Towards a new organization of federal States? : Lessons from the processes of constitutional reform in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Behnke, Nathalie GND

The recent processes of constitutional reform in Switzerland, Germany and Austria all had the aim (among others) to re-organize the federal distribution of resources and competencies. While the Swiss process is generally regarded as very successful, the German reform failed in a first attempt and the reform results of the second attempt are evaluated by most observers as quite unsatisfactory. In Austria, the constitutional convention failed as well, and informal reform processes with an uncertain outcome are still under way. In this paper the three processes are compared according to those variables which are said to be decisive for the success of the Swiss reform. Furthermore, the analysis of the elements of failure and success of the three reform processes suggests that the federal structure is changing in all three countries in a similar direction: in order to accommodate current pressures for reform, structural innovations are being made providing more flexibility of decisions and policies; and the importance of horizontal institutions of executive co-ordination is increasing.

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Behnke, Nathalie: Towards a new organization of federal States?. Lessons from the processes of constitutional reform in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Hagen 2009. FernUniversität in Hagen.

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