Federation and Federalism

Federation and Federalism

In the modern world, there are various forms of state-territorial organization, including more than 20 federations. The federal system is a kind of state structure, which is a necessary institution of the constitutional law of each country. States differently determine their internal structure, depending on historical traditions, the national composition of the population, and other factors. Territorially large states adopt a federal form of government (due to the reasons for resolving a national question or the impossibility of effective democratic governance from one center). Establishing one form or another of the state structure, the constitution of any state distributes or, conversely, concentrates power, thereby determining the legal basis for solving problems of social development.

Under the state, the system is understood the political-territorial organization of power, which defines the legal status of the regional parts of the country and their relationship with the central government. Consequently, the state system determines the degree of centralization and decentralization of power (the relation between parts and the whole). This problem is relatively easy to be solved in geographically small states, but it becomes complicated in larger countries.


Federalism is a broader concept than a federation. It is defined as the principle, concept, the paradigm of the state system, which ensures the unity and plurality of state and social power in the conditions of its territorial organization on several levels. Federalism embodies the way of resolving disagreements and uniting people and their formations at the state level as a regime and a form of government; it defines the division of state power vertically between territorial entities of different levels in a single state.

The Federal System of Government

The US state system is defined by the US Constitution. The constitution defines both the system of federal government of the United States and the relationship between the federal and state authorities, as well as with US citizens.

The US Constitution provides for the principle of separation of powers into three branches (legislative, executive, and judicial). Such a system is designed to balance all institutions, without giving advantages to any of them, and thereby preserve the existing democratic system.

The highest legislative body of the American state is the US Congress. The Congress sets federal taxes, forms and maintains the armed forces, declares war, determines the rules for obtaining citizenship, has the right to mint money, creates a postal service, determines units of measurement, establishes courts (subordinate to the Supreme Court) and is authorized in many other matters. The Congress also enacts the laws necessary to exercise all the powers submitted by the Constitution to the US federal government. It has the right to conduct the procedure of impeachment in cases specifically stipulated by law (dismissal of the President of the United States, federal judges, and other government officials). In addition, the US Congress has the right to directly manage the District of Columbia (although in practice the city is governed by the mayor and the city council).

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