Comparing Patterns of Territorial Division of Governmental Power: Questioning the Scientific Foundations of the «Regional State»

A Call for Papers to Post-Doc Researchers in Comparative Constitutional Law.

The territory has been a relevant factor for defining the boundaries of unitary public power for time immemorial. Federalism – in particular due to two historical models such as Switzerland in Europe and the United States of America – has provided the pattern of division of powers within a unitary sovereignty that is regarded as the alternative to the centralised state. The identity of federalism as a general scientific category in public law resulting from a comparative research of all constitutional systems adopting the self-definition of “federal” – although questionable because of several relevant diversities – is well established.

During the 20th century some centralised states have started a dynamics of reform introducing various degrees of de-centralisation and devolution of public powers that has been regarded by legal scholarship as establishing a scientific category by itself – the regional state – distinct from the federal state as well as from the centralised state. Spain (1931, 1978), Italy (1948), France (1982) and the United Kingdom (1998) are regarded as relevant historical examples, while other European countries (Austria, 1920 and Germany, 1949 in pursuance of previous compound experiences; Belgium, 1993) have chosen the federal model. Due consideration is to be given also to the fact that in some cases European states (whether federal or regional) have tried to cope with issues of identity of national minorities.

The problem of classification of constitutional systems is a permanent concern of the method of comparative law; and yet mainstream scholarship appears to be less motivated to re-think categories that were previously widely debated and that are nowadays taken for granted.

Hence the need to try to give updated answers to a few crucial questions that involve re-thinking the outcome of established scholarship: does experience confirm that the category of the “regional state” has autonomous scientific foundations? Is the regional state a sort of “junior” federal state, with lesser powers than a member state in a federal union? Or is it but a variant of the unitary state, de-centralisation or devolution of legislative powers not affecting the essence of statehood? If a category by itself – a third pattern distinct from both the federal and the unitary ones – what are the distinguishing features of the regional state? Is the regional state under the balanced influence of both the federal and the unitary state? Or is it that regions tend towards a federal setting whereas central governments respond having in mind a centralised pattern? What are the advantages and the failures of the regional state that are not present also in federal and unitary states? Have regional states proved to be viable solutions for coping with the diversity of identity groups? Have regional states proved to be viable solutions for ensuring a balanced distribution of resources between the central and the regional governments?

This Call for papers aims at elaborating answers to such and similar questions. The need to re-think former classifications as well the underlying systematic reasoning suggests to direct this invitation only to a younger generation of European scholars (post-doc, to be qualified as referred to less than 5 years since achieving PhD). Although the main focus is in the scientific field of comparative constitutional law, interdisciplinary papers taking into account also the contribution from economics, political science and sociology are welcome.

Those interested are requested to send an abstract of their paper (in English, max 1000 words) to the following address [email protected] and indicating your name and surname, and specifying your status of post-doc at which European academic institution. The deadline for sending such abstracts is February 9th, 2015. The abstracts will allow the selection of applicants who then will be notified by March 10th, 2015 and requested to write a draft paper (in English, max 15.000 words) to be sent by May 31st, 2015 and to be presented at a seminar that will take place in Trento on July 9th and 10th 2015. The selected papers will be discussed by all the authors as well by a panel of distinguished scholars. The final revised papers – or at least a selection of them – will be published either on the web or in a volume.

Travelling and accommodation expenses will be taken care of by the University of Trento and by Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.

We look forward to receiving interesting, innovative and provocative abstracts and papers and to participate to a stimulating debate.

Roberto Toniatti Alejandro Saiz Arnaiz

Professor of comparative Jean Monnet Professor

constitutional law of European Constitutional Law

University of Trento Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona


Eva Maria Belser

Prof. Dr. iur., Chair of Constitutional and Administrative Law,

Co-Director, Institute of Federalism

University of Fribourg

Peter Leyland

Professor of Public Law

London Metropolitan University

Luis López Guerra

Professor of constitutional law

University Carlos III, Madrid

Judge, European Court of Human Rights

Karl-Peter Sommermann

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c., Chair of Public Law, State Theory and Comparative Law

German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer