This means regions have to be self-reliant and able to assist poorer regions, said Hungarian Ambassador-at-Large Georg von Habsburg.

“So if you have many possibilities and you have poor regions beside you, it is also important to see how your neighbor is doing,” Habsburg said in an interview after his lecture on the Austro-Hungarian experience in federalism at De la Salle University last week.

Habsburg pointed out that unlike in a unitary government where a power center makes decisions that affects the day-to-day lives of people who live far away, the federal system gives the decision-making power to the regions and provinces.

Regions should be able to demonstrate that they are capable of solving problems by themselves, he said.

“And when you are capable of solving problems yourself, normally your country is developing and developing in a very positive direction,” the ambassador said.

A critical issue is how to make regions viable – “what would be the best way to put up entities and find the balance between economic strongholds and those parts that that are not so much economically developed,” he added.

Habsburg is a grandson of the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Charles I.


‘Supranational rule of law’

The Philippines has the prerogative of choosing what federal structure to adopt, but there should be a “supranational rule of law” above the federal states or regions that will help prevent conflict, he said.

“The idea is when there is difficulty or issue, you have a legal system to refer to and avoid conflict in the regions. This is also an idea that has to be taken very seriously,” Habsburg explained.

The government should also consider the position of minorities, and make sure they are better represented under a federal system.
Habsburg said political dynasties could be addressed under the federal system because as the form of government changes, the political system, including power structures, would also be altered.

“We have to adapt to a lot of things but the main imperative is we have to be always committed to solving problems peacefully and convince the people where you want to change the structure that they are also willing to accept and carry it forward,” he said.