Federal System Of Government: Meaning, Features, Reasons, Merits And Demerits

Table Of Contents

1. Meaning Of Federal System Of Government
2. Reasons For Adopting A Federal System Of Government
3. Features Of A Federal System Of Government
4. Advantages Of Federal System
5. Disadvantages Of Federal System

Meaning Of Federal System Of Government

Federal system of government is a political system where political power and authority are shared between the central government and the component states or regions into which is divided. It is a system of government in which authority is shared between the centre and component units. In a federal system of government, the federal authority represent the whole and cut behalf of all in certain matters and areas considered to be of common interest. They also assists state region or local authorities with powers of legislation and administration within constitutional limits.

Countries that practise federal system of government include U.S.A, USSR, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, West Germany, India, Switzerland, Brazil etc.

Reasons For Adopting A Federal System Of Government

1. The existence of tribal differences such as diversities in culture, religion, language, custom and tradition give room for federal system of government.

2. The fear of domination of one ethnic group by the other is an important factor given rise for federal system. (Protection of the interest of the minority groups).

3. The size of a given country i.e large and diverse geographical areas are considered reason for federal system of government.

4. Security: Some countries adopt a federal system in order to have military might or power to face a common external enemy.

5. Rapid and even development of a nation.

6. The possibility of bringing the government nearer to the people compel states to adopt federal system.

7. Easy and effective administration of states call for federalism. Division of powers into states and region or organs as in separation of powers makes federal system a possibility.

8. The need to put resources together to form a stronger economy can necessitate federal system.

Main Features Of A Federal System Of Government

1. The Constitution Is Supreme: Thus, it is not easy to change or alter powers of any level.

2. There is division of powers between the states, regions and the central government.

3. Power of each level of government are constitutionally derived.

4. It makes use of a written constitution which is rigid. This helps to bring stability in the system.

5. Federal system of government make uses of a bicameral legislative. This implies two legislative chamber at the federal level.

6. The Existence Of A Supreme Court: The supreme court reviews and acts as a funnel arbiter in matters of constitutional conflict.

7. The constitution does not guarantee succession of any region in the federal state.

8. Duplications of organs of government at all levels og government is another characteristics.

9. Governmental functions are constitutionally shared into exclusive for the central government, residual for states and regions while concurrent is shared between the centre and the state.

1:. The constitution makes provision for a prescribed method of amending it because of it’s rigid nature.

Advantages Of A Federal System Of Government

1. Federal system helps to remove fear of domination by one ethnic group or another.

2. It helps to prevent the emergence of a dictator.

3. Federalism brings about fast development due to competition among states, regions etc.

4. A federal system of government guarantee the fundamental rights of people under democratic structure.

5. Division of functions has made it possible for matters of local interest to be allocated to the state or local government.

6. The burden of the central government is reduced because functions are divided.

7. Employment opportunities are created for more people to be employed in the system.

8. There is room for wider consultation before decision are taken and implemented.

9. It encourages healthy competition among component state or regions.

10. A lot of people are given the opportunity to participate in government thus bring government nearer to the people.

Disadvantages Or Problems Of Federal System

1. Co-ordination of various states, regions and units due to power division makes federal system problematic.

2. Federal system of government is very expensive to run.

3. It brings about inter-state frictions due to conflicts over geographical boundaries.

4. Federalism delay decision taken and implementation due to difficult in constitutional amendments.

5. It breeds sectional consciousness, ethnic loyalty rather than natural.

6. Federal system of government encourages disunity among ethnic groups. Emphasis is placed on area of origin.

7. Unhealthy rivalry and competition consume time, energy and resources in cause of settlement.

8. Resource allocation and sharing often bring about problems.

Powers Sharing In A Federal System

In a federal system, power sharing is classified into three:

1. Exclusive Power Or List

Exclusive powers are those functions or powers of government reserved for the central government only. Such powers include: Defence, Foreign affairs, Currency, International passport, International trade, Immigration and Emigration etc.

2. The Concurrent Powers

Political functions under this group are constitutionally shared between the states and central government. However, if there is any conflict arising from the execution, the central government prevails over the state or regions. Such powers include: Health, Education Agriculture, Road Construction and Maintenance, Housing etc.

3. The Residual Powers

Constitutional powers under this list are reserved for the state or regions. They are Chieftaincy, Matters, Local government matters, Market construction and Maintenance. In a federal system of government, resources, amenities, appointment and location of structures are shared based on quota system to maintain balance among the state, regions or local government in the country. This idea is known as Federal Character.

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