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Title: Why centralisation? : a comparative analysis of the Swiss cantons
Author: Mueller, Sean
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis seeks to explain the distribution of powers and responsibilities between levels of government on a territorially different basis. Such (de)centralisation is conceptualised in an innovative way as a continuum with three dimensions: an institutional or polity, a functional or policy-, and an actor and process oriented or politics-dimension. In order to explain (de)centralisation I further propose an original perspective, combining three hitherto isolated app roaches. This theoretical framework is subsequently tested by analysing decentralisation within the 26 Swiss cantons. I first provide a quantitative measure of cantonal decentralisation's three dimensions and integrate them into a single, composite index. Second, cantonal decentralisation is "predicted" using linear regression. Three significant independent variables emerge: political culture, area, and the strength of left-wing parties. Third, using a historical institutionalist approach ("process tracing"), I study four cantons - Vaud, Berne, Schwyz, and Grisons - over time to move from identifying correlation to establish causation. The results of this qualitative endeavour fully confirm my quantitative model. The thesis also compares the same four cantons in asking whether and what kind of difference decentralisation actually makes to cantonal politics (so what). Finally, based on this twofold explanation and contemporary observation I develop an explanatory typology comprising all 26 cantons and draw several implications, thus linking empirical evidence to theoretical propositions. In presenting the first ever comprehensive and systematic comparison of Swiss cantonal decentralisation, I am therefore also able to draw causal inferences for (de)centralisation as such. The thesis concludes by urging future federalism and territorial politics studies to a) reconceptualise decentralisation into three distinct but related dimensions and to b) bridge the theoretical gap between socio-cultural, structural and party-political approaches to achieve more valid and reliable explanations of territorial governance .
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available