"Federalism Under Conditions of Asymmetrical Subnational Claims for Autonomy: the Case of Spain"
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.
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