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Authority Migration in Federations: A Framework for Analysis

  • Jenna Bednar (a1)

Why does one federation succeed while another fails? Federations may fail for exogenous reasons: foreign invasion, collapse of its currency, or global market forces. If we focus on endogenous factors, the possible reasons for failure include diversity, where populations drift apart or clash too often, or jealousy from redistributive asymmetry, with unequal shouldering of costs or dispersion of benefits, and, of course, corruption and insurrection. While potentially significant, these problems are not particular to federalism; they threaten all democracies. There is, however, one threat that afflicts federations in particular. It is the one that perplexed and animated James Madison in the American context: opportunistic authority migration between levels of government.

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FilippovMikhail, Peter C.Ordeshook, and OlgaShvetsova. 2004. Designing Federalism: A Theory of Self-Sustainable Federal Institutions. New York: Cambridge University Press.

KramerLarry D. 2000. “Putting the Politics Back into the Political Safeguards of Federalism.” Columbia Law Review100: 215293.

OstromElinor. 1998. “A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action.” American Political Science Review92(1): 122.

WechslerHerbert. 1954. “The Political Safeguards of Federalism: The Role of the States in the Composition and Selection of the National Government.” Columbia Law Review54: 543560.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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