Frank Delmartino (1939- 2015) - A Tribute by C. Lloyd Brown-John, Former Chair of the IPSA Comparative Federalism Research Committee
Publication date: Mon, 20 Jul 2015
By C. Lloyd Brown-John, Founder and former Chair, IPSA Comparative Federalism Research Committee.
Frank came into my life through the International Political Science Association and a call for papers for the 1982 World Congress in Rio de Janeiro.
Superficially I had been intrigued by the apparent tendencies some federally constituted states were tending towards great centralisation while others, Canada included, appeared to be developing various models which were moving competencies more to component units of federal political systems.
The IPSA Panel as proposed was to consist of six Papers. Frank Delmartino, already sensing the immense political shifts emerging in Belgium proposed a paper. I accepted his proposal and we met for the first time in Rio de Janeiro.
Rio attracted a wide range of participants. It also tended to divert attention away from the IPSA Congress and to the local beaches. Indeed, I attended another Panel’s session to fin that I was the only person in attendance as even the Paper presenters failed to show. That Panel was quickly cancelled.
However, on the day our Comparative Federalism Panel was scheduled, the weather did us a great favour and it rained in Rio! The room was packed and eventually from the crowd I was able to assemble an extensive list of academics interested in federalism. So enthusiastic was the turnout, then IPSA Secretary John Trent suggested I propose creation of an IPSA Study Group.
Within weeks the Proposal was submitted with Frank Delmartino as one of the Executive Members of the proposed Study Group.
I then tapped into the list from the IPSA Congress and thereafter developed a book proposal, “Centralising and Decentralising Trends in Federal States” (University press of America, 1988) [IBSN: 9780819168955]. Frank was not only a contributor but he was second reader for several papers especially those pertaining to Europe.
The book eventually appeared after the late Dan Elazar and I met for the first time over lunch in Detroit Michigan in 1983. Dan, as many will recall, directed the Centre for the Study of Federalism at Temple University and was editor of Publius.
Until his tragic and unfortunate death in 1999, Elazar was a great supporter and participant in the Comparative Federalism. He was also a great friend and a source of constant wit and wisdom. Eventually we worked out arrangements whereby the Study Group worked within the Elazar federalism empire!
Between the Study Group’s founding in 1982 and the IPSA World Congress in Paris in 1985, the first annual conference of the Study Group was convened in Murten, Switzerland (1983). Frank Delmartino was co-chair.
By 1984 it was clear that the Study Group was attracting a wide range of scholars and Frank and I then developed a proposal to IPSA that the Study Group be upgraded to a Research Committee in time for the 1985 Paris IPSA Congress. We organised three panels for that Congress with Panels chaired by Dan Elazar, Frank Delmartino and myself (LBJ).
Also in 1985 I settled into a sabbatical in Luxembourg and thus Frank and I were able to work more closely as my sabbatical also included a visiting professorship at KU Leuven.
From 1985 onward Frank’s astute mind and enthusiasm propelled the new IPSA Research Committee into several new endeavours including our tradition of an Annual Conference.
Over the years he was a constant source of ideas, critical comment and intellectual stamina. Between us we organised annual meetings including a famous meeting in Brugge from which emerged the book Federal-type Solutions and European Integration (University Press of America, 1995) [ISBN: # 9780819195494]. Frank Delmartino reviewed every essay in that collection prior to publication and he asked for no credit. He was n often modest colleague who worked hard on everything he undertook while simultaneously preferring a behind-the-scenes role.
In the years that followed I was able to spend time in Leuven on several occasions where Frank and I worked on aspects of the developing European idea as well as our enormous efforts on Belgium’s complex federalising process through an interesting interest organisation known as the Coudenberg Group.
It was in those years that I was a guest at the Delmartino’s home in Leuven for a lovely dinner. It was also during this period that, unable to join us, Frank assigned his oldest son Dirk to guide me through some of the wonderful beers available in Belgium. Dirk the student and I the Prof had a great evening of sampling many fine beers. I later years Dirk Delmartino joined my course in Comparative Federalism at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. The course was part of the Erasmus programme.
During another sabbatical in 1993 and after the Comparative Federalism Research Committee was involved in a project focussed upon South Africa’s emerging new constitution at the Kwa Maritane. Conference Centre in South Africa (1993) upon return to Europe prior to a 11 month round the world lecture tour, the Delmartino family offered my wife and I use of their summer cottage in the Ardennes.
We left Frank and family a small legacy for across the road was a herd of dairy cattle. Over two weeks my wife and I managed to give each cow a name. Thereafter we left a list cow descriptions, names and a challenge for Frank and his three sons to place the correct names on the appropriate cows. This had nothing to do with federalism–although the herd concept did suggest a theme–but it was great fun.
Frank Delmartino was serious and studious as needed. But there was also his lighter side and over the years many wonderful hours were spent debating Europe’s future–that was eventually his passion and the entire concept of federal and similar relationship concepts.
His personal contribution to development of the IPSA Comparative Federalism Research Committee was both enormous and highly valued. Without his wisdom and support it would have been a much more difficult task. I will always remember him as friend, colleague and exceptional quiet advisor.
Dr. C. Lloyd Brown-John, Founding Chair, IPSA Comparative Federalism Research Committee.
Lloyd is currently Professor Emeritus (University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada) and, most recently, the founder and Director of Canterbury ElderCollege.