In political science , federalism is called a mode of political organization that consists of the unification of independent political entities in the same government system , allowing them to preserve a certain autonomy , while making them adopt certain types of regulations, laws or common policies, in force in all federated entities.
In other words, federalism is the political doctrine through which different States or nations are grouped into one, whose common laws apply to all, since the sovereignty of the whole is granted. At the same time it allows the federated states to have their own laws and a significant margin of autonomy . The States formed in this way are known as federative States or federative Nations.
As a system of government, federalism proposes the negotiation between local powers and the decentralized management of the State , through the coexistence of two types of powers: the local or regional powers of each federated body, and the general or federal powers that govern to the set. This division covers all branches of public power : executive , legislative and judicial .
Federation should not be confused with confederation. This last case is about a particular type of federation in which a central power even more limited than the federal power is erected, so that the confederate States can participate to the extent they wish in common decisions, or they can choose not to do so. That is, a confederation is a grouping of independent countries, which can separate at will .
Characteristics of federalism
Federalism is broadly characterized by the following:
- It establishes a centralized power (federal power) whose powers are very well delimited in a federal constitution, respecting the limits in which local power begins , so that a joint federal order and an individual local order coexist.
- A federated nation is divided geographically and administratively into its member states , and power is exercised in a decentralized manner in each one of them, despite the fact that there is still a capital of the nation and a central power in charge of the joint management of the system.
- The federal constitution is interpreted by a Supreme Court of Justice, also of federal authority , in order to deal effectively with the rigidity of the written constitutional text.
- The federated states cannot be separated at will at any time, as in a confederation, but through a complex legal and political process.
Federal States or federative States are called those countries that are administered with federative regimes, as its name indicates. These types of countries are very common in the contemporary world, especially among the nations of the so-called First World. The following are examples of federative countries:
- The Russian Federation.
- The Helvetic Confederation (Switzerland).
- The Federative Republic of Brazil.
- The Argentine Republic.
- The German Republic.
- The Republic of Austria.
- The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma).
- The United States of America.
- The Republic of India.
- The United Mexican States.
- The European Union.
Federalism and centralism
Centralism is a system totally contrary to the federativist, in the sense that it bets on the concentration of power in a single, general, central and total authority , which governs the entire nation. Centralized power only admits partial autonomies, subject to the main power, like the provinces of a country whose public powers are unique, although they usually have local or provincial headquarters.
The most extreme case of centralism is constituted, for example, by monarchies and empires , in which power resides almost exclusively in the will of the monarch.