In a unitary government, the power is held by one central authority but in a federal government, the power is divided between national government or federal government and local governments or states government.
Federal government has multiple hierarchy levels, with both the central authority and the states (or provinces) both being sovereign. Furthermore, the central or national rules override the state rules. It also has balance between them for example the United State. It is shared between national and local levels. In a federal form of government, the term “federal” is also used to refer to the national level of government.
However, for unitary government there is no hierarchy of sovereign powers. It is a state which has no authority to make their own laws and the government can only order the states to do anything. For example is Japan. Japan is a federal government which has a huge percentage of power.
The advantages and disadvantages of Unitary Government
The advantages of unitary government are it is single and decisive legislative. It has a simple management of an economy and the government is smaller. It is uniformity of policies, laws, enforcement and administration of laws, government and others. It’s also less duplication of services and a fewer conflicts between national and local government will occur.
The disadvantages of using this type of system are it has slow government response. For example, there is no state National Guard that could be dispatched in emergency, troops would have to be mobilized from national authority. It is also easily looses track of local issues. Other than that, it is incredibly disruptive form of government where everyone is forced to compete with everyone else for priority. Since it is trying to take the place of federal and state governments, the unitary governments typical get distended and bogged down. Finally, it has huge system of government that is even larger than what this country has.
The Advantages and the disadvantages of Federalism
Every province has political, social and economic problems unusual to the region itself. Provincial government representatives live in close immediacy to the people and are most of the times from the same group of people so that they are in a better situation to understand these problems and offer distinctive solutions for them. For example, traffic jam in Oahu, Hawaii is a problem that can be best solved by the local government, keeping general factors in mind, rather than by somebody living in New York.
Federalism offers depiction to different populations. Citizens of a range of provinces may have different aspirations, ethnicity and follow different cultures. The central government can sometimes fail to notice these differences and assume policies which cater to the majority. This is where the regional government steps in. While formulating policies, local needs, tastes and opinions are given due consideration by the state governments. Rights of the minorities are protected too. For example, in states like Arizona where there is a large Hispanic population and therefore, a large number of schools provide bilingual education.
State governments have the freedom to adopt policies which may not be followed nationally or by any other state. For example, same sex marriages are not recognized by the federal government of USA but they are given legal status within the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Division of work between the central and the regional governments leads to optimum exploitation of resources. The central government can concentrate more on global affairs and defense of the country while the provincial government can provide to the local needs.
Federalism has room for improvement and testing. Two local governments can have two different approaches to bring reforms in any area of public area, be it taxes or education. The comparison of the results of these policies can give a clear suggestion of which policy is better and thus, can be adopted in the upcoming.
Sharing of power between the Center and the states includes both advantages and disadvantages of federation. Sometimes there can be overlap of work and a following misunderstanding regarding who is responsible for what. For example, when typhoon Katrina hit Greater New Orleans, USA, in 2005, there was interruption in the salvage work as there was confusion between the state governments and the federal government on who is responsible for which disaster management work. This resulted in the loss of many lives.
The federal system of government is very expensive as more people are chosen to office, both at the state and the center, than necessary. Thus, it is often said that only wealthy countries can afford it. Too many chosen representatives with overlapping roles may also lead to corruption.
Other than that, it leads to unnecessary rivalry between different regions. There can be a rising by a regional government against the national government too. Both scenarios pose a threat to the countries’ reliability.
It is also promotes regional inequalities. Natural resources, industries, employment opportunities differ from region to region. Hence earnings and wealth are unevenly circulated Rich states offer more opportunities and benefits to its citizens than poor states can. Thus, the gap between rich and poor states widens.
It also can make the state governments selfish and concerned only about their own region’s progress. They can formulate policies which might be harmful to other regions. For example, pollution from a province which is promoting industrialization in a big way can affect another region which depends exclusively on agriculture and cause crop damage.
Finally, it does not eliminate poverty. Even in New York, there are poor neighborhoods like Harlem with a majority of black population. The reason for this may be that during policy framing, it is the intellectuals and not the masses who are invited by the local government.