Advantages and Disadvantages of Federal System of Government: Federalism is one of the most popular and practiced systems of government in the world. It is a system of government that is based on democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national government and its component units. Even till today, the United States of America (USA) still practice federalism. This shows that the system has many advantages.
It should also be noted that federalism is not without its own disadvantages. Like it is always said, anything that has advantages equally has disadvantages as well. So, in this article we will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of a federal system of government.
Meanwhile, if you have you have not read my article on the merits and demerits of unitary system of government, I enjoin you to do that first. In that article, i compare the advantages and disadvantages both a unitary and federal system of government.
Also read: Major Pillars of democracy
What is federalism?
Put in a simple way, federalism is a system of government in which powers are shared between the federal or central government and its component units. Federalism can also be defined a an association of free states, where powers and functions are shared between the units of the government.
According to Britanicca, the federal between the federal government and its component units must be established or confirmed by a written constitution which is Supreme. A federal system of government can not be practiced with an unwritten constitution because an unwritten constitution is not contained in one particular document.
Advantages of Federal System of Government
Below are the merits or advantages of a federal government system:
1. Federalism brings about peaceful political association of multi-ethnic groups:
In a heterogeneous society or a multi-ethnic nation, federalism is the best system of government to practice because it brings about a peaceful political association between people of different tribes, languages and beliefs. This is so because there is a national government at the center and other smaller units of the government at the local level to govern the people.
However, in a unitary system of government where powers are only concentrated in the hands of a central government, the fear of the majority can lead to crisis. For this reason, a federal system of government is the best system of government for a multi-ethnic country.
2. Federalism produces a stronger and stable nation:
Another advantage of federalism is the fact that it produces a stronger and stable government in power. This is so because the association of different component units will make the government stronger and respected by international organizations.
Based on this, political scientists are of the view that prancing a federal system of government brings about a stronger stable government.
3. There is no fear of majority:
In a federal system of government there is usually no fear of the majority because every unit of the government is partially independent, and can decide to run its own affairs by itself.
Conversely, there is not possible way for the majority to totally rule over the minority in the country. Meanwhile, this is possible in a unitary system of government since all the government powers of the state are concentrated in the hands of the central government.
4. Equitable development and growth of the nation:
One of the major reasons why many countries (including the United States of America), practice federalism is because the system fosters equitable growth and development in every part of the nation.
Every unit of government is expected to develop its territory and together, the growth and development of the whole nation will be achieved easily.
5. Rapid and effective government:
Unlike a unitary system where the burden of caring for the whole nation is carried by a single central government, federal system of government is different.
In a federal system of government, the functions and powers of the central government and its component units are clearly shared and stipulated in the constitution. Thus, the central government will not be faced with too many works. This actually makes the government more effective and efficient.
Now that you have understood what federalism is, I will take my time to highlight some of the reasons why federalism has not yet been adopted many countries.
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Disadvantages of federal system of government
Below are the demerits or disadvantages of a federal system of government:
1. It is expensive to operate:
Apparently, federalism is an expensive system of government because a lot of money is needed to maintain the central government and all of its component units. Workers and officials of every level of government must be paid and maintained by the nation.
This is a big disadvantage of federalism because many nations can not afford to main a government with different component units.
2. Federalism usually have a rigid constitution:
A rigid constitution is a constitution that is not easily amended. This type of constitution is actually the best in a federal system of government.
However, the fact that is can not be easily amended even in time of emergency is a disadvantage. Depending on the provisions of the constitution, to amend a rigid constitution, there must be so many consultation and unnecessary requirements.
In light of the above, a unitary system of government is deemed by some scholars to be better than federalism.
Also read: Essential Features of democracy
3.Duplicate of government:
Some political scientists have argued that a federal system of government is not actually advantageous because it brings about an unnecessary duplication of the government which is also true.
By creating a national government and component units of government, it can lead to instability and power struggle in the nation even when those powers have been prescribed in the law of the country.
4. The federal government will become weaker:
Lastly, a federal system of government is disadvantageous because it produces a weaker federal or central government and a stronger component unit.
In light of this, the federal government may not be able to control its component units of government and that can lead to political crisis or even disintegration. An example of a country were this can be seen is Nigeria.
Also read: Major pillars of a democratic government
From the above, it is apparent that a federal system of government is not without its own loopholes. Conversely, political scientists are of the view that, except where it is a heterogeneous state, federal system of government should not be practiced.
A critical look at the advantages and disadvantages of a federal system of government above also shows that federalism will be a mess if practiced in a homogeneous society. Only heterogeneous states can practice federalism.
Hope you understand the information shared in this page? I would like to hear from you anyway. Tell me what you what you really think about federalism using the comment section below.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ChMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.