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Abstract

This special issue publishes a number of conference papers presented at the conference ‘Representing Regions, Challenging Bicameralism’ that took place on 22 and 23 March 2018 at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. In this issue, the developments of European bicameral parliaments in (quasi-)federal states are dealt with as well as the political impact of shared rule and alternative models to second chambers. Several papers compare the organizational and functional design of territorial second chambers. Finally, closer examination is given to the EU’s Committee of Regions and the second chambers in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Abstract

The Spanish Constitution defines the Senate as 'Chamber of territorial representation'. But in the Senate the provinces are represented, not the Autonomous Communities. The Senate is a Chamber of ‘sober second thought’, subordinated to the lower House, whose will prevails in the event of discrepancy. It lacks specific powers with regard to territorial autonomy; in spite of this, there has been an attempt to assign it relevance in this sphere by creating a General Committee on Autonomous Communities. By way of exception the Senate is exclusively responsible for the decision to authorize the Government to apply measures of ’federal coercion'. This constitutional provision was first activated in October 2017, in the context of the secessionist process in Catalonia, as a result of the repeated noncompliance by the authorities of the resolutions of the Constitutional Court (CC), which concluded with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by Parliament at the same time as the adoption of the measures of federal coercion. The Senate demonstrated that even in a case in which it has the reserved competence, as in the authorization of the adoption of measures of federal coercion, it lacks the capacity to be a federal Chamber.

Abstract

In federal and regionalised states, bicameralism constitutes shared rule between levels of governments. At the same time, second chambers serve as a safeguard protecting selfrule of decentralised governments against the encroachments of central legislation into their areas of responsibility. Both functions seem to be best fulfilled in legislative systems requiring joint decisions of legislative chambers. Depending on particular conditions, joint decision-making involves the risk that legislation ends with ineffective compromises or even fails. Under favourable conditions, it provides a productive structure to apply shared rule and protect self-rule. Comparative studies can identify these conditions, and appropriate ways to adjust institutional designs of bicameralism accordingly, bearing in mind that significant institutional reforms of bicameral systems are difficult to achieve.

Abstract

This paper presents the Swiss Ständerat as a model of perfect bicameralism. It looks at the constitutional design of the second Chamber, examines the evolution of the Ständerat and critically assesses its current functioning. The author claims that the Swiss Federal Assembly is still based on almost perfect bicameralism but that the second Chamber only very imperfectly represents the regions. Having highlighted the current role and justification of the second Chamber, the paper will raise the question whether the Ständerat fulfils other useful functions justifying its existence. Does the sheer fact of having two differently composed Chambers prevent capricious and precipitous decision-making? The paper then turns to alternative mechanisms of representing regions at the federal level, briefly looks at other mechanisms available to Cantons to make their voices heard in the capital and presents the House of the Cantons as an evolving third Chamber complementing the Ständerat.

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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.

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.