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Federal states
Unitary states Map of unitary and federal states.svg
  Federal states
The pathway of regional integration or separation. The pathway of regional integration or separation.png
The pathway of regional integration or separation.

A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision, neither by the component states nor the federal political body. Alternatively, a federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs.


It is often argued that federal states where the central government has overriding powers are not truly federal states. For example, such overriding powers may include: the constitutional authority to suspend a constituent state's government by invoking gross mismanagement or civil unrest, or to adopt national legislation that overrides or infringes on the constituent states' powers by invoking the central government's constitutional authority to ensure "peace and good government" or to implement obligations contracted under an international treaty.

The governmental or constitutional structure found in a federation is considered to be federalist, or to be an example of federalism. It can be considered the opposite of another system, the unitary state. France, for example, has been unitary for many centuries. The Austrian Empire was a unitary state with crown lands, after the transformation into the Austria-Hungary monarchy the remaining crown lands of so-called Cisleithania became federated as Länder of the Republic of Austria through the implementation of its constitution. Germany, with its 16 states, or Länder, is an example of a federation. Federations are often multi-ethnic and cover a large area of territory (such as Russia, the United States, Canada, India, or Brazil), but neither is necessarily the case (such as Saint Kitts and Nevis or the Federated States of Micronesia).

Several ancient chiefdoms and kingdoms, such as the 4th-century BCE League of Corinth, Noricum in Central Europe, and the Iroquois Confederacy in pre-Columbian North America, could be described as federations or confederations. The Old Swiss Confederacy was an early example of formal non-unitary statehood.

Several colonies and dominions in the New World consisted of autonomous provinces, transformed to federal states upon independence such as the United States, and various countries in Latin America (see Spanish American wars of independence). Some of the New World federations failed; the Federal Republic of Central America broke up into independent states less than 20 years after its founding. Others, such as Argentina, have shifted between federal, confederal, and unitary systems, before settling into federalism. Brazil became a federation only after the fall of the monarchy, and Venezuela became a federation after the Federal War. Australia and Canada are also federations.

Germany is another nation-state that has switched between confederal, federal and unitary rules, since the German Confederation was founded in 1815. The North German Confederation, the succeeding German Empire and the Weimar Republic were federations.

Founded in 1922, the Soviet Union was formally a federation of Soviet republics, autonomous republics and other federal subjects, though in practice highly centralized under the government of the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation has inherited a similar system.

India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Malaysia (then Federation of Malaya) became federations on or shortly before becoming independent from the British Empire.

In some recent cases, federations have been instituted as a measure to handle ethnic conflict within a state, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iraq since 2005.

With the United States Constitution having become effective on 4 March 1789, the United States is the oldest surviving federation, while the newest federation is Nepal, after its constitution went into effect on 20 September 2015.

Federations and other forms of state

A map of the Russian Federation, showing its eighty-three federal subjects before the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russian Regions-EN.svg
A map of the Russian Federation, showing its eighty-three federal subjects before the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
A map of Brazil, showing its twenty-six constituent states and the Federal District. Brazil, administrative divisions (states) - en - colored.svg
A map of Brazil, showing its twenty-six constituent states and the Federal District.
A map of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, showing its regions. Regions of Ethiopia EN.svg
A map of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, showing its regions.
A map of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, showing its 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Nigeria states.png
A map of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, showing its 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
A map of the United Mexican States (Mexico), showing its thirty-one constituent states and Mexico City. Mapa Mexico 2010.PNG
A map of the United Mexican States (Mexico), showing its thirty-one constituent states and Mexico City.
A map of the United States of America showing its fifty constituent states and the District of Columbia. Map of USA with state names.svg
A map of the United States of America showing its fifty constituent states and the District of Columbia.
A map of Canada showing its ten provinces and three territories. Political map of Canada.svg
A map of Canada showing its ten provinces and three territories.
A map of Australia showing its six states and ten territories. Australia states and territories labelled.svg
A map of Australia showing its six states and ten territories.
A political map of India showing 28 states and 8 union territories including the National Capital Territory. Map-of-india-political-enlarge-view.gif
A political map of India showing 28 states and 8 union territories including the National Capital Territory.
A map of the Federal Republic of Germany showing its sixteen constituent states (Lander) including three city-states. Germany, administrative divisions (+districts) - de - colored.svg
A map of the Federal Republic of Germany showing its sixteen constituent states (Länder) including three city-states.


The component states are in some sense sovereign, insofar as certain powers are reserved to them that may not be exercised by the central government. However, a federation is more than a mere loose alliance of independent states. The component states of a federation usually possess no powers in relation to foreign policy and so enjoy no independent status under international law. However, German Länder have that power, [1] which is beginning to be exercised on a European level.

