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Federalism and Its Discontents: The limits of New Institutionalism

Jan Erk
Publication date: 
Fri, 3 Aug 2012

From post-conflict Iraqi federalism to the decentralist teachings of the World Bank in the developing world, comparative federalism has found increasingly vibrant applications in practice, particularly in the writing of federal constitutions for post-conflict societies. In its applied form, New Institutionalism prescribes instant constitutional solutions which fail to account for the more problematic uncodified factors.
What is needed is a holistic view which places federal institutions/ constitutions among a number of structural long-term factors. An even-handed evaluation of the promises and pitfalls of federalism is likely to temper the zeal for instant institutional/constitutional engineering.