Conceptualizing Federalization and De-Federalization in Democratic Settings

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Anatomy - Large LT (University of Glasgow)
John Erik Fossum , ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo
In today’s world where states and societies experience heightened interdependence and interconnectedness coupled with rising ethnic and religious tensions, the need for federalism appears greater than ever. At the same time, there is a curious interconnectedness – consent gap not the least associated with the rise of right-wing and left-wing populism that may render it difficult to install federal-democratic solutions. If this is a general tendency, then the support for democratic federalism in established federations should also be expected to be on the decline.

Is this diagnosis correct: a gap between on the one hand a greater need for federalism and on the other declining democratic support? If so, how to account for that?

In order to address these issues we first need to establish what is meant by democratic federalism. Based on that it is necessary to spell out the conditions under which a process of coming together will support democratic federalization and when it will not, as well as the conditions under which federal democracy in established federal democracies will variously be sustained or undermined.