Federalism & the COVID-19 Pandemic - A compendium of (re)sources

1. Blogs or websites dedicated to the pandemic and/or federalism
2. Podcasts / videos / conferences
3. Research projects and calls for papers
4. Specific federations
5. Comparing federations

The MacKell Chair team is collecting sources on the intersection between federalism-writ-large and COVID-19.

We update every other week. New materials are added to top of each section/country. Please email relevant articles, links, etc. at federalism-covid19.law [at] mcgill.ca.

Last update: 19 November 2020.

1. Blogs or websites (partly) dedicated to the pandemic and/or federalism
Blogues et sites (partiellement) consacrés à la pandémie et/ou au fédéralisme

  • Law School Policy Review: This webinar series cum blog symposium – organized by the student wing of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, the Kautilya Society, in partnership with the Young Scholars Initiative – aims to analyse key policy decisions have already been made by the governments, over the past weeks as the country wrestled with the pandemic. Indian federalism is one of the three main themes.
  • The COVID Comparative Project: The COVID Comparative Project at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy features 16 country case studies conducted by University of Toronto undergraduate students, under the supervision of Professor Joseph Wong. It includes articles from federal systems such as, Germany, Brazil, China, Canada, India, Italy, UK, and the US.
  • The Canadian Constitution Foundation has created a COVID-19 Watch section where it regularly publishes articles on policy responses by provincial governments and the Canadian government.
  • The Centre for Constitutional Studies (University of Alberta) launched a blog on Pandemic Powers and Constitution.
  • The PEX Network is publishing a compilation of articles from political scientists analyzing the response of the executives from all over the world. The series includes articles on the analysis of multi-level governance in Germany and the United States.
  • The Coronavirus Challenge to Governance in Canada: The School of Policy Studies of Queen’s University has established a Governance Working Group that publishes op-eds in the Ottawa Citizen. Please visit the Group’s site for more information on the working group and all the published articles.
  • The AUSPUBLAW Blog has a special series exploring the public law implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. These posts are written for the blog by a range of public law scholars and practitioners from across Australia.
  • IACL-AICC Blog: The IACL blog launched a Vlog Symposium called “Constitutional Reflections on the Pandemic.”
  • COVID Response – Birmingham University (SUNY): The lab’s website offers a focus on the role of democratic institutions generally, and among democracies – of the institutions of federalism in particular, in effecting policy responses during crises.
  • The Regulatory Review: This publication’s website includes a section dedicated to essays that discuss the administrative law and regulatory dimensions to the global response to COVID-19.
  • Canadian Journal of Political Science: The Journal regularly publishes accepted manuscripts and research notes on its website.
  • Centre for Civil and Political Rights: The Centre created a compilation based on the data on measures taken by States in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic that may influence the state's ability to ensure the rights and obligations protected by the ICCPR.
  • Institute for Government: The Institute’s website includes a page on UK Devolution and COVID-19.
  • La Chaire de recherche en fiscalité et en finances publiques à l’Université de Sherbrooke: Ce site web fait un suivi des mesures économiques gouvernementales découlant de la crise de la COVID-19 au Québec, au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde.
  • Hunton Andrews Kurth Complaint Tracker: The firm is offering a tracker that allows to see civil complaints in the US and its topic state by state.
  • Daniel Turp: Sur son site web, le prof. Turp publie régulièrement un recueil des décrets et arrêtés [.doc, version: 10 mai 2020] visant à protéger la santé de la population du Québec dans la situation de pandémie de la COVID-19.
  • Forum of Federations : two collections of articles on Pandemic responses in different federations: Federalism and COVID, and Devolution and COVID.
  • Cambridge Core Blog: blog series by Health Economics, Policy and Law on country responses to COVID-19. Includes blog posts on many countries including federal systems, but also about several constituent units within federal/quasi-federal systems, i.e. British Columbia (Canada), Kerala (India), Bergamo (Italy), Minnesota, New Jersey, Wisconsin (US).
  • Policy Options / Options politiques: publishes articles on COVID-19 crisis regularly.
  • La COVID dans les Amériques : Série de billets dirigée par l’Institut des Amériques et « Interdisciplinary Global Environmental Studies » sur la COVID-19 aux Amériques.
  • Verfassungsblog: A special debate section dedicated to blog posts regarding the states of emergency and democracy around the world with some discussions of federalism.
  • Covid-Dem: An info hub maintained by Tom Gerald Daly on democracy and COVID-19 crisis.
  • (Re-)Imagining Territorial Politics in Times of Crisis: UACES-JMCT Research Network launched a new blog exploring the drivers and consequences of territorial conflicts in multi-level and pluri-national societies during these turbulent times including COVID-19 crisis.
  • iPolitics: The website now has a policy portal for COVID-19 related articles.
  • CRIDAQ: Le centre a créé une rubrique pour accéder plus facilement aux articles de ses membres sur la COVID-19.

