Differences Between Unitary Government and Federal System of Government
Unitary system of government may be described as a government organized under a single central government. A Federal system of government is one in which sovereignty is not confined exclusively to either the central government or the component units, but rather, is divided between them.
Difference Between Federalism and Unitarianism Form of Government
|Federal Government||Unitary Government|
|Federal System Decentralization of political power between central and state governments.||Unitary System Centralization of power and no regional government exercises power on its own.|
|Existence of written and rigid constitution.||Constitution is usually unwritten and flexible.|
|Jurisdictional conflicts between the two levels of government is settled by the court.||Jurisdictional conflicts are absent because it is only the central government that enjoys political power.|
|Equality of status between the central and state governments: they make their policies independent of each other.||Constitution is usually unwritten and flexible.|
|Existence of central and regional or state legislatures.||Regional governments are subordinates to central government.|
|Separate systems of law by the two levels of government.||Laws are basically made by the central legislature. Uniform svstem of law.|
Unitarian Government | Unitarianism
Unitary system of government may be described as a government organized under a single central government. It is the government in which power is given to a single authority and not shared and the central government is supreme.
Where power is vested in one authority, power may be delegated to any subordinate institution such as the local government authorities.
In a unitary system of government, all power and authority for the exercise of the functions of a state are concentrated in the hands of the central government. Thus, in a unitary state, there is only one sovereign or supreme authority. The ultimate decision as to the pattern of relations between the central government and the components units is vested exclusively in the central government.
The unitary system of government is usually operated by countries with relatively small size, homogeneous population, common historical background, custom, tradition and the same level of economic development.
Examples of states operating the unitary system of government include Britain, France, Ghana, New Zealand, Liberia and the Gambia.
Federal Government | Federalism
A federal system of government is one in which sovereignty is not confined exclusively to either the central government or the component units, but rather, is divided between them.
The federal system of government is usually operated by states having diversities of race, language, religion and geography. A glance at the sizes of many countries which operate a federal system of government today shows that they are bigger than those adopting other systems.
The characteristics of federal states include supremacy of the constitution, supremacy of the central government in cases of conflict, possession of a written constitution, bicameral legislature and the existence of a supreme court which is capable of interpreting the constitution and settling disputes between the federal government and the component units.
The federal system of government is being operated by countries such as the United States, the Soviet Union, Australia, India and Nigeria.
Unitary System in Federal State – How Possible is That?
It is often presumed that it is only in political systems where there is no constitutional sharing of political power between the central government and other component units of the state, that we have unitary system of government.
Nonetheless, it is more interesting to note that many of these states that operate within unitary government framework are federalist state. The fact is that many federalist states have strong central government, and usually experience predatory relationship between the central political authority and state or regional governments.
We are all aware that in political systems like most federal state, central government arrogates to itself too much power, even beyond what power accorded to her in the constitution. States and regional governments are often unitary because most power of the local government is delegated to the latter by the former (state / regional governments).
The laws coming from the regional or state assembly override the legislative enactment of the local government. Also, the local council authority can have its power diminished, increased or withdrawn by the state or regional government especially through legislative enactment.
Therefore, the state or regional legislature can dissolve the executive council of the local government or may even allow the state government to take over local government administration.