Out of balance: Executive dominance in federal settings

John Erik Fossum (ARENA) has co-authored a chapter in the new book Federal Democracies at Work.

About the book 

Scholars widely agree that a federal system cannot work effectively without democracy. As a result of the division or sharing of powers between levels of government, there remains considerable uncertainty about how rules or patterns of politics between the executive and legislative branches interact. Combining theoretical analyses and selected case studies, Federal Democracies at Work contributes to our understanding of the complex relations between federalism and democracy.

Throughout the volume, contributing authors elaborate and apply an innovative analytical framework to provide greater clarity on the complex relations between federalism and democracy. As a whole, the volume explores how different institutional configurations of federal democracies alleviate or intensify inherent tensions; how actors grapple and cope with the challenge of these complexities; and how structures evolve as a result of rising conflicts and institutional reforms or adjustments. In doing so, Federal Democracies at Work advances research on comparative federalism and works toward a better understanding of how these compound systems work.

Out of Balance: Executive Dominance in Federal Settings 

The purpose of this chapter is to shed light on a particular form of imbalance – namely, executive dominance in federal-type systems. The assumption that informs this chapter is that federal systems give a distinct twist to executive dominance. John Erik Fossum and David Laycock argue that executive dominance is a particularly useful concept for examining legislative-executive relations, both within and across levels of governance.

First, they spell out the core features of the neo-republican conception of democracy of non-domination, while acknowledging several other conceptualizations of non-domination. Revisiting this debate allows them to identify more precise criteria for (non-)domination. Second, they draw on these criteria to clarify three forms of executive dominance related to decision-making, intergovernmental relations, and constitutional and institutional design. These are illustrated with examples from Canada and the EU.

Full info 

John Erik Fossum and David Laycock
Out of Balance: Executive Dominance in Federal Settings

In: Federal Democracies at Work
Arthur Benz and Jared Sonnicksen (eds.)
University of Toronto Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4875-0900-2



Published June 29, 2021 11:16 AM - Last modified July 13, 2021 11:28 AM