2. Podcasts / videos / conferences
Balados / vidéos / conférences

  • Belgique & Suisse (Belgium & Switzerland): Dans leur épisode du 1er novembre, les chroniqueurs du programme « Les Beaux Parleurs » se demandent si le fédéralisme constitue un défi dans la lutte contre la pandémie.
  • Canada: IPAC- IAPC organised an online panel on COVID-19 and federalism featuring Charles Breton, Mireille Paquet, Robert Schertzeer, and Roxanna Benoit. The panel is available on YouTube.
  • United States (Etats-Unis): National Assocation of Counties is organizing an online event on “Examining Federalism and the Intergovernmental Partnership”. The event was held on October 21, 2020.
  • United States (Etats-Unis): Federalism Index Project is organizing a two-day virtual event entitled “Federalism on Trial: Lessons from COVID-19”. The event was on October 21-22, 2020. For detailed information, please visit the website.
  • International Association of Centres for Federal Studies (IACFS) is organizing a conference whose theme is “Combating the COVID-19 pandemic: Federalism a boon or bane?” The aim is to reflect on how, since the first outbreak of the virus in a country, the federal system functioned and responded over the crucial period ending in October 2020. The conference is taking place online on October 15-16, 2020. To obtain the link and the program, please contact the association.
  • Asia & the Pacific: The 5th Melbourne Forum on Constitution Building in Asia and the Pacific at Melbourne Law School was hosted by the Constitution Transformation Network and by International IDEA. The third webinar of the forum was dedicated to Multi-level governments and COVID-19. Participants were Anne Twomey (Australia), Budhi Karki (Nepal), Ramdas Menon (India), and Yasser KureshiIt (Pakistan). The panel was moderated by William Partlett. The recording of the webinar can be viewed here.
  • Canada: Runnymede Society’s McGill branch plans an online discussion with Dr. Ryan Alford on government emergency powers in a pandemic on 14 October 2020.
  • Latin America & Carribeans: Forum of Federation’s webinar, “Subnational Governments in the COVID-19 Scenario in the Americas”, explores the dynamics and practices of subnational and local governments in responding to the challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • United States (États-Unis): The Solomon Center for Health Law & Policy at Yale Law School is organizing a virtual COVID-19 workshop on COVID, federalism, and localism  on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 5:00PM - 6:30PM.
  • Latin America (Amérique Latine): The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University is organizing a webinar entitled “Federalism and COVID Responses” on 17 November 2020. Please visit the website for more information.
  • India (Inde): In August, the Institute of Law at Nirma University organized a webinar featuring Abhishek Singhvi as speaker. The webinar is entitled Federalism: Origin, Evolution and Post Covid Times.
  • United States (États-Unis): In this virtual panel from Harvard Kennedy School, Matthew Baum, Erica Chenoweth, and Archon Fung discuss the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on democracies across the world. Fung’s talk particularly focuses on federalism.
  • United States (États-Unis): In this webinar, Donald Verilli, Elizabeth (Bessie) N. Dewar, and Michelle Mello discuss the opportunities and challenges of the US federalism during this pandemic.
  • Forum of Federations launched a podcast series that examines the principles and practice of federal and multi-level governance systems with a comparative international perspective. Each episode addresses a key governance issue with world-leading practitioners and scholars from the Forum’s global expert network.
  • Hoover Institution is organizing a webinar on "Federalism and COVID-19" with Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. and Lanhee J. Chen on Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
  • Argentina (Argentine): In this edition of the IACL-AIDC Vlog Series, Pablo Riberi talks about Argentina.
