Features of Unitary Government

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Features of Unitary Government |Unitarian System of Government

Unitary System of Government | Definition | Features | Pros & Cons
System of Government

Unitary Government or Unitarian system of government involves centralization of political power in a single authority but notwithstanding, such political power of government may as well be transferred to lower levels regionally or locally elected assemblies, governors and mayors, but the central government retains the principal right to recall such delegated power.

Unitarianism system of government can be described as:

“...a single integrated system of government for the exercise of all powers. The legal sovereign confers all the powers of government in the first instance upon a single central government.

The central government may exercise all these powers by itself or create political subdivisions and delegate to them such powers as it may deem wise to delegate. The central government is competent to change their boundaries as well as power at its pleasure, by ordinary legislative enactment”.

The characteristics of a unitary government include the following:

  • There is only one source of political authority and that is the central government. The constitution recognizes only one government and any other level of government owes its legal existence to the central government.
  • It is a highly centralized system of government and the degree of autonomy granted to subordinate governments varies from country to country. For example, the local government authorities in Britain enjoy much local autonomy while those in France are subject to tight control by the central government.
  • Power may be delegated to public institutions like local governments and public corporations.
  • Government departments or ministries are centralized. For example, Ghana has only one Ministry of Education although the country has ten regional governments.
  • Normally, the central government alone performs all legislative, executive and judicial functions.
  • The constitution gives the central legislature power to make laws for the whole country and on all matters.
  • The constitution may be written or unwritten. For example while the constitution of the Netherlands is written, that of Britain is unwritten yet both are unitary states.

Features of a Unitary State

  • Best practised in a homogenous state: Unitary is best practised where there are no sharp differences in religion, language, political beliefeic of the entire population.
  • Delegation of functions: The central government can delegate power and functions to other component units.
  • Relatively Small country: The system is easy and best to practise in a relatively smallcountry where the government has representatives from every ethnic group in the society.
  • Parliamentary supremacy: There is parliamentary supremacy in unitary state. Britain is a good example.
  • Flexibilily: The constitution of a unitary state is not rigid but flexible.
  • Power to modify the constitution: The central government may have power to modify the constitution in me same process used to pass laws. Britain adopts this method.
  • No constitutiunal division of power: There is no such division powers between the central government and other component units.
  • Source of power: The central government still remains the only source through which power flows to other areas.
  • Power concentration: All the powers and authorities of the state are concentrated in the hands of the central government.
  • No conflict of authority: Since the central government has all the powers, conflict of authority would not arise.
  • Strong central government: Power rests on the central government.
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