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The advantages and disadvantages of a federal system of Government

Berlin, Bundestag, Reichstag

Definition of a federal system of government
A federal system of government is a system in which the powers of government are constitutionally shared between the central government and regional units in such a way that each level of government is independent and autonomous. Countries with a federal system of government include the United States of America, Nigeria, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, and Germany.
Prevents dictatorship
Federation serves as a check on the emergence of dictatorship in a state. The component governments have some amount of powers and this enables them to prevent the federal government from becoming a dictator.

A common defense against external aggression
A federation enables the federating units to come together to defend themselves against external attack. A stand-alone nation is incapable of defending herself against other nations when she is attacked militarily.

It promotes local participation
A federation allows people at the local level to take part in the political process of their country. This is so because there is a government at the regional level which is closer to them than the central government and there they can participate in the political process closest to them.

Pooling of resources
A federation is economically advantageous because it allows the various federating units to pool their resources together for the development of the entire country. This would not have been possible is the country is standing alone.

Encourages rapid social and economic development
Federalism promotes rapid social and economic development in all the federating units. Resources are distributed by the federal government in a way that ensures equity in social and economic development.

Unites groups
One of the conditions for the adoption of a federation is the presence of diverse religious, ethnic and cultural differences. A federation, so established is able to bring together the people with these differences.

Federal Council, Policy, House Facade
The disparity in the level of development
Some component states in a federation tend to develop faster than others probably due to the fact that they have good administrators, more natural resources or maybe, more favoured by the central government in the allocation of resources.

Slows down the decision-making process
Federalism may slow down the decision making process because the two levels of government would have to agree on an issue, especially in matters that fall into the concurrent list and which would need the agreement of both the central and the state governments, before it can be implemented.

It may result in dual loyalty
Federalism leads to the creation of dual loyalty on the part of the citizens to the federal government and the state government.

Duplication of institution
The existence of state governments in federal states creates avenues for the setting up of the legislature, executive, judiciary and other institutions in all the federating states apart from those at the federal level. The duplication of such institutions leads to a waste of human and material resources.

The problem of co-existence
Most federal countries are faced with ethnic problems. These differences make it difficult for the diverse groups to co-exist, leading to bitterness among federating units.

Inter-state friction
One of the arguments against federalism is that it causes inter-state friction. This is as a result of differences in opinion among these component states into which the country is divided.

1. Explain six advantages of a federal system of government. [12 marks]

2. Highlight six disadvantages of a federal system of government. [12 marks]

3. Highlight three advantages and three disadvantages of a federal system of government. [12 marks]

4. a. What is a federal system of government? [2 marks]
    b. Highlight five advantages of a federal system of government. [10 marks]

5. a. Explain the exclusive functions of a federal system of government. [2 marks]
    b. Highlight five disadvantages of a federation. [10 marks]

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