Preventing local profligacy (or Fiscal Federalism 201)

As I wrote previously, fiscal federalism allows local governments to adjust their policies to local circumstances, but this often entails transfers from the central government to local governments. Often, the central government can set particular policy goals for local governments, for instance, Dutch municipalities execute many parts of Dutch social policy. They have fairly little … Continue reading Preventing local profligacy (or Fiscal Federalism 201)

A Ballot Throne: does direct election matter for presidential power?

Part I: a discussion of Margit Tavits’ 2009 Presidents with Prime Ministers From kings and archons to presidents and prime ministers, positions of leadership and authority form a crucial part of every state. Different states have institutionally different positions of executive and legislative authority and different rules structuring their respective powers and relations, known as … Continue reading A Ballot Throne: does direct election matter for presidential power?

Executive type: basic definitions

A great deal of the literature comparing political institutions across countries has been devoted to the study of executive type (or executive format). By executive type I mean the institutional structure of the executive and legislative branches of a country (or other jurisdiction), their constitutionally-defined relationship and relative powers. Most people will be familiar with … Continue reading Executive type: basic definitions

Governments are like onions (or: Fiscal federalism 101).

Governments execute a wide array of tasks in modern societies, from maintaining infrastructure for traffic and water management, via providing health care and education to providing national defense and safety. With the exception of a few tiny countries like the Vatican, countries tend to have multiple levels of government to execute these tasks. For instance, … Continue reading Governments are like onions (or: Fiscal federalism 101).

The Golden Rule is Key: President von der Leyen and Western European Leaders are Undermining the EU’s Stability

"In response to Hungary’s new law banning “promoting or portraying as an end in itself” homosexuality or sex reassignment to minors and limiting sexual education in schools, the European Union and the Western media discourse has been indulging its worst nature. While touting the virtues of federalism, tolerance, and diversity in pursuit of stability, the … Continue reading The Golden Rule is Key: President von der Leyen and Western European Leaders are Undermining the EU’s Stability

Dutch voters have not become more punitive since the 1990s

In the Netherlands, like in other Western countries, we have been hearing the stories about the angry or alienated voter for a long time. Right wing populism has been present in parliament since the 1980s, and became really big with the electoral victory of Pim Fortuyn in the 2000s. Yet looking at the incumbency effect … Continue reading Dutch voters have not become more punitive since the 1990s

Federal Constitutional Politics: The Big Picture of the EU-Hungarian LGTBQ+ Law Controversy

We’ve Got to Get our Shit Together if We Want to Stay Together Hungary has been flouting liberal democratic norms for nearly a decade. In June 2021, it introduced a law regulating sex education and television programming for people under 18 to exclude ‘promotion’ of gay and transgender ways of being. Suddenly, the debate on … Continue reading Federal Constitutional Politics: The Big Picture of the EU-Hungarian LGTBQ+ Law Controversy

Welcome to Leviathan’s Couch

We are all part of a constitutional organisation larger than ourselves. The human being is a political animal, and wherever humans engage in complex association, exchange and dialogue, constitutional politics abound. Ultimately, constitutional politics is about the politics of the deep ‘close to the metal’ institutional structure of society.  Constitutional Politics are all around us.Institutions … Continue reading Welcome to Leviathan’s Couch