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Federalism Concept and Basic understanding - CLASS XIth Political Science Constituiton at work Chapter 7

Pushpendra Sharma
15/12/2016 0 0

Federalism

Federalism is a principle of the government or an institutional mechanism that defines the relationship between the central and regional government. In federal systems, both sets of polities work cooperatively and independently in their respective domains. Federalism is like a rainbow, where each colour is separate, yet together they make a harmonious pattern.

On the basis of the relationship between national and regional governments, polities can be of two types:

1.       Unitary Government.

2.       Federal government.

Unitary government: In the unitary form of the governments all powers are vested in the national government. Either there is no regional government in such system, or if it exists at all, it drives its power from the central government e.g. Britain, France, Japan, former USSR, China, and Pakistan etc.

Benefit of the unitary form of the government:

1.   It inspires uniformity among the state in the nation, as well as patriotism because everyone has a major thing in common like common laws and single national identity.

2.   Responsibilities and powers of the government tend to be clear cut. Such clear division of the powers led to swift action in the time of crisis. Apart from this, it fixes the accountability of the power center.

3.   Doing the business in single integrated economies is relatively easier due to the single market and same laws and taxation.

4.  In this form of government, there is no duplication of any types of service like central and state services. This saves the taxpayers money and less ‘executive made regulations’ ensures more liberty to the individuals.

Drawbacks of the unitary Governments:

1. Excessive centralisation of the power increases the dictatorship tendency in the government. The governmentis more likely to fall out of touch with local issues. Excessive concentration of the power was the main reason for the breakup of USSR and Pakistan.

2.   Diversity is not represented politically in unitary systems. All local sense of security, community, and pride are lost. No one is allowed to go against the government.

3.     Unitary systems are usually found less responsive for the local issues.

Federal form of the government: In a federal form of the governments, powers are divided between national government and regional governments usually by the constitution or written treaty. Subjects, which concern the nation as whole, for example, defence and currency, are the responsibility of the central government. Regional matters are the responsibility of the state or provincial governments.   Both operates in their respective jurisdictions independently but expected to work in tandem. Example: USA, INDIA, CANADA, RUSSIA and BRAZIL etc.

Advantages of federal from of the government:
It is hard to generalise the benefit and drawbacks of political system because benefits and drawbacks of federalism are dependent upon the nature of the federal system and the practice of federalism in a polity. Real politics, culture, ideology, and history determine the actual working of the federation.  A culture of trust, cooperation, and mutual respect helps federation to work smoothly. For example, federalism is highly successful in the countries like India, USA, Canada but it is not that successful in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Libya etc. Following are the widely accepted benefits of federalism.

1.    Federalism proved successful in protecting the citizens against state tyranny. This is because different power centres act as a check and balance on each other.

2.   Diversity found better political representation in a federal polity.

3.   It provides more room to citizen’s participation.

4.    Innovation in Law and Policy is Encouraged – By allowing for many state governments, different sets of policies can be tried, and the ones found most effective at solving its problems can then be implemented in other states or on the national level.

5.     Federalism enhances the efficiency of the government by finding localised solutions for local problems.

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