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FEDERALISM   Tags: decentralization  

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Horizontal and Vertical Federalism Print Page

Horizontal and Vertical Federalism

Horizontal federalism refers to the ways state governments relate to one another. It refers to the separation of powers within the national government that take into account regional interests.

Vertical federalism refers to the divisions between a national government and subnational (regional) units. This can mean more powers to the subnational entities, thus appeasing local tribes and providing an outlet for the many militias, for example, by integrating them into local security authorities. Vertical division of power intends to allow a state to slowly build a national political infrastructure, while local authorities can maintain day to day operations.



Zimmerman, Joseph. Horizontal Federalism: Interstate Relations. SUNY Press, 2011.
About: Cooperative interstate relations are essential for the maintenance of the economic union and the political union established by a confederacy or a federacy. This volume provides detailed information and an analysis of interstate relations, and advances recommendations to improve the economic and political union. The ultimate goal is to stimulate scholarly research on important yet neglected interstate issues.

Research Papers

Erbsen, Allan. "Horizontal Federalism," Minnesota Law Review 93 (2008-2009): 498-584.

Summary: This Article constructs frameworks for analyzing federalism's undertheorized horizontal dimension. Discussions of federalism generally focus on the hierarchical (or vertical) allocation of power between the national and state governments while overlooking the horizontal allocation of power among coequal states. 

Dodson, Scott. "Vectoral Federalism," Ga. St. U. L. Rev.  20 (2002): 393-460.

Summary: This Article offers a new framework for understanding federalism. Viewing federalism doctrines as having vertical or horizontal vectors (or both) identifies their common justifications and characteristics, which can assist in understanding and in applying the principles of federalism.


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