In industrialized liberal democracies, the decentralization of political power requires the presence of intergovernmental relations as an important component of the public policy process. Responding to major contemporary global challenges such as global warming and population movements therefore often involves the participation of different levels of government within a State. Federalism and multi-level governance in industrialized liberal democracies also raise questions of legitimacy, constitutionalism and democratic practices related to the conditions under which communities can integrate and leave political blocs. In democratizing states, the decentralization of political power is usually a necessary condition for people's engagement in processes of significant political and institutional change. In these States, federalism and multi-level governance are typically called upon to manage significant challenges of rebuilding political institutions, accommodating cultural and territorial diversity, economic and social development and shaping democracy. Without decentralization of political power, few processes of transition to democracy can succeed. The Centre's research focus on federalism and multi-level governance therefore makes it possible to address both the major contemporary political issues such as democracy and political legitimacy as well as the most pressing issues such as the environment, diversity and development.
Federalism and multi-level governance are at the heart of contemporary politics.