Federalism, rights, and backlash in Europe and the United States

T. Kleinlein*, B. Petkova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article introduces the symposium "Federalism and Rights: Europe and the United States Compared." In both the European Union and the United States, the struggle for rights and the resilience of (quasi-)federal structures is, once again, a burning issue. In Europe, the overall trajectory of the EU as a common project is also contested. As in the USA, struggles within the (quasi-)federal structure of the EU serve as the pursuit of political contestation through legal means. In federalism theory, neither the experimentation narrative nor the notion of "dissenting by deciding" tells us where to draw the line between fruitful experimentation, contestation, and struggle, on the one hand, and devastating backlash, on the other. With the looming rise of nationalist populist movements such as Brexit, but also the faltering democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, today the question becomes to what extent states and localities can still channel some of this new wave of backlash and counter backlash facing both the EU and the United States. Comparative research that would help us to learn how to distinguish between productive and dangerous backlash is still at the very beginning. Yet the case studies in this symposium lay the groundwork for comparative answers to this very question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1079
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Constitutional Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
EventConference on Federalism(s) and Rights - Europe and United States Compared - , Unknown
Duration: 1 Oct 20171 Oct 2017




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