Some federations are called asymmetric because some states have more autonomy than others. An example of such a federation is Malaysia, in which Sarawak and Sabah agreed to form the federation on different terms and conditions from the states of Peninsular Malaysia.

A federation often emerges from an initial agreement between several separate states. The purpose can be the will to solve mutual problems and to provide for mutual defense or to create a nation-state for an ethnicity spread over several states. The former was the case with the United States and Switzerland. However, as the histories of countries and nations vary, the federalist system of a state can be quite different from these models. Australia, for instance, is unique in that it came into existence as a nation by the democratic vote of the citizens of each state, who voted "yes" in referendums to adopt the Australian Constitution. Brazil, on the other hand, has experienced both the federal and the unitary state during its history. Some present-day states of the Brazilian federation retain borders set during the Portuguese colonization (before the very existence of the Brazilian state), whereas the latest state, Tocantins, was created by the 1988 Constitution for chiefly administrative reasons.

Seven of the top eight largest countries by area are governed as federations.

Unitary states

A unitary state is sometimes one with only a single, centralized, national tier of government. However, unitary states often also include one or more self-governing regions. The difference between a federation and this kind of unitary state is that in a unitary state the autonomous status of self-governing regions exists by the sufferance of the central government, and may be unilaterally revoked. While it is common for a federation to be brought into being by agreement between a number of formally independent states, in a unitary state self-governing regions are often created through a process of devolution, where a formerly centralized state agrees to grant autonomy to a region that was previously entirely subordinate. Thus, federations are often established voluntarily from "below" whereas devolution grants self-government from "above".

It is often part of the philosophy of a unitary state that, regardless of the actual status of any of its parts, its entire territory constitutes a single sovereign entity or nation-state,[ citation needed ] and that by virtue of this the central government exercises sovereignty over the whole territory as of right. In a federation, on the other hand, sovereignty is often regarded as residing notionally in the component states, or as being shared between these states and the central government.[ citation needed ]


The Swiss Confederation and its 26 cantons. Carte suisse2.png
The Swiss Confederation and its 26 cantons.

A confederation, in modern political terms, is usually limited to a permanent union of sovereign states for common action in relation to other states. [2] The closest entity in the world to a confederation at this time is the European Union. While the word confederation was officially used when the Canadian federal system was established in 1867, the term refers only to the process and not the resulting state since Canadian provinces are not sovereign and do not claim to be. In the case of Switzerland, while the country is still known officially as the Swiss Confederation, this is now a misnomer since the Swiss cantons lost their sovereign status in 1848. [3]

In Belgium, however, the opposite movement is underway. [4] Belgium was founded as a centralized state, after the French model, but has gradually been reformed into a federal state by consecutive constitutional reforms since the 1970s. Moreover, although nominally called a federal state, the country's structure already has a number of confederational traits. At present, there is a growing movement to transform the existing federal state into a looser confederation with two or three constitutive states and/or two special regions. [5]

A confederation is most likely to feature three differences when contrasted with a federation: (1) No real direct powers: many confederal decisions are externalized by member-state legislation; (2) Decisions on day-to-day-matters are not taken by simple majority but by special majorities or even by consensus or unanimity (veto for every member); (3) Changes of the constitution, usually a treaty, require unanimity.

Over time these terms acquired distinct connotations leading to the present difference in definition. An example of this is the United States under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles established a national government under what today would be defined as a federal system (albeit with a comparatively weaker federal government). However, Canadians, designed with a stronger central government than the U.S. in the wake of the Civil War of the latter, use the term "Confederation" to refer to the formation or joining, not the structure, of Canada. Legal reforms, court rulings, and political compromises have decentralized Canada in practice since its formation in 1867.


An empire is a multi-ethnic state, multinational state, or a group of nations with a central government established usually through coercion (on the model of the Roman Empire). An empire often includes self-governing regions, but these will possess autonomy only at the sufferance of the central government. On the other hand, a political entity that is an empire in name, may comprise several partly autonomous kingdoms organised together in a federation, with the empire being ruled over by an emperor or senior king (great king, high king, king of kings...). One example of this was the German Empire (1871–1918).

Comparison with other systems of autonomy


A federacy [6] is a unitary state that incorporates one or more self-governing autonomous areas. It is distinguished from a federation in that the constitutional structure of the state is still unitary, but incorporates federalist principles. Some federacies, notably Åland, were established through international treaty.


A federation differs from a devolved state, such as Indonesia and the United Kingdom, because, in a devolved state, the central government can revoke the independence of the subunits (Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the Northern Ireland Assembly in the case of the UK) without changing the constitution. In some cases, such as the Autonomous communities of Spain, devolution has led to federation in all but name, or "federation without federalism". [7]

Associated states

A federation also differs from an associated state, such as the Federated States of Micronesia (in free association with the United States) and Cook Islands and Niue (which form part of the Realm of New Zealand). There are two kinds of associated states: in case of Micronesia, the association is concluded by a treaty between two sovereign states; in the case of the Cook Islands and Niue, the association is concluded by domestic legal arrangements.

