POSC 1000
Introduction to Politics
Unit Six: Political Systems
Russell Alan Williams
Unit Six: Political Systems
Required Reading: MacLean & Wood, Chapter 6.
Outline:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Introduction
Unitary Systems
Confederal Systems
Federal Systems
Canadian Federalism
1) Introduction:
While states can be dived along
presidential/parliamentary/hybrid systems,
there is also a wide range of practices relating to
the “power” of central governments
Experience has suggested problems with “centralization”
in some settings . . . .
“Centralization”: Concentration of power in a single
body of government.
In practice there are three systems of government
relating to centralization:
Unitary, Federal and Confederal
All states have central and local/regional
governments
But . . . powers of local/regional governments vary
Determined by constitutions
Question: How do different governments relate
with one another?
Is the central government “supreme”
Are there power struggles?
2) Unitary Systems:
“Unitary Systems”: Political system that concentrates power
within the central government
Local/regional governments very weak
Examples?
Iceland, New Zealand, Netherlands, Japan
Britain?
Benefits?
Uniform national policies
• Local authorities do what they are told
Efficiency
Mobility
Drawbacks:
Poor at responding to needs of citizens at
local level
=“Delegated Authority”: Some powers
may be formally delegated in a unitary
system to local governments, based on
functions being better provided at that
level.
• E.g. Central governments usually
“charter” towns or cities to take
responsibilities for certain issues
– Powers of those jurisdictions are
outlined in central government
legislation
Drawbacks:
Poor at dealing with “political economy”
of different regions – geography often
creates different interests
=“Decentralization”: Some powers may
be formally transferred to a lower level of
government – with more independence
and control over policy
• E.g. Paraguay – New constitution in
1992 – A “decentralized” unitary state
– Created elected governors and councils to
replaces ones appointed by central gov.
• Central government still controls most
issues, but local governments more
responsive
Drawbacks:
Poor at dealing with regionally concentrated
ethnic/linguistic/national differences
=“Devolution”: A wide range of powers may
are transferred to a regional government –
representing a different nation
E.g. Scotland and Wales have new
“national assemblies” within the
United Kingdom
• Both also send MP’s to Westminster
• In Unitary states, powers granted by
Devolution are still subject to central
authority – they can be taken away . . . .
3) Confederal Systems:
“Confederalism”: Political system in
which power is divided between central
and regional governments.
In confederal states, real power rests at the
regional level – central governments have
“pooled” powers granted to them under
limited circumstances
• E.g. look after issues on behalf of regional
governments – National defence, foreign relations
etc.
“Real World” examples????
United States (18th century)
The “European Union”: Union of 27 states.
Has parliament, and has control over foreign
policy, economic affairs and more . . . .
4) Federal Systems:
“Federalism”: System of governance in which power and
responsibilities are formally divided between central and
regional governments.
Local/regional governments = “States”, “Provinces”, “Lander”
Regional governments’ powers are “constitutional” – they cannot
be changed without their consent = divided sovereignty
• Separate “jurisdictions”
Regional governments have important independent sources of
revenue
Examples: U.S., Canada, Australia and Germany
Most “federations” are products of “political expediency”.
Federalism was necessary to state formation . . . .
Example: United States
Example: Canada
Results in different dynamics from unitary states – regional governments (states
and provinces) are indivisible, but the same may not be true of the central
government . . . .
Like Unitary States, “Federations” can be more or
less centralized . . . depends on political factors:
“Centralized Federalism”: Central Government retains
most real power
Can be constitutionally driven . . . . But also maybe a pattern that
emerges due to financial strength of central governments
Like Unitary States, “Federations” can be more or
less centralized . . . depends on political factors:
More decentralized federations?
Switzerland? Canada???
Benefits?
Regional accommodation!
Problems?
Inefficiency – duplication of services
Mobility problems
Uneven policies . . . Some provinces have more
$$$$$$$ than others . . . .
Duplication of authority and
services
E.g. North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
• Canada, US, Mexico are all
federations – some areas of trade
and economic policy involve four
levels of “government”
“Multilevel governance” is much
more complex, time consuming
and can be inefficient . . . .
Benefits?
Regional accommodation!
Problems?
