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Chandler: Federalism and political parties. In Federalism and the Role of the State, Herman Bakvis and Willia

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Chandler. 1987. Federalism and political parties. In Federalism and the Role of the State, Herman Bakvis and Willia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

In Brief

Key question: How do "variations in regionalism or territorial politics impinge on the role of political parties within federal systems and how [do] political parties in turn shape the forces of regionalism"?

Key argument: Federalism based on a jurisdictional division of labor leads to party bifurcation between the federal and provincial level. A functional division of labor encourages party integration between levels.

Key conclusion: Parties can serve an integrating function only if the federal structure is functional. Jurisdictional federalism leads to bifurcation.

Jurisdictional vs Functional Divisions

A "jurisdictional" division of labor has two autonomous levels of government (the usual form of federalism):

  • incentives are greater for each level to go it alone
  • incentives are greater for regional elites to politicize federal-region relations
  • encourages party bifurcation between the federal and provincial level (e.g. Canada, US)
  • marginalizes regional parties from policy process

A "functional" division of labor (federal government sets policy; regional governments implement it) is a different form of federalism, mostly seen only in Germany, but also in Belgium:

  • creates a need for bargaining and cooperation between levels of government
  • encourages party integration between levels (e.g. Germany)
  • parties remain central to the policy process