  • Mexico (Mexique): In this edition to IACL-AIDC Vlog Series, Eugenio Velasco Ibarra explains how Mexico handled the crisis.
  • United States (États-Unis): In this video, J. Wesley Leckrone explores how federalism has affected the United States' response to COVID-19.
  • United States (États-Unis): In this podcast, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush talks about the US federalism and challenges that the States are facing during this crisis.
  • On 30 June 2020, American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University is organizing a webinar on how states’ responses to COVID-19 shaped the national response with a focus on US and Germany. The webinar will feature leaders of two of the largest and most densely populated states in Germany and the US, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and North-Rhine Westphalia Minister-President Armin Laschet.
  • On 29 June 2020, the Institute of Federalism is organizing a webinar on the role and impact of federalism on effective crisis management.
  • EURAC’s Institute for Minority Rights is organizing a series of webinars on Minority Rights and COVID-19.
  • Australia (Australie): In this IACL-AICC vlog episode, Cheryl Saunders talks about Australia’s response to COVID-19.
  • Ethiopia (Ethiopie): In this IACL-AICC vlog episode, Berihun Adugna talks about Ethiopia’s response to COVID-19.
  • Nigeria (Nigéria): In this IACL-AICC vlog episode, Fola Adeleke talks about Nigeria’s response to COVID-19.
  • United Kingdom (Royaume-Uni): On 23 June, the Institute for Government will publish a pre-recorded for the IfG LIVE podcast in which the First Minister of Wales, the Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS will join Bronwen Maddox, Director of the Institute for Government, to discuss the relationship between Westminster and Cardiff, how the Welsh government has forged its path and the rebuilding of the UK’s economy.
  • India (Inde): Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT) shared the recording of their webinar on COVID-19 Pandemic and Fiscal Federalism in India.
  • United States (États-Unis): The Federalist Society published the recording of the panel on Federalism and COVID-19 from their virtual conference on “COVID-19 & the Law”.
  • India (Inde): In this video from the first episode of Political Pulse, Dinesh Trivedi, Neerja Chowdhury, Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Puneet Nicholas Yadav and moderator Mirza Arif Beg discuss if Indian federalism took a blow during the pandemic.
  • USA (États-Unis): In this short video, Professor Keith Whittington of Princeton University discusses how states have traditionally exerted their authority as they see fit, particularly in a time of a health crisis, and how federal courts can monitor whether a state has unduly violated individual rights or interstate commerce.
  • USA (États-Unis): The Federalist Society is organizing a virtual conference on “COVID-19 & Law” on 11-12 June 2020. The conference will includes a panel dedicated to federalism and COVID-19. See registration information and program.
  • Canada & Hungary / Canada & Hongrie: This webinar on COVID-19: Emergency Powers and Legal Principle: addresses and explains the concept of a ‘state of emergency’ in both the Canadian and Hungarian contexts. Professors David Dyzenhaus and Paul Daly explore what a state of emergency means, examine Canada’s federal and provincial responses to the current public health crisis, and suggest strategies on how to ensure that government power is not abused.
  • Mexico, USA & Brazil / Mexique, Etats-Unis, Brésil: In this webinar, Alberto Diyaz-Cayeros discusses how federalism impacted the Mexican response to the pandemic. He also comments on US and Brazilian federalism.
  • USA / États-Unis: In this virtual policy briefing, John Yoo discusses COVID-19 and US federalism.
