This special issue of Perspectives on Federalism collects papers mostly presented at the General Conference of the European Consortium of Political Research in September 2014. The issue contains five papers dealing with the role, the status, the dynamics, and the functions of sub-national constitutional politics and sub-national constitutionalism in a number of member states of the EU as well as in a comparative, non-EU perspective. Even though the papers take different perspectives on the topic at hand, they all engage with the contribution sub-national constitutions can make to democracy and the nationstate within as well as outside of Europe.
Constitutional politics seemingly corroborate the assumption that Germany is a Grand Coalition state. In this perspective German cooperative federalism and the supermajority required for any amendment to the constitution privilege bargaining and intertwined policy-making as modes of conflict resolution and thus support grand coalitions. In this paper I will explore whether this theory can explain constitutional politics in the German Länder. Firstly, I examine how far sub-national constitutional politics match the functioning of cooperative federalism that is a defining feature of the Grand Coalition state. Secondly, I examine sub-national constitutional politics in the five new Länder and bring the role parties played in this policy field to the fore. Overall, I conclude that cooperative federalism did not impact on constitutional politics in East Germany and that the features of consensus democracy are only partly able to explain law-making in this sector.