Federalism

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Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant (Latin: foedus, covenant) with a common, governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of governance in which:

  • a number of sovereign entities, through a common (federal) constitution, delegate to a general government the authority to exercise some of their Powers on their behalf for their common or shared benefit (bottom-up federalism);—Or
  • a central government, through a constitution, divests from itself competence on a number of Powers to the constituent regions (top-down federalism).

Federalism can be defined as, "a form of territorial political organization in which unity and regional diversity are accommodated within a single political system by distributing power among general and regional governments in a manner constitutionally safeguarding the existence and authority of each."[1]

Federalism provides an otherwise united or homogeneous community the opportunity for some amount of internal political, economic, legal, cultural, moral, and other diversity and internal independence from the community at-large. Federalism is deeply rooted in democratic ideals, and only in democratic communities is federalism able to not only operate (and operate properly) but also thrive.

Types of Federal bodies politic and corporate[edit]

Federalism is a constitutional system inherently based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is divided between general (federal) and regional governments, creating what is called a "Federal body politic and corporate": There are three forms of this polity; that is to say:

  • Confederation – an alliance or coalition of sovereign and independent States for common approach(es) on specific Matter(s) of joint-concern to all confederating units (the member States). In a confederation, the general (federal) head is not sovereign, does not possess legal personality at international or domestic level, is subservient to the confederating units), and does not have any enforcement power over the confederating units or the inhabitants thereof;
  • Fœderation – also spelled "föderation", "føderation", or "foederation"; a union of sovereign and independent States created for common approach(es) and/or polic(ies) on certain, specific Matters. The member States retain complete, absolute, independent, and sovereign competence over all Matters not expressly delegated to the general (federal) head; while actions, laws, and policies of the federal head that are made in strict pursuance of the federal Constitution generally supercede, pre-empt, and displace most conflicting actions, laws, and policies of the member States (generally, the member State constitutions are superior to actions, laws, and policies of the federal head, and equal to the federal Constitution; that is to say: in and for each State, the Constitution thereof, together with the federal constitution, constitute the supreme law of that State, with all other forms of law or other legal instrument being of inferior status): And, while the member States are legal persons at the international and domestic levels, so is the federal head, but secondary to that of the member States; however, in a Fœderation, only the member States and not the federal head are considered to possess sovereignty;—And
  • Federation – a union of constituent States created for a single, united approach, policy, and/or position on a select number of Matters. Unlike fœderations, the general (federal) head in a federation, while acting solely within its remit, is superior vis-á-vis the member States; that is to say: So long as the actions, laws, and policies of the federal head are strictly confined to its express grant of competence, such actions, laws, and policies supercede, pre-empt, and displace all conflicting actions, laws, and policies of the member States, including State constitutions. Unlike fœderations, but in a federation, the member States generally cannot unilaterally withdraw (secede) from the federation: Some federations allow a member State to secede from the union with the consent of the member States (either unanimous, some form of majority, or consensus; varies by federation), while other federations permit a member State to secede only with the consent of the federal head; other federations require some form of popular consent, either of the people of the member State wishing to secede or the people of the entire federation (e.g., the people of all member States); and, finally, some require a combination of the previous four methods for a member State to depart the federation (e.g., consent of the member States and/or the federal head and/or the people of the affected member State and/or the people of the whole federation).

Only in confederations and fœderations is membership voluntary: member States of confederations and fœderations may choose to secede therefrom at any time and for any reason, notwithstanding the consent or approval (or lack thereof) of the remaining member States; or the inhabitants of any of them except the departing State; or the federal head.

Confederation[edit]

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Examples[edit]

Fœderation (supranational federal union)[edit]

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Federation (consolidated federal union)[edit]

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Examples[edit]

Federalism in non-Federal bodies politic[edit]

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Regional state[edit]

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Examples[edit]

Types of federalism[edit]

Legislative federalism[edit]

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Executive federalism[edit]

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Administrative federalism[edit]

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Judicial federalism[edit]

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Fiscal federalism[edit]

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See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions