A Theoretical Perspective on Multi-Level Systems in Europe: Constitutional Power and Partisan Conflict

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Abstract

This article distinguishes three constitutionally defined categories of multi-level systems–confederations, federal arrangements and regionalized arrangements,which differ in whether their lower-level governments enjoy constitutional protection and whether we find a constitutional hierarchy between central and lower levels of government. We argue that the constitutional category a multi-level system belongs to systematically shapes first, the dominant mode of day-to-day intergovernmental coordination,second, the mode of formal competence (re)allocation; and third, the relative impact of party (in)congruence across central and lower-level governments on these coordination processes, respectively. The article then specifies the indicators used to test the hypotheses across the range of case studies. It finally shows how the multi-level systems covered in this special issue span the confederal–federal–regionalized spectrum and thus allow for an encompassing comparative assessment of multi-level dynamics and their long-term evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-383
JournalComparative European Politics
Volume12
Issue number4-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2014

Keywords

  • multi-level systems
  • constitutionalism
  • comparative federalism
  • party-political conflict
  • comparative regionalism

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