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Unicameralism, Bicameralism, Multicameralism: Evolution and Trends in Europe

Abstract

An analysis of the structure of parliaments in European countries shows that a wide range of options developed across the centuries. However, many of these patterns (among which tetracameralism, tricameralism, and qualified unicameralism) did not survive, despite their sometimes-remarkable historical interest. Currently, parliaments in Europe are either unicameral or bicameral: while unicameralism is the most common option, bicameralism is generally adopted in more populous countries and/or States with strong territorial autonomies. As a matter of fact, among varieties of bicameralism, the most common is characterized by a ‘territorial’ second chamber. Nevertheless, other types of bicameralism deserve attention too, not only to provide a comprehensive outline of the comparative scene, but also to find features that can define emerging trends. For this purpose, a classification of bicameralism will be outlined, mainly examining the patterns displayed by second chambers and the relationships between the two chambers. Combining this classification with the outcomes of the choice between unicameralism and bicameralism, some trends can be detected, although national experiences are so diverse that reliable norms are difficult to identify.

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An Analysis of Public Debt Servicing in Zambia: Trends, Reforms and Challenges

Abstract

The main goal of this paper is to discuss the dynamics of public debt servicing – both domestic and foreign – in Zambia, tracing the trends, reforms and challenges over the period from 1964 to 2015. The paper shows that the exceptional rise in public debt servicing obligations in Zambia over the period under review has been principally due to high domestic and foreign interest rates, frequent debt rescheduling at commercial rates, and capitalisation of non-liquidated service obligations at commercial rates. Also revealed in the paper is the fact that prior to 2005, Zambia experienced severe public debt servicing problems which eased after 2006 owing to debt relief initiatives and an economic rebound. Among the government debt service reforms discussed in the paper are structural adjustments in foreign exchange management, fiscal and monetary reforms, and aggressive engagement of traditional creditors. Primary among the identified challenges of public debt servicing in Zambia was the insistent economic crises that dogged the country during the study period. Notwithstanding the current public debt service sustainability and remarkable economic performance that characterise the country today, the paper found that the recent contraction of nonconcessional loans by the state poses a threat to debt service sustainability in future. Hence, the paper recommends, among other things, for aligning of public sector infrastructure spending with revenues to ensure budget sustainability, and to continue diversifying the economy to minimise the impact of external commodity price shocks on the economy.

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Contemporary Geopolitics and Digital Representations of Space

Abstract

This research is premised on two theoretical constructs: that maps do not objectively depict space and that traditional cartography produces a geopolitical narrative. The research aim is to investigate geopolitical influence in modern, digital representations of space, and vice versa. This paper is divided into three parts: In the first, the digital representation of space is introduced and explained, and two widely acknowledged digital cartographic services are established as the empirical foundation of the research – Google (Google Maps and Google Earth), designed by cartographic and geo-data professionals, and OpenStreetMap, built through crowdsourcing. In the second part, the geopolitical features of traditional cartography are discussed in the context of digital mapping, including ethnocentricity and hierarchical representations of space, similarities to geopolitische karte, and “minor geopolitics.” The final part asks and answers a key question about geopolitical subjectivity: “Who benefits from the geopolitical narratives in digital representations of space?”

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Differentiated integration contingent on objective ability: a federalist critique

Abstract

This article is inspired by the 2017 discussions on the future of Europe (in particular some of the ideas debated in the White Paper on the Future of Europe, published by the European Commission) and the events that took place in the crises and post-crises period (aftermath of the financial crisis, ongoing refugee crisis and the Brexit shock). It is particularly interested in the scenario of differentiated integration. In this regard, it observes how in the aftermath of the crises, there was a shift in the rationale of differentiated integration with objective (in)ability of the states taking a prominent role. It presents a federalist critique of this development, drawing on the work of Daniel Elazar, discussing the concepts of non-centralization, federal process and federal covenant in the context of the 2017 discussions in the EU.

