Federalism: Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.
- Usually, a federation has two levels of government.
- One is the government for the entire country that is usually responsible for a few subjects of common national interest.
- The others are governments at the level of provinces or states that look after much of the day-to day administering of their state.
- Both these levels of governments enjoy their power independent of the other.
Key Features of Federalism:
- There are two or more levels (or tiers) of government.
- Different tiers of government govern the same citizens, but each tier has its own jurisdiction in specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration.
- The jurisdictions of the respective levels or tiers of government are specified in the constitution.
- So the existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.
- The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be unilaterally changed by one level of government.
- Such changes require the consent of both the levels of government.
- Courts have the power to interpret the constitution and the powers of different levels of government.
- The highest court acts as an umpire if disputes arise between different levels of government in the exercise of their respective powers.
- Sources of revenue for each level of government are clearly specified to ensure its financial autonomy.
- The federal system thus has dual objectives: to safeguard and promote unity of the country, while at the same time accommodate regional diversity.
Therefore, two aspects are crucial for the institutions and practice of federalism-
- Governments at different levels should agree to some rules of power sharing.
- They should also trust that each would abide by its part of the agreement.