Francesco Palermo, head of the Institute for Comparative Federalism, has been reappointed for a second mandate as president of the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies (IACFS). For the next three years, Palermo will lead the executive to further enlarge the association and increase its impact across the world.
What does the IACFS do?
Palermo: The International Association of Centres for Federal Studies is an international group convened in 1977 to study and understand federal principles and patterns. We are an interdisciplinary association of centers and institutes throughout the world with interests in independent research and publication about political systems that are federal in nature. The IACFS is the place to go for federal issues in the broadest sense.
How does that impact the promotion of federalism?
The association is home to the leading experts in the field, dealing with the constitutional, legal, administrative, fiscal, economic, historical and philosophical issues relevant to federal systems. Decision-makers often resort to IACFS members for their expertise. Furthermore, most young scholars are trained in the member centres, often becoming influential academics or political leaders in their countries.
Can you give an example of a current hotspots of federalism in the world and how the IACFS can play a role?
Catalonia and Brexit are just two out of many examples. Federalism is about finding solutions to bring together different players with different views. The same goes for decentralization processes that are going on in several parts of the world, including in South East Asia. The IACFS has no agenda as such on these issues, it simply provides expertise when needed. The demand is growing and often the experts of our association have a role to play in helping to devise solutions with evidence-based consulting and resources.
Francesco Palermo became president of the IACFS in 2016 and will lead until 2022. The current Executive Committee also includes Vice Presidents Eva Maria Belser (University of Fribourg) and Alain Gagnon (Université du Québec à Montréal) and Treasurer Jaap de Visser (University of the Western Cape).