Federalism, regionalism, pandemic and power (im)balances
Panel formed with individual proposals.
While the impact of federalism on healthcare delivery and other important aspects of pandemic management has been the subject of some academic study, the ways in which public health emergencies have shaped constitutional traditions and practices relating to federalism have been less explored. Given the similarities between Indian and Canadian law and practice on federalism, this paper will conduct a comparative study of their responses to COVID-19 to answer the following questions: (1) How have public health emergencies historically impacted (and been impacted by) federalism? (2) Based on lessons learnt from the pandemic, can we develop a “best practices“ model for federalism during public health emergencies? The paper will also make a case for increased emphasis on India and Canada as the 'most similar cases‘ for comparative constitutional studies.
The Covid-19 pandemic was the first test of Italian regionalism in the face of an emergency of this magnitude. The institutional relations between the two levels of government have sometimes turned out to be problematic and sometimes even conflicting. From this point of view, it is first of all necessary to ask whether the management of such particular emergencies follows the division of powers by subjects provided for by the Italian Constitution or whether it should make use of other tools for centralizing competences. In any case, the validity and effectiveness of the principle of loyal collaboration between the State and the Regions, immanent in Italian system, cannot be underestimated and therefore must still be carried out even in the case of emergency situations.
In the summer of 2019-2020, Australia was confronted with an unprecedented bushfire season that was followed, almost immediately, by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Constitution does not confer an express power on the Federal Government to deal with emergencies. In Australia, the management of emergencies is primarily the responsibility of the state and territory governments. The Federal Government has, however, utilised the Australian Defence Force (‘ADF‘) to provide assistance to state and territory governments in responding to, and recovering from, the recent bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic. This paper examines the constitutional basis for the use of the ADF by the Federal Government in responding to emergencies. In particular, it considers the executive powers available to the Federal Government, in the absence of statutory authorisation, to deploy the ADF internally and explores how federalism operates to condition and limit these powers.
Despite being identified by The Forum of Federations as one of the key trends in contemporary federations, the concept of ‘hourglass‘ federalism remains somewhat nebulous. By analysing examples where the label has been applied, this paper begins to fill this conceptual lacuna. As a strategy, we argue that hourglass federalism is pursued for two primary purposes: improving local services and autonomy, while also consolidating national unity and political stability. As an institutional manifestation, we identify five features that define hourglass federal systems: 1) the constitutional allocation of powers to local government - 2) a direct financial relationship between local government and the centre - 3) local government accountability to its constituents - 4) local government representation in intergovernmental institutions - 5) dedicated local government bureaucracies. In concluding, we highlight future research directions to guide further analysis and evaluation of hourglass federalism.