  • USA / États-Unis: Aziz Huq, Miriam Seifter, and Debra Perlin discuss the division of decision-making authority in a public health crisis between the federal and state governments in the US Constitution. They try to determine if federal system an advantage or disadvantage in the fight against COVID-19 in this recording of their webinar entitled Federalism: Friend or Foe? Federal & State Authority to Fight COVID-19.
  • USA / États-Unis: In this video entitled “COVID-19 vs. the Constitution: How Far Can Governors Go to Fight the Virus?”, Meryl Chertoff (moderator), Esha Bhandari, Lawrence O. Gostin, Juliette Kayyem, and Jeffrey Locke review the scanty relevant case law in the US. They discuss the federal public health laws governing quarantine and travel limits; consider what powers governors have to limit individual rights and to keep nonresidents out; and explore how constitutional principles on the right to travel; privileges and immunities; and due process could be invoked.
  • USA / États-Unis: At a “teleforum” event organized by the Federalist Society, John Malcolm and John Yoo discuss the balance of powers in the US between the President, Congress, and state governors over lockdown and re-opening policy, testing, and medical expertise.
  • USA / États-Unis: This Lawfare Blog podcast includes a case study of how pandemic control measures intersect with federalism issues and supply chain continuity & security, focusing on what is happening in Illinois. Jen Patja Howell moderates this discussion with David Priess and Mark Denzler.
  • Canada: McGill Institute for the Study of Canada video titled A Critical Juncture in Fiscal Federalism? Canada & COVID-19, where Profs Daniel Béland (McGill U.), Mireille Paquet (Concordia U.), André Lecours (U. Ottawa), and Trevor Tombe (U. Calgary) present their Canadian Journal of Political Science research note, which combines insights from historical institutionalism with recent economic and fiscal projections to explore avenues for reform in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • United Kingdom / Royaume Uni: Test, trace and trust: digital technologies & the COVID-19 response across the UK’s devolved nations: Ada Lovelace Institute organized a webinar where panelists discuss the governance and implementation of emerging technologies and how joined-up approaches to COVID-19 across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales could help to contain the virus and encourage public trust. Speakers are Dr Angela Daly (Strathclyde U.), Professor Maurice Mulvenna (Ulster U.), and Professor Pete Burnap (Cardiff U.). You can also read a written summary of the webinar.
  • Canada: Alain-G. Gagnon parle du partage des risques entre les institutions régissant la fédération canadienne en temps de crise dans ce balado.
  • Australia / Australie: Cheryl Saunders explains the “National Cabinet”, an ad hoc Australian intergovernmental institution set up for responding to COVID-19 in this video.
  • Germany / Allemagne: Centre Interdisciplinaire d’Études et de Recherche sur l’Allemagne (CIERA, Paris) présente des capsules vidéos appelées « Instantanés » sur la lutte contre la COVID. Dans la première vidéo, Karim Fertikh propose des pistes de réflexions sur le modèle allemand, y compris une réflexion sur les effets du fédéralisme allemand dans cette lutte. Dans la deuxième vidéo, Christophe Duhamelle interroge le fédéralisme allemand à la lumière d’autres épidémies de l’histoire allemande.
  • USA / États-Unis: In this podcast from Legal Talk Network, Professors Robert Tsai and Glenn Cohen discuss federalism in the US and states’ powers in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Germany, EU & international / Allemagne, UE et international: Verfassungsblog is organizing three online discussions on COVID-19 crisis regarding with German, European and International perspectives.
  • Minorities and COVID-19 webinar series: Eurac Research Institute for Minority Rights, WEBINAR: Episode 3: Minorities, territorial governance and inter-state relations in pandemic times, Wed. 27 May, 3-4pm CET. Registration (https://scientificnet.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEuce6hqD8uE9Egye0dmB7V0zc1zvdYEWA_)

