266 MIZAN LAW REVIEW, Vol. 10, No.2 December 2016
Various comparative studies on different aspects of federalism have mostly
focused on territorial federal systems. This is, partly, because most of the
developed federal systems, which are considered as models, are territorial.
Thomas Hueglin and Alan Fenna have, for example, contributed a comparative
work on federalism from the perspective of democratic governance involving,
primarily, territorial federal systems including the US, Canada, Germany,
Australia and Switzerland.1 Michael Burgess uses such federal systems to make
a distinction between federalism and other forms of governance.2
In his comprehensive work on comparative federalism, ‘Comparing Federal
Systems’, Ronald Watts compares 25 federal systems.3 His work involves
territorial and non-territorial federal systems. However, this work gives
emphasis to territorial federal systems, and does not provide detailed analysis on
non-territorial federal systems like Ethiopia. We cannot expect such details as
his work involves almost all federations.
Assefa Fiseha compares differently designed –territorial and non-territorial–
federal systems from the perspective of accommodation of ‘ethno-linguistic
groups’ and division of legislative, executive and judicial powers.4 The Forum
of Federations, an international organization based in Canada, has also initiated
comparative studies on federalism involving both territorial and non-territorial
federal systems. Most of these studies emphasize on fiscal federalism, policy
making in federations, conflict management and decentralization of power.
This article builds on these works with a particular focus on the preservation
of unity and the protection of minorities by comparing differently designed
federal systems and incorporating new developments particularly in Ethiopia.
The focus of the article is on the role of federalism in preserving unity and
protecting the interests of minorities. These federations are designed differently
and their federal features can be used as inputs to draw lessons for federal
systems. The brief investigation into the ethnic based federal system in Ethiopia,
the formally centralized quasi-federal system in India and the territorial federal
system in the US is meant to give an overview on the role of different forms of
federalism in preserving unity and accommodating diverse interests.
The first two sections of the article present theoretical aspects of federalism,
unity, diversity and the protection of minorities. The third section explores
representativeness of shared federal institutions. The fourth section highlights
1 Thomas Hueglin and Alan Fenna (2006) , Comparative Federalism: A Systematic Inquiry,
University of Toronto Press, p. 1.
2 Michael Burgess (2006), Comparative Federalism: Theory and Practice, Routledge, pp.
3 Ronald Watts (2008), Comparing Federal Systems, Queens University Press, p. 1.
4Assefa Fiseha (2006), Federalism and the Accommodation of Diversity in Ethiopia: A
Comparative Study, Wolf Legal, pp. 2-14.