Difference WikiPolitics

Difference Between Unitary Government and Federal Government

Main Difference

The main difference between unitary and federal government is that the central unitary government possess all the powers. Powers and authorities are centralized. Whereas in the central federal system government owns all the basic powers, but powers are further distributed to local governments of states and authorities and are decentralized in nature.

Unitary Government vs. Federal Government

The Unitary government of a nation is the supreme authority of the whole country with all the decision making powers. Whether the decisions are internal or external affairs, everything is centralized to the single government ruling the nation. No or very limited power is distributed further and that too in extreme scenarios. The Federal government of a nation possesses the main powers of decision making as a whole, but the powers are distributed down to the local governments as well for smooth running of the state and less involvement of the federal government. Distribution of power is to ensure responsiveness to issues and increasing efficiency of law enforcement.

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Comparison Chart

Unitary GovernmentFederal Government
In a Unitar government system, the central government is a unanimous supreme power of the country. A single government is responsible for all the internal and external affairs of the country from top to bottom.In a Federal government system, the central government is not only unanimous supreme power of the country, and the power is further divided into local level forming local state governments.
Decision Power
The Unitary government of a nation is the supreme authority of the whole country with all the decision making powers.The Federal government of a nation possesses the main powers of decision making as a whole, but the powers are distributed down to the local governments as well.
Election Procedure
The Central unitary government is elected by conducting general public voting, electors, elected parliamentarians, etc.The Central federal government is elected by conducting general public voting, electors, elected parliamentarians, etc.
Basic Roles
A unitary government is responsible for performing every single role internally or externally.A federal government is responsible for international roles more.
Distribution of Power
The central unitary government possesses all the powers. Powers and authorities are centralized.The central federal government possesses all the basic powers, whereas power is further distributed to local governments of states and authorities are decentralized.
Law Enforcement
A central unitary government is responsible for law enforcement in the whole nation.A central federal government is responsible for law enforcement in the whole nation along with the local government.
Policy
A central government is responsible for establishing all the national and international level policies of a country.A Federal government is responsible for establishing all the national and international level policies of a country along with the local government.
Ethnic Representation
No or less ethnic representation.More and equal representation.
Preference
The unitary government system is preferred to be in the countries which are small in geographical size.The federal government system is preferred to be in the countries that are larger in geographical size.
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What is Unitary Government?

In a Unitary government system, the central government is a unanimous supreme power of the country. A single government is responsible for all the internal and external affairs of the country from top to bottom, including security, economic plans, budget, laws, and policy — no division of power whatsoever. Election procedure of electing central unitary government differs from region to region and country to country and depends on the system of government-endorsed either republican, democratic, or even monarchy.

Generally, Central unitary government is elected by conducting general public voting. Unlike the federal government, the unitary government possesses all the powers and workload on its own. A unitary government is responsible for performing every single role internally or externally along with the development of laws and policies and implementing them at every level at the same time.

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A central unitary government is responsible for law enforcement in the whole nation. Law enforcement agencies and institutes are responsible for making sure the situation is stable. They deal with the national action plan along with a keen eye on the internal and external security of the nation. The unitary government system is preferred to be in the countries which are small in geographical size and are not that much huge in terms of international impact and resources. Countries with a monarchy government system are always unitary.

Advantages

Along with the development of law, the implementation responsibility is also in the hands of the unitary government. The most significant advantage of the unitary government system is that it is the only supreme authority. A single government takes all the decisions without any internal involvement. It is much easier to manage a country under a single government as it does not have any conflicts with other local bodies. No or very less duplication of laws, clarity of vision, simple approach, clear, authoritative policies, etc. Direct administration provides in-depth involvement of government.

Disadvantages

Unitary government possesses various disadvantages as no ethnic representation of states with ethnic diversity, the implementation of policies and law enforcement process is relatively quiet slow as the only single centralized government is dealing. It is very difficult sometimes to keep track of the grass-root level local issues and to respond to such queries may take a long time. Sometimes it may cause violations of fundamental human rights in terms of prioritizing a specific region of country or state. It is challenging to manage all the primary issues and conflicts, along with dealing with international affairs, policies, and security.

Examples

France, China, Japan, Iran, Hungary, Ireland, Greece, Oman, Spain, North Korea, South Korea

What is the Federal Government?

In a Federal government system, the central government is not only unanimous supreme power of the country, and the power is further divided into local level forming local state governments. A federal government is responsible for all the external affairs of the country including international security, economic plans, budget, laws, and policies whereas local governments make sure the implementations of the law at the grass-root level.

Local governments in the federal government system possess equal division of power and even in some country work unitarily, but they are under the supervision of the central government in general. A central federal government is responsible for law enforcement in the whole nation. Law enforcement agencies and institutes are responsible for making sure the situation is stable.

Local governments are bound to report to the central government. Local governments regulate local authorities and institutes to ensure the commencement of law in a particular province or state.

Advantages

The biggest advantages of federal government system are that the power is distributed, which enables the efficient response to issues happening internally and externally. Ethnic representation maintains a positive aura of unity among the states and the country as a whole. It is way much easier to tackle grass-root level issues as the local bodies’ government are present with authorities to take on time action.

The policies are made directly according to the needs of people living in different states that fulfill the difference in opinion among the public. Division of powers endorses the division of workload as well, which helps in efficient consumption of resources.

Disadvantages

The most significant disadvantage of a federal government system is duplication and overlapping of laws and policies. Due to this misunderstanding, often, the main focal goal is disturbed. Another significant disadvantage is the escaping from responsibilities, in unfavorable situations of law and order, local governments blame the central government for not providing resources and permission whereas the central government does the same and things get worse.

The biggest issue of all is the conflicts among the local body governments and the central government; it does not only disturb the whole country internally but has negative effects from the external world as well.

Examples

India, United States of America, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Argentina, Pakistan, Australia

Key Differences

  1. A unitary government is the only supreme authority, whereas the federal government is the main authority, whereas local governments are secondary authorities.
  2. No distribution of power takes place in the unitary government system, while the distribution of power to the local governments does occur in the federalism.
  3. The unitary governing system is slow and less responsive; on the other hand, the federal system is quick and responsive.
  4. A unitary system is simple with a clear vision, whereas the federal system may face duplication of policies.

Comparison Video

YouTube video

Conclusion

A unitary system is suitable for countries with a small geographical area and less international presence. On the other hand, the countries with a more diverse population, large geographical area, and massive international involvement are more suitable to the federal governing system.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson