THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION ON FEDERAL SYSTEMS: A Comparative Analysis

By Woolstencroft, Peter; Watts, Ronald L. et al. | International Journal, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION ON FEDERAL SYSTEMS: A Comparative Analysis


Woolstencroft, Peter, Watts, Ronald L., Lazar, Harvey, Telford, Hamish, International Journal


THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION ON FEDERAL SYSTEMS A Comparative Analysis Edited by Harvey Lazar, Hamish Telford, and Ronald L. Watts Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queeris University Press, 2003. viii, 378pp, $65.00 cloth (ISBN 1-55339-003-2), $29.95 paper (ISBN 1-55339-002-4)

Generally, until the last third of the 2oth century, analysts of federations predicted their inevitable unitary destinations, in function if not in form. The evolution of federations was driven by the requirements of mixedeconomies and welfare states for central governments to have primary, if not unchallenged, roles. Over time, function would structure form.

Since the 19705, the federal idea has enjoyed considerable revitalization. No longer do federalist arrangements seem to be half-way houses on the road to unitary governance. Contrary to functionalist models, wellestablished unitary systems have taken on federal forms and processes. However, two features of modern politics-globalization and regional integration (GARI)-make the future of federations uncertain. Will they be strengthened, weakened, or extinguished?

The future of federations is this volume's organizing framework. It consists of eight case-study essays (revised following a 2000 conference) on federal and federal-like entities (Australia, Canada, Germany, India, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, and the European Union) and an introductory interpretative chapter.

Three summary points are made. First, generally-with Europe the exception-system adaptation has occurred without institution transformation. Second-again generally but for Europe-new transnational identities are not being formed. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the causal impact of GARI is not unidirectional; rather, some systems are decentralizing, others are centralizing, and their "different trajectories" reflect established patterns. Overall, the editors conclude that the examined systems have adapted to GARI pressures without "undermining the federal bargains that are fundamental to their stability" (2). Inclusion of the United States-the hegemon of globalization and regional integration processeswithin the set of analyzed federations may skew their understanding of GARI effects.

The Canadian-American nexus is particularly problematic. Propinquity and trade (deepened by the FTA and NAFTA), coupled with recent pressures for shared defence and security arrangements, would seem to make Canada especially vulnerable to GARI effects. Does its decentralized federation have the "muscle memory" to allow Ottawa to resist on a sustained basis the heavy pressures from the United States? (At times I think that my Canadian politics class should be retitled "preAmerican politics.")

Richard Simeon's essay on Canada speaks cogently to the issue's uncertainty. …

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