Social Science


Meanings of Federalism

Federalism is the design of the trend of constitutional governance under which various states establish a union by an agreement. Under this, the compromising states become the units of the Union. Under federal governance, supreme power is divided between the central government and its units. Thus we can say that there are two-tier governments in the federal governance system. The central government governs all those subjects which are of national importance. Whereas state or provincial governments rule local subjects. Governments at both these levels of power, independent at their own level, perform their work. Federal governance is completely opposite to unitary governance because unitary governance has only one level of governance and the remaining units function under it.


Some of the salient features of the corporate governance system:

  1. There are two-tier governments in federal governance.
  2. Central and provincial governments have different jurisdictions.
  3. The jurisdictions of both governments are clearly stated in the constitution.
  4. To change the fundamental provisions of the constitution, the consent of both levels of government is required. No government can do this alone.
  5. The court can explain the rights of various levels of governments mentioned in the constitution. In the event of a dispute of rights between them, the Supreme Court plays the role of adjudicator.
  6. The basic objective of governance is to maintain the unity, integrity, and security of the country while fully respecting regional diversities. For this, it is necessary that the rules of power-sharing between different level governments should be agreed upon.

 Measures for the formation of federal governance

The following are mainly two measures for the formation of federal governance:

1. By joining Two or More Nations Together

Under this, two or more independent nations are organized as a federal system while maintaining their sovereignty and identity. Thus they pave the way for strengthening their security as well as increasing prosperity and prosperity. The United States, Switzerland, Australia, etc. are prime examples of this type of federal governance. In countries with this type of federal governance, provinces often have equal rights and are more powerful than the center.


2. Establishment of Federal Governance in a Large Nation Divided into Several Provinces

Under this, large nations respect their regional diversity, dividing the nation into several provinces and again establishing a federal governance system by dividing power between the provinces and the central government. In this type of governance, the central government is more powerful than the provinces. Normally in this system also the provinces are given equal rights, but in some special situations sometimes some provinces are also given special rights. India, Spain, Belgium, etc. are prime examples of this type of federal governance.

Types of Federalism

The concept of federalism is divided into two parts – (1) cooperative federalism (2) competitive federalism (based on the relationship between the central and state government).

(1) Cooperative Federalism federalism

In cooperative federalism, the state and central governments establish a horizontal system of governance by establishing horizontal relations, that is, in this, both the central and state governments are superior to none but work independently in their respective jurisdictions.

Former RBI Governor D. Subbarao had said that given the way the country’s economic center is moving towards the states, it cannot be denied that India’s economic development is currently dependent on cooperative federalism.

(2) Competitive Federalism federalism

In a competitive federal polity, there is a horizontal relationship between the state governments while there is a vertical relationship between the provincial and the central government. In other words, in this, the provinces get equal rights while the center gets more rights from the provinces so that the provinces cannot oppose the central government. In competitive federalism, states have to compete with each other and the center for the purpose of profit.

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