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Federations Magazine Article
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Editor’s Column / In the News
JUNE | JULY 2008 Federations
By ROD MAcDone Ll
his is the first anni versar y issue of Federations since
the magazine was reshaped, redesigned and
relaunched last June. In that year our cover stories
• chronicled how Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has
taken on major federal responsibilities in California,
• celebrated India’s resurgence and its diversity, and
• analyzed the many facets and factors that enabled
Cristina Fernandez Kirchner to succeed her husband as
president of Argentina.
This edition’s cover story is about the erosion of powers of
Australia’s six states brought about mainly by High Court rulings,
and how Australia’s constituent units have strategically
united to prevent the further decaying of their jurisdictions.
Prof. Anne Twomey explains that the election of Kevin
Rudd’s Labor Party in November 2007 brought the promise
from Rudd that he will work with the six states, all also represented
by Labor governments, to restore co-operative
federalism to the land and end the so-called “blame game” with
Canberra, the capital and seat of power of the Commonwealth
The Rudd government, which came to power after 11 years of
rule by John Howard’s Liberal Party, moved rapidly and decisively,
holding a vast brainstorming summit in April 2008 which
has opened the door to the possible reallocation of powers in
the prosperous nation and world’s smallest continent.
The format of the magazine is that each issue contains two
key elements, the news section with five or six articles, and the
feature section which typically looks at a cross-cutting theme of
relevance to as many as half a dozen federations, themes such
as diversity, fiscal issues, post-secondary education and cities
and metropolitan regions in federal systems.
This issue explores two closely-related themes, decentralization
and devolution, in five non-federal countries – three in
South America, one in Asia and one in North Africa. The publication
of this section marks a departure from our focus on
federations. (More about the thematic section in the introduction
on Page 10.)
In federal countries, in order for government to function
smoothly, the gears of intergovernmental relations need coordination
and frequent attention.
In Nigeria, co-ordination between Cross River state and the
Federal government went awry when Cross River proceeded
with a US $400 million business-hotel-resort-shopping complex
meant to operate as a customs free zone, encouraging
wealthy Nigerians to spend their disposable income at home.
The veteran Nigerian political reporter, Dejo Olatoye,
recounts how the recently completed megaproject has become
a languishing ghost town as Cross River presses the federal government
to grant it the duty-free status it needs to operate.
Please explore our thematic section and our other substantive
news offerings. They deal with the next phase of Iraq’s
tentative federalization, with further decentralization coming
in Spain, Canada’s ever-improving internal trade measures and
an insightful inside look at Mexico’s municipal challenges, as
seen through the eyes of Senator (and former mayor) Ramon
Galindo Noriega.
Swiss nix citizenship rule
By a vote of 64 per cent, Swiss voters
rejected an initiative that would have
made it more difficult for foreigners to
obtain Swiss citizenship.
The vote, held on June 1, turned down
a proposal from the nationalist Swiss
Peoples’ Party that would have restored
the right for voters in a local community
to be the final arbiters on who gets Swiss
citizenship. Every canton except Schwyz,
in the heartland of Swiss conservatism,
turned down the initiative.
Under Swiss law, local communities
have held referenda to decide who
should be allowed to become a Swiss citizen.
The Swi s s Supreme Cour t
overturned the practice because there
was no right of appeal against the vote
and no reason given for rejection. The
ruling sparked the referendum.
To apply for Swiss citizenship, an
immigrant must live in Switzerland for 12
years and speak one of the country’s
official languages.
Seven Nigerian states sue federal
government for oil revenues
Seven of Nigeria’s 36 states are
demanding a refund from the federal
government of some 546 billion naira –
about US $4.7 billion. In May, the states
filed their lawsuit in Nigeria’s Supreme
Court, claiming this amount as their
rightful share of unremitted revenue
from 2004 to 2007.
The revenue in dispute includes
money the states allege the federal government
wrongfully deducted from the
common pool known as the Federation
Account, which is largely funded by oil
The Attorney General and Minister of
Justice were reportedly told by President
Umaru Yar’Adua to explore a possible
out-of-cour t settlement with the
The states that filed the lawsuit are
Abia, Bauchi, Benue, Niger, Ogun, Oyo
and Osun.
Nepal to decide on powers of its
Abolishing the monarchy, which
Nepal did on May 28, was the easy step.
Deciding on the powers of a new post of
president is the more difficult one.
The newly-elected Constituent
Assembly is in the process of writing a
federal constitution for the new republic,
but drafters have not yet completed the
passages of the constitution that describe
the powers of the president. The Maoist
party, which won the largest number of
seats in the 601-member assembly, wants
the office of president to include strong
political powers, similar to the U.S. Other
parties want a more ceremonial president
, wi th onl y the powe r t o
dissolve the parliament after a vote of
E D I T O R ’ s C O L U M N