Workshop on “The Distribution of Authority – German and Russian Federalism in Comparison”

In all federations, a common feature has been the existence at one and the same time of powerful motives to be united for certain purposes and of deep-rooted motives for autonomous regional governments for other purposes. This has expressed itself in the design of federations by the distribution of powers between those assigned to the federal government for the purposes shared in common and those assigned to the regional units of government for the purposes related to the expression of regional identity.

The specific form and allocation of the distribution of powers has varied, however, relating to the underlying degrees and kinds of common interests and diversity within the particular society in question. Different geographical, historical, economic, security, cultural and international factors and the interrelation of these have been significant in contributing to the strength of the motives for union and for regional identity, and therefore have affected the particular distribution of powers in different federations. Because these factors are dynamic and constantly change, within each federation there is always a need to find a balance between the independence and interdependence of levels of government.

Indeed, both in Germany as well as in Russia there have been attempts in the last two decades to adapt the way responsibilities are distributed in light of changing political and societal preferences. Germany has seen major federal reforms in the last 25 years, so has Russia. Therefore, this workshop seeks to compare, analyse and draw lessons of these processes by discussing questions such as: how is the balance between unity and diversity expressed? How does the design of the political process look like by which the distribution of responsibilities in Germany and Russia is re-allocated? And how does this process affect the distribution of fiscal capacities needed to implement responsibilities?

This workshop will bring together experts on federalism and practitioners from Russia and Germany to discuss these issues in three interrelated sessions: the first block will shade light on processes and experiences of recent federal reforms in Germany and Russia, the second session will discuss questions of distribution of administrative responsibilities while the third session will focus on matter of fiscal relations between levels of government. The final and fourth session is meant to openly discuss future challenges in both countries from a federal perspective and which lessons might be drawn from a comparative exercise.

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