Special Issue Call Now Open (https://fro.ntiers.in/MY9W)
In the last decade, three events have shaken governance in advanced democracies: the financial crisis that broke out in 2008, subsequently leading to the ‘Great Recession’ in a majority of European countries; the increase in political polarization due to the increase of left-wing and right-wing populist parties across western democracies; and undoubtedly the Covid-19 epidemic. These events have had an impact on the operation of federal and decentralized systems; the economic crisis has enhanced the tensions between the redistributive role of the central government and the political autonomy of subnational units, in some cases resulting in a reversal of fiscal decentralization arrangements; the strengthening of populist parties in some subnational units has changed regional party systems as well as national electoral dynamics; the Covid-19 pandemic has presented a daunting challenge for intergovernmental coordination. Yet the literature in these areas have so far provided a limited understanding of the implications of these crises at the subnational level and, more generally, upon the operation of federal and decentralized systems.
This Research Topic aims to explore federalism and multilevel politics in light of the economic recession that hit European countries in the last decade; the increase in political polarization due to the rise of populist parties; and the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. It welcomes works that provide a better understanding of the effects of the economic crisis on fiscal arrangements; the impact of populist parties on public attitudes towards the territorial cleavage and nationalist parties’ territorial discourse/party manifesto positioning; the challenge polarization poses to electoral accountability in multilevel systems and to the institutional operation of federal and devolved entities, such as intra and intergovernmental dynamics; the intertwined relationship between economic crisis, populism and the upsurge of secessionist demands and on how federations have coped with the coordination challenge to fight coronavirus epidemic.
Ultimately, this Research Topic aims to further our academic knowledge of the promises of federalism and decentralized governance. Federalism and decentralization have been advocated around the world on the back of the promise of better governance, economic efficiency and the appeasement of ethnic conflict. As the literature has shown, the consequences of such institutional reforms have been mixed: in some cases, federal institutions have helped to reinforce democratic transitions and reduce ethnic conflict, whereas in other cases federal arrangements have been perilous and resulted in poor fiscal management, separatist conflict and decreased accountability. This Research Topic aims to measure the democratic and efficiency-specific promises of federal and decentralized governance against the challenges that economic crisis, the upsurge of polarization and the Covid-19 pandemic pose to the institutional arrangements and operation of multilevel systems.