strong, effective regional governments Building in– strengthening unity through the ways in which the central government is designed and operated Give regions sense of ownership, belonging in national government Eases fear of slippery slope

4 Principles In a diverse society, it is critical that the central government be: Representative of all groups and sectors of society Inclusive -- everyone must have a voice in the national government Effective – able to make and implement policies that serve the whole country Legitimate in the eyes of citizens and other governments Article 49: All components of the people to be represented

5 Majority rule and power sharing In a diverse society, simple majority rule means that minorities may be excluded, marginalized This may make central government illegitimate in eyes of minorities Result may be minority rejection of democratic practice; or minorities turn to regional governments to protect them from majority tyranny at the center Power sharing at the center is a primary unifying device in divided systems; strengthens, not weakens central government

6 Power-sharing and institutions Institutional arrangements affect the ability of the central government to be inclusive and representative. These include: How central governments are selected: electoral systems and political parties How they are organized: presidential and parliamentary systems One party or coalition cabinets The role of second chambers specifically designed to represent regions Judicial systems Representative bureaucracies

7 Electoral systems/1 Comparative literature agreed on: Proportional systems better able to represent minorities. Even small groups can get seats and a voice in legislature. Single member systems (Canada, UK) can create large distortions between votes and seats. Can create a government with only minority support, or that lacks representation from important groups and regions. (Canada sometimes) Create one-party cabinets that may represent only majority group

8 Electoral systems/2 PR systems tend to create multi-party coalition cabinets: big benefit – more inclusive May make formation of government and development of clear, coherent policy difficult– a dilemma May lead to many small parties appealing to narrow interests, and weaken parties that seek broad cross-group coalitions Which is the right trade-off in divided societies; in Iraq? PR is chosen: right decision?

9 Organization of Government/1 Basic distinction is between parliamentary and presidential systems Power concentrated vs. power dispersed: big question given Iraqs history Comparative research suggests parliamentary systems work best in diverse societies. Why? Presidential system may place too much power in hands of a member of one group; parliamentary spreads power more

10 Organization of Government/2 But there are many variants on these models In presidential systems the rules can require that the president be elected only with broad support across regions (Nigeria) Or have a shared presidency, or a rotating presidency, or rules that distribute leadership positions across groups (as in Switzerland and Iraq today Again no one model meets the larger goals of inclusion, proportionality, legitimacy Iraq: history suggested a weak president -- too weak?

11 Organization of government/3 The organization of Cabinets and Ministers: In single party cabinets, danger that important regions are left out Less danger of this in coalition cabinets May be legal requirements for representative cabinets (e.g. South Africa Government of National Unity); or informal norms and traditions. E.g. Canada: strong tradition of representing each province in cabinet; increasing tradition of ensuring representation of other groups (women, new Canadians, aboriginal peoples, etc.)

12 Organization of government/3 The public administration It is critical that the non-elected central government officials, civil servants, be: – Representative of all the major groups in the society – Able to serve all the members of the society in their own language, and in culturally sensitive ways – Hence importance of recruitment, training, language use in the public service – Recall Belgium – proportionality in representation – plus language ability – Plus linguistically homogeneous regions

13 Organization of Government/4 The judiciary In a federal system, a crucial role for the judiciary is to act as umpire between orders of government Therefore must be seen as impartial Courts as servants of constitution and citizens, not as servant of government. Not servant of any one government Key issues: appointment of judges (by whom); regional representation on court; jurisdiction; independence; dual or unified legal system Legitimacy, enforcement

14 Second chambers in federal systems/1 Senates in Canada, US, Australia, etc. Bundesrat in Germany, National Council of the Provinces (South Africa), etc. Second chambers vary in terms of: – Method of selection – Distribution of seats – Term lengths – Powers – Role in the federal system

15 Second chamber roles In a federal system: To help central government pay attention to regional interests To ensure regional representation at center To give greater weight to smaller regions To assist in coordination, cooperation between regional and central governments – in some countries, plays an important role in intergovernmental relations

16 Many other roles for second chambers Second chambers are not only an element of federalism. They also serve other roles: Check on tyranny or majority– separation of powers Chambers of sober second thought (Canada) Ratification of treaties Preserving independence of Electoral Commission and other such agencies Representation of other minorities: aboriginal peoples, immigrants, etc.

17 Second Chambers/2 Methods of selection: Appointment: – By the central government – Canada. Failure, calls for reform in Canada – By the regional or provincial governments. Germany (Bundesrat); South Africa (NCOP) – Primary role of provincial appointment: intergovernmental coordination; provincial voice in national framework legislation – Represents governments, not people

18 Second Chambers/3 Methods of selection: elected Represents people, not governments; seems more democratic US, Australia, Iraq Method and timing of elections is critical If same as lower house, Senate likely simply to duplicate the lower House and make little contributionquestion for Iraq? Hence – usually different election systems; different term lengths, etc. May link to provincial not federal elections

19 The German Bundesrat A fully federal body Members are regional executives Designed to achieve intergovernmental coordination In a system with many shared powers Weaknesses in terms of democracy? A useful trade off? Borrowed by South Africa --NCOP

20 Second Chambers/4 Numbers Distribution of seats in representative chamber (COR) is proportional to population Second House may be used to temper the power of larger units, and to give greater voice to smaller units Methods: equal representation of regions (US) – two Senators per state, large or small Greater weight for smaller provinces, but not equality. (Canada, Germany, Australia) Illuustates double role of equality in federations – equality of individuals, equality of constituent units

21 Second Chambers/5 Powers: Equal to first chamber – e.g. US. Potential problems: deadlock in divided government; departure from majority rule Equal to first chamber, with over-ride. First Chamber can over-ride laws or amendments by second chamber, usually with a super-majority Limited powers – role of second chamber focused on laws by central government that have major effects on units. Germany, South Africa

22 Second chambers/6 Length of term: Same as lower House Longer terms -- US Life (to 75) Canada

23 Canada debates Senate reform Method of appointment: federal. Seen as illegitimate Result: equal powers in law; not in practice Alternatives: election, provincial appointment Numbers: fast-growing regions want more representation; some want equal representation like US Terms: proposals for shorter – 8-10 years Representation of different interests: women, Aboriginals, immigrants, etc.

24 The Federation Council in Iraq /1 Not well-developed in 2005 constitution CRC improvements: – Will be in constitution, not a creation of the Council of Representatives – Will be elected (not representatives of regional governments). Pro and con. – Provides for larger representation of smaller units, but without detail – Term of office: 4 years. Less than most federations.

25 The Federation Council/2 Powers: Can propose laws Can consider laws related to regions and Governorates – not all laws. How decide? If Council and Representatives cannot agree, COR may prevail with 2/3 majority Must approve appointments to major judicial positions, and Chairpersons of major independent institutions Questions: Has the CRC got it right? UNAMI: Big improvement. But indirect election better. Region/governorate distinction unclear.

26 Conclusions Basic point: to be effective the central government must be fully representative and reflect principles of power-sharing At the same time a national government needs to be able to make national decisions, articulate national goals, and provide leadership to the whole country Are these roles undermined, or promoted, by the representative, power-sharing model?

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