New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Francisco Cabrillo and Miguel A. Puchades-Navarro
Chapter 6: Democracy-preserving institutions: the quasi-federal system of South Africa
Since Montesquieu, de Tocqueville and the Federalists, federal and decentralized systems are considered as a political/constitutional medicine for introducing/preserving/enhancing democratic rule. This argument has been recently used for recommending federal/decentralized arrangements – as a starter of democracy – in a number of countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, and all with no tradition of democratic institutions. It has also been, and is still, used – as a preserving/ enhancing mechanism – for countries with democratic institutions that have been, or could be, put at risk by potentially democracy-undermining practices, such as sustained single party rule, as in the case of Mexico, or as at present in South Africa. The present chapter intends to contribute to this debate by illustrating and debating the case of South Africa, one of the most interesting cases of current decentralization processes. This interest stems not only from the peculiarities of the fiscal institutions that have been introduced and/ or transformed, but also from the peculiar socio-political framework in which the transformation is taking place.
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