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The Effects of Post-conflict Constitutional Designs: the “Ohrid Framework Agreement” and the Macedonian Constitution

Abstract

In regions troubled by ethnic based conflict violence often erupts abruptly and severely. Peacemakers, then, follow unconditional paths to prevent conflict escalation. The article analyzes the ways in which post-conflict constitutional designs shape the state structure through constitutional amendments. Peace agreements as bases for constitutional reform, the article claims, have reformatory but also obstructive implications. Seeing the Ohrid Framework Agreement as a case study, the paper analyzes its implications on the development of the political system in Macedonia. On one side OFA serves as a criterion for the Macedonian Euro-Atlantic integration and a driving force for the creation of a functioning multicultural society. On the other side, the procedural and substantive flaws of the agreement undermine its absorbability in the society. In procedural sense, OFA hindered its own implementation through the used terminology and the drafting process. In substantial sense, agreement’s goals and provisions reached beyond the purpose of peace agreements and underestimated the complexity of the conflicting issues at stake.

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The EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement for the Western Balkans: Between Challenges and Opportunities

Abstract

The role of the European Union (EU) trade liberalisation with the four Western Balkan countres — namely Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia — is overestimated, as major benefits could be expected mainly from institutional reforms rather than trade creation and economic perspective due to low economic development and a lack of comparative advantages in these countries1. The core issue to be addressed in this article is whether these firms can exploit the opportunities arising from the EU integration process. The aim of this article is to confirm the hypothesis that the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) and trade agreements in the Western Balkans are not sufficient pre-conditions for successful performance and increase of exports by local firms; the main focus should be on the internal performance of firms. The paper analyses and compares the data collected by surveys conducted with local firms in Kosovo in order to measure the impact of the SAA. Finally, the article suggests that in the short and medium run the SAA could support and improve the quality of products, technical standards, and firm competitiveness as a pre-condition for better access to the EU market in the long run.

Open access
Eurosceptic Federalism: Paradoxes and Relevance of a long-running Critique of European Integration

Abstract

In recent political debate, the association between national souverainisme and Euroscepticism is considered a natural one. From Marine Le Pen to Matteo Salvini, there is a unanimous affirmation of the necessity to defend national sovereignty against the threat of Brussels. But if we take a more in-depth look, we can see how European Integration has fed two different approaches to European federalism: the first began in 1951, a concrete path on which a kind of European federation was progressively built, while the second has considered the same path to be an obstacle in the attempt to move towards a possible European federation. According to the first group the process of integration has been better than nothing while, the opinion of the second is that the same process has been worse than nothing. Such Eurosceptic Federalism finds its roots in the anti-cosmopolitan federalism of the interwar debate and unifies, paradoxically, radical libertarians and convinced communitarians.

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A Federal Turn? The European Union’s Response to Constitutional Crises in the Member States

Abstract

The EU has not yet found effective answers to constitutional crises in its Member States, in particular Hungary and Poland. Due to systemic problems of compliance with the common values of Art. 2, the legitimacy of the EU constitutional order and its smooth functioning are under threat, but the EU lacks instruments of direct enforcement and coercion. Several authors have therefore proposed to ‘federalize’ EU mechanisms and to guarantee to EU institutions, in particular the Court of Justice, more powers to intervene vis-à-vis Member States. However, the current Treaty framework presents a series of obstacles to federal-like enforcement. Solutions to national crises must ultimately respect the constitutional balance between the Union and the Member States.

Open access
From the Unitary Patent Package to a Federal EU Patent Law

Abstract

For the last forty years, the European Union has been pursuing the goal of a unified system of patent law, which would make it possible for an invention to be protected, by EU law, throughout the territory of the Member-States, with a single application. This would simplify the patent protection system, making it easier, less costly and more secure, and would facilitate access to the internal market and promote scientific and technological development. However, problems might arise because of the plurality of legal sources that could be involved and due to the fact that not all countries want to be part of this new system. Nevertheless, the involvement of the majority of the Member-States in the Unitary Patent Package, through participating in an international agreement and in using the EU’s enhanced cooperation mechanism, is evidence of federalist manifestations of the EU as a sui generis organisation.

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The implementation of EU law by national administrations: Executive federalism and the principle of sincere cooperation

Abstract

This paper explores the similarities between the EU’s system of administrative implementation of its legislative acts, and the German and American systems of administrative implementation of their respective federal laws. The article will also study the connection between the principle of sincere cooperation, established in the EU Treaties, and equivalent principles which exist in federal legal orders, namely the “Bundestreue” principle. The EU system appears to be closer to the German model of federalism than the US. Despite the federal inspiration, one cannot say that the principle of sincere cooperation is a federalising influence on the EU.

Open access