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Sustainable Decentralization: Power, Extraconstitutional Influence and Subnational Symmetry in the United States and Spain


James A. Gardner


SUNY Buffalo Law School

Antoni Abad I. Ninet


State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo Law School

May 27, 2009

Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-12

Abstract:     
In the Madisonian tradition of constitutional design, the foundation of a sustainable federalism is thought to be a scientifically precise balancing of national and subnational power. Experience shows, however, that national and subnational actors in highly diverse systems are capable of developing a rich array of extraconstitutional methods of mutual influence, so that the formal, constitutionalized balance of power rarely settles the question of the actual balance of power between levels of government. A more important factor in ensuring the long-term sustainability of a meaningfully federal system is the degree of symmetry across subnational units in their relation to the central state. A comparison of the U.S. and Spain suggests that federalism is most directly threatened when subnational units compete not collectively with the central state, thereby checking its power, but with each other, a condition that furnishes the central state with opportunities to exploit subnational rivalries in ways that risk genuine, long-term destabilization.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: Decentralization, federalism, subnational units, madisonian, comparative constitutional law, Spain, extraconstitutional

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Date posted: May 28, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Gardner, James A. and Ninet, Antoni Abad I., Sustainable Decentralization: Power, Extraconstitutional Influence and Subnational Symmetry in the United States and Spain (May 27, 2009). Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-12. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1410743 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1410743

Contact Information

James A. Gardner (Contact Author)
SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )
Room 514, O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-3607 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.buffalo.edu

Antoni Abad I. Ninet
State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )
School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States

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