A Comparative study of dynamics in federal political systems in times of crisis

PhD Thesis

Bransden, S. 2017. A Comparative study of dynamics in federal political systems in times of crisis. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences
AuthorsBransden, S.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

The thesis seeks to develop understandings of dynamics in federal political systems in crisis, the nature of the relationship between crisis and process, and the range of tools available for conflict reduction that extend beyond those available in the constitutional frameworks of each system.

The dissertation explores these through a comparative study of a small n of cases that meet the criterion of a period of crisis as the independent variable: the Staten Island secession crisis in New York City, the existential crisis of Quebec’s relationship with the rest of Canada, and the crisis of the UK and European integration at the time of Maastricht. The data collection process for each is framed on a temporal basis, within the duration of crisis as defined, and spatially, within the territorial extent of the system. The thesis uses data gathered from primary and secondary written sources based on the relevance to the research questions and conceptual framework. The analysis, located in the comparative section, identifies a number of important findings that contribute to theoretical understandings of federalism. The evidence gives support to, and extends the understanding of, federalism by demonstrating that the crisis potential in each case becomes evident because of challenges to some communities’ values that arise from the process-based nature of federalism, through identifiable demands and counter-demands made by actors. Moreover, it highlights how the constraining nature of constitutional frameworks makes the use of extra-constitutional arrangements essential, in particular with the use of instrumentalities. The thesis also develops an understanding of how federal power sharing evolves post-crisis with flexible understandings of the division of competences, and the potential for a return to crisis in systems in the absence of a deeper understanding and application of federal principles by political elites.

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Publication process dates
Deposited06 Sep 2017
Output statusUnpublished
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The European Union as a federal project
Keil, S. and Bransden, S. 2015. The European Union as a federal project. in: Gagnon, A., Keil, S. and Mueller, S. (ed.) Understanding Federalism and Federation Farnham Ashgate. pp. 215-232