Project (3) “The Patterns and Causes of Federalization and De-federalization in North America and Europe: Past and Present”

This emerging project examines the factors that lead to the adoption of a federal system, and how subsequent steps shape its evolving institutional architecture. Exploring the origins of federal systems is a very timely topic: While federalism plays a prominent role in many contemporary debates on state reform across the globe, a “federal revolution” has never occurred. In fact, many federalization processes, e.g. Italy, the Philippines or the European Union, have stalled. At the same time, federal systems can fall apart. Sometimes it is only one constituent unit that seeks to “exit” a federation, like in case of Brexit or Quebec in 1980 and 1995. But a federation may also de-federalize in its entirety, like in case of Czechoslovakia or Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Through comparative analysis of historical and contemporary (de-)federalization processes in North America and Western Europe, this research seeks to better understand how different factors, most notably ideas and institutions, systematically interact in this process of institutional transformation.