Federalism in Action – Nepal’s Local Elections 2022: Two Steps Forward but One Step Back?

Author: Sagar Manandhar – Nepal held local elections on May 13, 2022, giving Nepali voters the opportunity to participate in local government by electing new representatives for five-year terms. This is the second local election held since the adoption of the new federal constitution in 2015.

Federalism: Boon or Bane for Childcare? A Look at the Global North and Global South

Author: Angelina Romanchik – Childcare is emerging as a key area of policy interest for many governments across the globe, particularly in the wake of the pressures that the COVID-19 pandemic instigated on the family unit. Childcare is a distinct policy field, but one that also cuts across other significant areas of governmental responsibility: health, education, and social welfare. Federal systems of government, by virtue of the fact that approximately forty percent of the world’s population live in federations, play a significant role in the provision and efficacy of childcare globally. Both the development and implementation of childcare policy requires a successful collaborative effort between all levels of government. Often, multilevel governance can hinder the effective actualization of these policies, and this reality can be observed in global north countries such as Canada, Germany and Switzerland. Global south countries like Brazil, India, and South Africa also see similar issues between government systems and the realization of social policy. The trends observed amongst the aforementioned federations in the global north and global south highlight intersecting similarities and challenges which have implications for childcare policy development and service delivery. Exploring and understanding the relationship between governance and childcare policy in federations provides an opportunity to re-evaluate how child welfare and development is approached in federal and federal-type systems. In late 2021, the Forum conducted an international comparative research project on this very topic. Increased knowledge of policy and practice in federations can support identification of dynamics that impact childcare provision and quality, and thus pave the way for improvements in childcare delivery by federal and subnational governments in both the global north and global south.

Federalism and Climate Change: An Ever-Changing Approach to a Never-Changing Problem?

Author: Tamoghna Sengupta – Over the course of time, the issue of climate change has taken center stage as an alarming cause of earth’s deterioration. Climate change is a long-term shift or a global change in the earth’s climate pattern. Since the Industrial Revolution, anthropogenic activities have catalyzed the process of change within the climate. As a result of the increased impacts of climate change on ecosystems and extreme weather, governments have started taking initiatives in order to combat the growing challenges that humans consequently face for survival. The results of climate change are felt globally and require collective action by governments of all countries, irrespective of whether their governance structure is unitary or federal. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that some of the initiatives in federal countries have been ineffective, as the policies adopted have been insufficient in producing a solution that would tackle the issue at a larger scale. In order to understand some of the shortcomings, the article will delve into some of the challenges that federal governance systems face in combatting climate change and the actions that have been adapted as restorative measures.

Has Decentralizing Governance in the MENA Region Increased Women’s Empowerment?

Author: Simone Clarke – Ensuring adequate representation for women in governance realms remains a global challenge. This challenge is especially prevalent in the MENA region, which since the early 2010s has been faced with both the beginning and aftermath of the Arab Spring protests. These protests originated in Tunisia and soon spread to other countries in the region as calls for more equal governance grew in size and scale. The desire for increased opportunities for political participation resulted in some countries, including Tunisia and Morocco, moving toward decentralization. Despite their geographic proximity, these two countries took different approaches to decentralization. The outcomes of these two approaches provides for a compelling comparative analysis.

Unfulfilled Potential? Federalism, Conflict and Coup d’États in Africa

Author: Hayat Omar – Africa is a continent which has been plagued by internal conflict and violence. Violence has increasingly become the mechanism through which actors implement change, attempt to alter the harsh realities of their lives, and challenge and governments and power structures. Much of Africa continues to face income inequality, inadequate health resources, infrastructure, and employment opportunities. Moreover, these issues have persisted for decades, fomenting a context in which aggrieved peoples and communities conclude that violence (on a progressive spectrum from low-level crime, to violent protests, and eventually organized coup d’états) is the only means through which meaningful change can be achieved. Scholars and analysts define this as ‘revolutionary violence’. Many of the crimes and conflicts actioned by Africans are attributed to “…overlapping injustice that betrays the basic presuppositions of a democratic state” (Chandoke 2015). Violence in this case has been defined as; “…brutality of predators and of hapless victims, of savage violations of the body and damage to the mind…” (2015). In this context, the epitome of the expression of revolutionary violence against the state is the coup d’état.

Acting on Alienation? Federal Political Culture and the Case of Alberta

Author: Jamie M. Thomas – Concepts of regionalism, alienation, secession, and separation are not new in federal studies. These ideas have been discussed at length in the Canadian case, especially concerning Quebec, and highlight the tension between shared-rule and self-rule in federal countries. In an extremely decentralized and geographically dispersed federation like Canada, it is important to understand the dynamics behind these concepts and how they present differently across the country. Examining how these sentiments differ from each other and have developed within the same federal system can contribute to a greater understanding of the complexities of ‘togetherness and apartness’ in Canada – and by extension – in other federal countries too. Using political culture to explore the origins of and continued support for these concepts in provinces outside Quebec provides an opportunity to assess the current state of federalism in Canada, as well as what actions can be undertaken to improve relationships between the provinces and the federal government.

A Federalism Identity Crisis? Separatist Movements in Federations

Author: Emilie Patry – The province of Quebec is well known for political movements which have, at various points in Canada’s history, expressed a desire to separate from the federation. The government of Quebec has on two distinct occasions asked its citizens if they wished to become independent. Following the last referendum held in 1995, when 50.58% of the Quebec population answered “no”, separatist claims did not simply disappear (Bellerose, 2021, S.d). While it is true that over the years the ideal of an independent Quebec has lost some of its relevance among the population as a whole, it nevertheless is still an electoral promise of a number of political parties within the province. In this sense, it is certain that a Quebec nationalist sentiment remains present.

Les dilemmes du fédéralisme face à la pandémie de COVID-19

Auteure: Marie Bettega – Depuis Janvier 2020, la pandémie de COVID-19 marque une crise sanitaire internationale sans précédent. La propagation accélérée du virus dans un monde globalisé a nécessité des réponses inédites de la part des gouvernements. L’efficacité des actions engagées dépend du système politique des différents États. Cet article se concentre sur les États fédéraux, et plus particulièrement le Canada et l’Allemagne.  

Digitalization in Federal Governments: Impacts on Service Delivery

Author: Soumaya Marhnouj – In the age of digital technology, it has become the norm to rely more upon online applications for access to public services and programs as internet connectivity has proliferated. In Canada, 98% of households have access to fixed broadband internet access, and more than 87% have a home Internet subscription. Furthermore, over 88% of the population have a smartphone and 45% of them check their smartphone every 30 minutes. Not only are people more interconnected than ever, but technology is increasingly relied upon in a manner that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. We see this technological shift in almost every aspect of life; government actors, government services, and public information should be no exception. Federal and unitary governments worldwide are embracing – and being expected to embrace – technology in the exercise of their functions. Central and subnational governments can use these technologies to fulfill primary goals in service provision, including “improving efficiency and service quality by reducing service lead times, increasing transparency, and offering seamless service provision across organizations.” This practice is known as digital government.   

Federalism: a Viable Peacebuilding Tool?

Author: Victoria Rose King – Since the end of the Cold War, the frequency with which federalism has been adopted as a peacebuilding tool in deeply divided states has increased. This is due to its perceived “ability to satisfy the aspirations and demands of both minority and majority groups: giving minority groups (limited) control over their own economic, political and social affairs, while also sustaining the territorial integrity of the extant state” (Anderson & Keil, 2017).