3. Existing research projects and calls for papers
Projets de recherche en cours et appels à contribution

  • Covid-19, internal boundaries and regional governance: The Foreign Languages Department at Université Grenoble Alpes is organizing a series of seminars that aims to take stock of the short- and medium-term impact of the crisis on relations between central and regional governments. Submissions will consist in a 300-word summary and a short bibliography, and should be sent in English or in French before 27 November 2020. For more information, see the call for papers.
  • Canadian Journal of Political Science: The Canadian Journal of Political Science is now accepting short research notes (2,000 words or less) devoted to the coronavirus pandemic for rapid peer review and publication. They will accept submissions for the COVID-19 rapid review series until 31 May 2020. After that date, they will continue to accept submissions related to COVID-19 as part of their regular research note and article manuscript submissions. Please see the call for more details.
  • The Review of Constitutional Studies: The Journal is now accepting submissions of manuscripts in English or French for its next two issues. For Issue 25.2, papers focusing on the constitutional implications of emergency powers in response to the recent health and environmental crises are particularly welcome. The deadline for submitting a manuscript for this issue is 30 September 2020. Please see the call for papers more information.
  • Colloque étudiant virtuel sur le rôle des sciences sociales et humaines dans la redéfinition du vivre-ensemble : regards transdisciplinaires sur les sorties de crise: L’UOF et l’Acfas invitent les étudiantes et les étudiants au 2e et au 3e cycles ainsi que les jeunes chercheurs de toutes les disciplines à soumettre des projets de communication qui portent sur les différentes dimensions du vivre-ensemble impliquées par la crise de COVID-19. Les propositions doivent contenir un maximum de 500 mots incluant le titre, la question de recherche, les principales conclusions ainsi qu’un lien avec le thème du colloque. Elles doivent être rédigées en format Times New Roman avec une police de taille 12 et une interligne de 1,5. Le nom du fichier de la proposition doit suivre la forme suivante : prénom_nom_titre de la proposition. Elles doivent être soumises par courriel avant le 15 juin 2020. Toutes les propositions doivent être envoyées à l’adresse suivante : jade.boivin [at] uontario.ca
  • CRIDAQ : Le Centre de recherche fait un appel à projet spécial COVID-19 pour ses membres.
  • Public Law: The Public Law journal welcomes submissions to journal’s analysis section dealing with issues relating to the public law dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Editors would keen to receive pieces with varied perspectives including (but not limited to) territorial relations and policy variation between the UK’s governments and comparative reflections on “emergency” responses in other jurisdictions. See here for more information.
  • Centre for Constitutional Studies at University of Alberta welcomes posts for their ‘Pandemic Powers and the Constitution Blog’. Please see the call for posts.
  • The National Journal of Constitutional Law is calling for submissions of papers for possible publication in late 2020 and 2021 on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the federalism/ human rights and civil liberties in Canada, and the constitutional and administrative law aspects of the use of emergency legislation and the role of judicial review of emergency measures in Canada. The Journal welcomes comparative analysis of these issues in other liberal democratic or federal countries. The suggested deadline is September 30, 2020. Usual paper length is between 8,000 to 10,000 words. Due to the short time frame, shorter papers will also be considered. Papers can be submitted to Professor Errol Mendes at emendes [at] uottawa.ca (.)
  • Writing Competition on Federalism: The theme for the third edition of the Baxter Family Competition on Federalism is 'Federalism, Identity and Public Policy in Challenging Times', which allows for, without being limited to, reflections on the impact of federalism on the coronavirus pandemic and vice versa. Restricted to students in law or in political science, and to jurists and political scientists having graduated less than five years before the Competition's deadline of February 1, 2021. Maximum word count is 8,000 words in English and 8,800 in French. Prizes ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 CAD$ will be awarded to winners, who will have the chance to present their work at a symposium in Montreal, if circumstances permit. Details will follow here, but mark your calendars!

4. Articles on specific federations
Articles portant sur des fédérations spécifiques


Argentina / Argentine

Australia / Australie

Austria / Autriche

  • Anna Gamper, “Austrian Federalism and the Corona Pandemic”, Institut für Federalismus Blog, 5 June 2020: Gamper explains the challenges that Austrian federalism faced during the pandemic, especially the centralizing effect and Tyrol’s unique situation during the crisis.
  • Peter Bußjäger, COVID-19 crisis challenging Austria’s cooperative federalism”, Institut für Föderalismus Blog, 28 April 2020: The author focuses on some of the mistakes made in handling of the crisis and underlines the importance of intergovernmental cooperation.

