Austria is a democratic republic wherein constitutionally, state power is federalized into nine provinces and 357 municipalities which are organized as self-governing bodies. However, in reality, major political parties and their predecessors have dominated Austrian politics. As a result, neither federalism nor local government have been fully developed. This article discusses the political structure of Austria. It focuses on the democracy of the nation which is marked by highly congruent structures and processes at all territorial levels. All the territorial levels are marked by parliamentary system dominated by the national state; consensus policy-making within the elite; elite-centred politics; and underdeveloped participatory democracy. All of this holds true despite changes in globalization and in national state requirements for a new differentiation. At the turn of the century, a new differentiation emerged wherein an agreement-based model of administration shifted towards a conflict- and competition-oriented based model. This shift caused municipalities to move away from the inherited and inflexible corporatism and towards a more open and flexible network structure. Although these new instruments have opened avenues for citizens, the Austrian people have used such instruments only reluctantly. At the same time political elites have also strived to maintain their grip on their dominating role in politics. Despite criticisms on the undemocratic nature and liability of internal blocking, the Proporz governments are still institutionalized in five provinces and the new regional development organizations which have been created to catalyze economic impulses have only coordinating and consultative functions. This suggests time will have to pass before changes will penetrate the deeply imbedded state traditions of Austria.
Krishnan Srinivasan and Sreeradha Datta
Bangladesh is the ultimate prize in the subcontinent for Indian foreign policy. To enjoy good relations with the world’s third largest Muslim population would immeasurably strengthen India’s hands in transactions with Pakistan and the Islamic world, undermine the Muslim League’s theory that Hindus and Muslims could never coexist, and stabilize India’s vulnerable north-east with the promise of transit facilities through Bangladesh raising expectations of a boost to the economy. Being embedded in the most sensitive area of India, Bangladesh’s cooperation will also boost India in regard to China and Myanmar. Achieving a state of consistently friendly relations with Bangladesh will, however, take time, given the prevailing vertical division in Bangladesh’s polity and society about the fundamentals of its nationhood.
Ellen Wayenberg, Filip De Rynck, Kristof Steyvers, and Jean‐Benoît Pilet
Under the surface of great unity, Belgium suffered from three cleavages that have divided the small nation. This article discusses the three cleavages that have influenced and affected the political make-up of Belgian. The first two have an indirect effect on subnational democracy as they are an expression of the structural relationship between the state, civil society, and the market. The third cleavage has a more direct bearing on democracy beyond the nation-state. The first cleavage is the rise of liberals opposing rural Catholic domination of society. A logic of subsidiarity was formed which developed a system of pillarization (verzuiling) which segmented society. The second cleavage is economic, as the mass labour force stood against a capitalist regime. With the development of the labour movement and the spread of voting rights, capitalism became more state-regulated. This led to corporatism where private organizations were given privileged status and often monopolized substantial aspects of public goods and service delivery. The last cleavage is the conflicts between two linguistic communities. This conflict affected the nature of the subnational democracy of Belgium. The combined effects of the three cleavages: pillarization, corporatism, and regionalization, made Belgium local governments and local leaders amongst the weakest in Europe. While tendencies of divergence are prevalent in the Belgian context, convergence is still a possibility: the regions integrated Belgian heritage into their political systems. The most crucial is the strong political localism which led to a complex intergovernmental and party-political lobbying and to blurred responsibilities which hollow out local democracy. In general, local democracy has been the victim of such systematic features.
Strom C. Thacker
This article addresses several questions on business-state relations in democratic Mexico. It addresses the contemporary nature of business-state relations in Mexico and appraises the participation of the private sector in democratic policies. It then studies the evolution of the structure and internal makeup of Mexico's business sector and the degree of competitive dynamism of the Mexican private sector and economy as a whole. Finally, the article takes a look at some of the implications of these dynamics for Mexico's democratic consolidation.
This article focuses on the state of Bulgaria. In a geographical area where continents, religions, and influences of power meet, Bulgaria has relied on the traditions of centralism and uniformity to reserve itself as a state. These traditions were first carved by the governing elite of the early Bulgarian state, and later reaffirmed by the nation when under territorial repartitions and foreign invasion. As a result, strong regional identities hardly ever existed in Bulgaria. Communism furthered centralized power and insisted that no minorities could be recognized. Even after communism was abolished, the traditions of constitutionalism and centralization continued. In 1991, a new constitution which conforms to the European standards was adopted. It borrowed democratic experiments elsewhere establishing Bulgaria as a parliamentary republic but with a directly elected president and vice-president. The new constitution was controversial because it was passed by a Great National Assembly dominated by former communists. In conformity to the requirements of EU accession, Bulgaria amended the constitution. This 2007 constitutional amendment led to some decentralization of Bulgaria. It allowed subnational governance, subnational finance, and fiscal decentralization.
David E. Smith
Canada is one of the earliest modern federations in the world. Created in 1867 by an Act of Parliament in Westminster, it was the first parliamentary federation in the world. This article focuses on Canadian federalism. It discusses parliamentary federalism, regionalism, and the provincial government structure of Canada.
James A. McCann
This article studies the changing dimensions of the national elections in Mexico. It starts with a section on the arrival of competitive multiparty elections, where it discusses the dynamics found in well-fought electoral campaigns. It then provides a survey on how Mexicans viewed elections, representation, and their role as political actors. It considers public involvement in nomination politics and the trends of voter participation in national elections, and introduces the concept of voto remoto. Finally, the article identifies changing elements of electoral choices.
With growing recognition of the ‘localized’ causes and consequences of climate change, cities and subnational governments have been key actors and arenas in the development of policy responses. This article examines the emergence of the phenomenon of newly evolved major role of cities and subnational governments in policy making, and the roles they have played in orchestrating the response to climate change over the past two decades. It considers how and why urban and regional governments came to be at the forefront of responses to climate change, and the political geographies of that movement. In addition, it examines the nature of urban and regional responses to climate change, and considers the tensions emerging between the rhetoric and reality of the possibilities of addressing climate change. This article concludes discussing the potential and implications for cities and subnational governments in responding to climate change.
G. Albert Ruesga
This article examines the role of grassroots philanthropy in civil society. It explains the concept of grassroots philanthropy and evaluates whether poor people can or should be the prime movers in shaping programs that aim to change their condition. It argues that philanthropy “with, by and from” the grassroots is likely to be an important element of efforts to build the capacities and connections that are required to address social problems successfully in the future.
This article examines the role the military has played in the modern political life of Mexico. This role is analyzed within the civic-military relations that were secured after the revolution, the national security crisis, and the peculiarities in Mexico's process of democratization. It shows that Mexico has gone through a relevant process of democratization for the past twenty years, which has changed civic-military relations but left the most basic characteristics intact.