Benefits And Disadvantages Of Federalism

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Federalism deals with the idea of separation of power between the national (central) government and the government of individual states. Federalism explains and elaborates on the relationship between the national and states government, and other interstate relations. Like any other form of government, federalism also has pros and cons.

Benefits of federalism:

In federalism, a country can experience “multinational democracies” and also allies with “large population, extensive territories and democracies with territorially based on linguistic fragmentation”. According to Stepan, India, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and the United States are considered as the federal states (20). Federalism helps to encounter the problems that emerged from “ethic and linguistic diversity” (Stepan, 20). Many sovereign polities give up their supreme power in order to achieve communal security and other goals including economic ones through federalism, and this type of federalism is called “coming-together” federalism. Federalism also protects human rights from the central government, which has a bicameral legislature. Moreover, Federalism also helps to unite the states having different cultures, history, and political logic, and this type of federalism is called Holding-together federalism. For example, India is a land of different cultures with several small political systems and in order to maintain harmony in India, B.R. Ambedkar drafts the Indian constitution by devolving power constitutionally, making India a federal country. In countries like the USA, federalism has helped in protecting property rights as well as fiscal prudence. In federalism, the central government cannot restrict the power of the subnational government. Furthermore, federalism helps in promoting the economic development of a country such as it helps in bringing decision-making closer to the native people, giving importance to the citizens’ preferences. Lastly, federalism also helps citizens to measure their local government by looking at the rights allocated to its neighbor state.

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Disadvantages of federalism

As every coin has two sides, so does federalism. According to Stephen, federalism distributes states’ policies in unfair ways which somehow leads to inequalities between the states. Federalism leads to disputes in the jurisdiction. The other drawback of federalism, the nature of the political party determines the federal system which depends on variables, first, overrepresentation in the territorial chamber, where a less populated state gets the higher demos-constraining which means a state with lower populations would consider as the dominant. For example, Wyoming and California, United States had a population of 45300 and 30 million respectively but still, one vote of Wyoming is worth 66 times of California. Secondly, policy scope of the territorial chamber, where the power of decision making is allocated to the territorial house depends on their “competencies” or their outcomes, for example in the united states the lower house(federal) initiates budget which signifies that it set limits on how much states can borrow for the welfare. Third, federalism differs between the powers given to the “demos” versus power lawfully given to states. For example, in Brazil state and municipal pensions, state banks, and tax policy are decided by the supermajority. Another drawback of federalism is that it arise the smell of doubt in the public sphere on governments. People start comparing their local government with the other territorial government and followed by a feeling of disbelief and lack of trust in government.

As the overall analysis from the above paragraph stated that federalism has some advantages and disadvantages too. Firstly we will discuss the difference between the federal and unitary governments. In the federal type of government, two authorities govern the country respectively whereas, in the unitary type of government, a single authority considers as the supreme power of the country This will conclude that among the two governments which government is more appropriate for the stable democracy and the development of the states economically. When we start defining the federal system, firstly it enforces the decisions made by the politicians that even worsen the collective decisions for the state (495). Secondly, even though federalism has secured political rights in some countries like the USA but in some countries like Argentina and Russia, they experienced unbalanced political rights(495). Thirdly it protects the independence of the state’s governments by minimizing the central authority decreases the chances of taking the decisions collectively for making some decisions on the economic development(500). Fourthly, most of the conclusions relating to inflation rates and fiscal policy were made after considering countries like USA and Switzerland in which federalism is running successfully but countries like Brazil, Russia and Argentina are facing the inflation rates problem as well unmanageable fiscal policies (499). Moreover, there are many subnational countries with decentralized government or federal government that is facing the problems of the debt crisis as compared to the countries that have unitary government. For example in developing countries like Brazil having federal governments are currently facing the problem of unmanageable fiscal and monetary policies (500). For further proving, there are some empirical proofs that can claim that the federal system of government has been currently unsuccessful firstly the subnational government are nearly accountable for half of the government spending (500). Secondly, the provincial politicians without proper incentives for making the federal decisions usually come to the point where they spend beyond their limits and are left with no other options they expect the central government to feel pity for them by exempting them from their overdue loans. This condition of negative revenue shock leads the states to face the problem of inflation which even burdens the fiscal policies of the central government. Moreover, in the federal system the division of power and responsibility, reduces the ability of voters to keep a check on the government on policy performance (new). Additionally, Federalism also promotes the sense of self-rule along with shared rule, which sometimes affects the equal rights of the country. Federalism arises from competition among different types of government in order to gain support from citizens or to attract more voters. To support, some countries like Brazil and India, through federalism, the government shows an increment in the social policies such as revenue in order to get credit for anti-poverty agendas. Federalism also affects the ability of the states in raising the revenues to “finance social expenditure”. Through federalism, the majority poorer make national and class-based demands which are different from superior class people so this leads to the decentralization in inter-government relations. The inter-governmental completion and degree of nationalism are the factors that affect democracy.

To conclude, the idea of federalism came from the United Nations which only deals with the coordination of two different governments. This concept deals with mutual understanding between the various levels of the organization. The plant of federalism can emerge from a non-democratic country where there is diversity in language, culture, and national identities. Indeed, there is mutual cooperation between governments, the federal government has to show equity to the states. Therefore the division or distributes of power becomes the reason for the conflict.


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