Inefficiency – duplication of services
Mobility problems
Uneven policies . . . Some provinces have more
$$$$$$$ than others . . . .
5) Canadian Federalism:
Canadian federalism is constitutionally-entrenched.
Provinces have powers the federal government cannot
change
Constitution Act (1867) assigned specific jurisdictions
to federal and provincial governments and some
jurisdictions to both . . . .
E.g. “Concurrent Powers”: Shared jurisdictions where both
governments have significant authority
•
Direct Taxation, Immigration, Agriculture etc.
Division of Powers: The constitutional division of
responsibilities between provinces and the federal
government in Canadian Federalism
VERY POLITICAL – Federalism, and struggle over provincial and
federal “rights” dominates politics and public policy in Canada
Federal government also has powers of:
“Reservation”: Lieutenant Governor can send
provincial legislation to federal cabinet for
approval
“Disallowance”: Federal cabinet can (in theory)
veto provincial legislation
In theory, Federal government should have had
most power, but things have not really worked
out that way . . . . Canadian federalism has
gone through periods of centralization and
decentralization
Canadian federalism has a problem:
Federal government was assigned most of the
“important” responsibilities (in the 19th century)
Federal Gov’t has most of the money – power to tax
and raise revenues is clearer
In the “real world” provinces have most of the
spending responsibilities (health, education and social
services) but limited money
= When combined with high levels of regionalism, ethnic
nationalist tensions, etc. Canadian federalism has had
to evolve
Canadian Federalism – Phases:
Early years: British JCPC (Canada’s Supreme
Court until 1949) interprets the Canadian
constitution “weirdly” – supports provincial rights
Transfers new powers to provinces at expense of
federal government – provincial jurisdiction grows
Canadian Federalism – Phases:
“Cooperative Federalism”: Governments
cooperate and coordinate policies regardless of
jurisdictions – effective centralization
After World War II, public wants bigger social
programs – provincial jurisdictions, but provinces have
no money – solution: the “power of the purse”
Federal government intrudes in provincial jurisdiction,
creating national programs (E.g. Medicare)
•
Provinces get “Conditional Grants” to deliver the programs
“Unconditional Grants”: Federal “transfers” to provinces to
support their activities
•
E.g. transfer payments, equalization etc.
Canadian Federalism – Phases:
“Executive Federalism”: A more conflictual
style of federalism where provinces have tried to
achieve greater autonomy from federal control
Political executives of provinces and federal
governments meet to negotiate national policy goals
Federal financial problems have weakened ability to
influence provinces since 1980s
Provincial governments’ jurisdictions seem to
have grown
E.g. Trade, finance, climate change . . . .
Problems with Canadian
federalism:
Duplication . . . .
Provincial variation in programs and
mobility . . . .
Ambiguity about jurisdiction creates
constant bickering over programs
Provinces are not all equal . . . Some
provinces have valuable natural
resources and some do not . . . Many
of them are going “broke” in the era
of “Executive Federalism”
Demands for “Equalization”!
Federal Government “transfer payments” to
provinces
1.
2.
General CHST transfers to support programs
“Equalization”: A system of additional transfers to
provinces that lack tax base to afford equivalent
programs to “better off” provinces
• Principle of Constitution Act (1982)
• Transfers to “have not” provinces
Finacial challenges of Canadian federalism:
Example – Newfoundland
NL Gov’t Revenue comes from:
•
Provincial taxes
+CHST
+Equalization
+Oil Revenue (Atlantic Accord)
=$$$$$$$
NL briefly had more revenue per person than any
province in Canada
•
However . . . New program 2007(!)
NL
PE
NS
NB
QC
MB
SK
BC
TOTAL
2006-07
632
291
1,386
1,451
5,539
1,709
13
260
11,281
2007-08
477
294
1,308
1,477
7,160
1,826
226
0
12,768
2008-09
197
310
1,294
1,492
7,622
2,003
0
0
12,918
Financial challenges of Canadian federalism:
Like the other attempts to manage Canadian
federalism, equalization has generated political
controversy and tension – illustrates drawbacks
of federalism????
For next time:
Unit Seven: Elections and Political Parties
(March 4, 6, 11 and 13)
Required Reading:
MacLean and Wood, Chapter 7.
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POSC 1000 Political Systems