Belgium / Belgique

Bosnia and Herzegovina / Bosnie-Herzégovine

Brazil / Brésil

China / Chine

Colombia / Colombie

  • Juan Carlos Covilla Martínez, “Coordinating Colombia’s Pandemic Response”, The Regulatory Review, 3 June 2020: In this article, Martínez argues that Colombia lacks procedures for ensuring coordination among different levels of government.

European Union / Union européenne

Council of Europe/ Conseil d’Europe

Ethiopia / Éthiopie

Germany / Allemagne

India / Inde

Italy / Italie

Kenya / Kenya

  • Rosa B. Osoro, “Devolution And Covid-19 Crisis: A Kenyan Perspective”, Forum of Federations Blog, May 2020: Osoro explains how the national government has strictly centralized the overall response process. She argues that there is need for concerted and deliberate intergovernmental approaches.

Malaysia / Malaysie

Mexico / Mexique

Nepal / Népal

Nigeria / Nigéria


Russia / Russie

Spain / Espagne

  • Patricia García Majado, “The Covid-19 Measures in Madrid, and why they Suffered Defeat in Court”, Verfassungsblog, 11 October 2020: Majado explains the legal issues regarding the Court’s refusal to ratify a perimeter closure issued by the Community of Madrid.
  • Sandra León, Amuitz Garmendia Madariaga, “Popular Reactions To External Threats in Federations”, SocArXiv Papers, 1 June 2020: Authors argue that in search of a more effective response against the threat, citizens coordinate their preferences around the centralization of authority boundaries in the federation. They test this argument using an on-line survey experiment in Spain, a country where the threat caused by COVID-19 has operated on top of non-negligible internal threats.
  • Mireia Grau-Creus, Marc Sanjaume-Calvet,” ‘Loyalty does not mean submission’: On the COVID-19 measures and the apparently surprising features of the Spanish territorial modelUACES Territorial Politics Blog, 26 May 2020: Authors argue that this crisis has revealed the structurally centralized features of the Spanish intergovernmental system and, in extension, of the whole territorial institutional system.
  • Susana de la Sierra, “Old Norms and New Challenges in Spain’s Response to COVID-19”, The Regulatory Review, 20 May 2020: Author explains the challenges surfaced due to COVID-19 and mentions the centralizing effect of the measures taken by the Spanish government.
  • Alba Nogueira López, Gabriel Doménech Pascual, “Fighting COVID 19 – Legal Powers and Risks: Spain”, Verfassungsblog, 30 March 2020: Authors look at major legal issues related to COVID-19, including the question of whether the central government should have powers devolved to better manage the crisis power grab of the central government.
  • Ayoze Corujo, Acaymo Viera, “Canary Islands, Spain and Covid-19”, UACES Territorial Politics, 19 May 2020: Authors focus specifically on the relationship between the Canary Islands and Spain while explaining how and why the central government is adopting territorially different responses for the exit strategy.
  • Fernando Jiménez Sánchez est, “The Political Management of the Covid-19 Crisis in Spain” [.pdf], Fondation Robert Schuman, April 2020: Author provides a limited and provisional analysis of the impact of COVID-19 related measures on the system of government and highlights the lack of coordination between regions.
  • Miguel Ángel Presno Linera, “Beyond the State of Alarm: COVID-19 in Spain”, Verfassungsblog, 13 May 2020: Linera outlines the legal foundations of the State of Alarm declared by the Spanish government and explains how Spain’s decentralized structure fits into this frame.
  • Mario Kölling, “Federalism and the COVID-19 crisis: A perspective from Spain”, Forum of Federations Blog, April 2020: Kölling describes Spain’s healthcare system and the rapid federal response to the pandemic.

South Africa / Afrique du Sud

Switzerland / Suisse

United Kingdom / Royaume-Uni

United States / États-Unis

5. Comparing federations
Les fédérations comparées

This list was prepared by Mr. Atagün Kejanlioglu, DCL candidate, and Professor Johanne Poirier, Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, Faculty of Law, McGill University. Our thanks to the Research Group on Plurinational Societies for its support.

Please email relevant articles, links, etc. at federalism-covid19.law [at] mcgill.ca.

And please stay safe! / Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches!

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