Between State, Local Government and Market
Edited by Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou
Chapter 2: The Multi-level Institutional Setting in Germany, Italy, France and the UK: A Comparative Overview
Hellmut Wollmann, Enzo Balboni, Jean-Pierre Gaudin and Gérard Marcou This chapter reviews the multi-level institutional architecture of Germany, France, Italy and the UK. This ‘mapping’ provides institutional orientation and guidance for the following studies on the provision of public and social services in the four countries under discussion. GERMANY Federal Level Germany’s two-tier federal system comprises the federal level and 16 Länder or states, including three city states (Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen). The Länder have an average population of 5.2 million, ranging from 18 million (North Rhine–Westphalia) to 550 000 (Bremen) (see Table 2.1, line 1). Under the Federal Constitution (Grundgesetz) of 1949, the ‘social state’ (Sozialstaat) revolves around ‘human dignity’ (Würde des Menschen) and the ‘equality’ (Gleichheit) of every citizen, and is at the core of the ‘democratic and social federal state’ (Article 20).1 Federal legislation is constitutionally mandated (Article 72 II) to ‘ensure equal living conditions (gleichwertige Lebensbedingungen) on the territory of the Republic’. This has been widely interpreted as laying the foundations for what has been termed a ‘unitary federal state’ (unitarischer Bundesstaat) (Hesse, 1967). Under the complicated constitutional distinction between exclusive legislative competence (assigned either to the federation or the Länder) and concurrent (konkurrierende) legislative powers (which the federal level has generally come to exercise), the federal level has attained and held the primacy in legislation and policy-making. However, federal predominance is somewhat curbed by a vertical division of power and ‘checks and balances’. For example, 15 Table 2.1 Levels...
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