Crown dependencies

The relation between the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man and the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands and the United Kingdom is very similar to a federate relation: the Islands enjoy independence from the United Kingdom, which, via The Crown, takes care of their foreign relations and defense – although the UK Parliament does have overall power to legislate for the dependencies. However, the islands are neither an incorporated part of the United Kingdom nor are they considered to be independent or associated states. The islands do not have a monarch, per se; rather in the Isle of Man the British Monarch is, ex officio , Lord of Mann, and in the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, the British Monarch rules as the Duke of Normandy.

Dependent territories

Dependent territories, such as the British overseas territories, are vested with varying degrees of power; some enjoy considerable independence from the sovereign state, which only takes care of their foreign relations and defense. However, they are neither considered to be part of it nor recognized as sovereign or associated states.

De facto federations

The distinction between a federation and a unitary state is often quite ambiguous. A unitary state may closely resemble a federation in structure and, while a central government may possess the theoretical right to revoke the autonomy of a self-governing region, it may be politically difficult for it to do so in practice. The self-governing regions of some unitary states also often enjoy greater autonomy than those of some federations. For these reasons, it is sometimes argued that some modern unitary states are de facto federations. [8]

De facto federations, or quasi-federations, are often termed "regional states".


The Autonomous communities of Spain. Comunidades autonomas de Espana.svg
The Autonomous communities of Spain.

Spain is suggested as one possible de facto federation [9] as it grants more self-government to its autonomous communities [10] [11] than are retained by the constituent entities of most federations. [12] For the Spanish parliament to revoke the autonomy of regions such as Galicia, Catalonia or the Basque Country would be a political near-impossibility, though nothing bars it legally. The Spanish parliament has, however, suspended the autonomy of Catalonia in response to the Catalan declaration of independence, in the lead up to the 2017 Catalan election. [13] Additionally, some autonomies such as Navarre or the Basque Country have full control over taxation and spending, transferring a payment to the central government for the common services (military, foreign relations, macroeconomic policy). For example, scholar Enrique Guillén López discusses the "federal nature of Spain's government (a trend that almost no one denies)." [14] Each autonomous community is governed by a Statute of Autonomy (Estatuto de Autonomía) under the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

South Africa

Provinces of South Africa. Map of South Africa with English labels.svg
Provinces of South Africa.

Although South Africa bears some elements of a federal system, such as the allocation of certain powers to provinces, it is nevertheless constitutionally and functionally a unitary state. [15]

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a sui generis political union or confederation (the assemblage of societies or an association of two or more states into one state). [16] Robert Schuman, the initiator of the European Community system, wrote that a transnational Community like the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community lay midway between an association of States where they retained complete independence and a federation leading to a fusion of States in a super-state. [17] The Founding Fathers of the European Union wrote the Europe Declaration (Charter of the Community) at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 18 April 1951 saying that Europe should be organized on a transnational foundation. They envisaged a structure quite different from a federation called the European Political Community.[ citation needed ]

The EU is a three-pillar structure of the original supranational European Economic Community and the nuclear energy cooperation and non-proliferation treaty, Euratom, plus two largely intergovernmental pillars dealing with External Affairs and Justice and Home Affairs. The EU is therefore not a de jure federation, although some[ who? ] academic observers conclude that after 50 years of institutional evolution since the Treaties of Rome it is becoming one. [18] The European Union possesses attributes of a federal state. However, its central government is far weaker than that of most federations and the individual members are sovereign states under international law, so it is usually characterized as an unprecedented form of supra-national union. The EU has responsibility for important areas such as trade, monetary union, agriculture, fisheries. Nonetheless, EU member states retain the right to act independently in matters of foreign policy and defense, and also enjoy a near-monopoly over other major policy areas such as criminal justice and taxation. Since the Treaty of Lisbon, the Member States' right to leave the Union is codified, and the Union operates with more qualified majority voting (rather than unanimity) in many areas.[ citation needed ]

By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organized Europe. This Europe remains open to all nations. We profoundly hope that other nations will join us in our common endeavor.

Europe Declaration, signed by Konrad Adenauer (West Germany), Paul van Zeeland, Joseph Meurice (Belgium) Robert Schuman (France) Count Sforza (Italy) Joseph Bech (Luxembourg) and Dirk Stikker, J. R. M. van den Brink (The Netherlands). [19]

Europe has charted its own brand of constitutional federalism.

European Constitutionalism Beyond the State. Edited with Marlene Wind (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003) page 23, Joseph H. H. Weiler

Those uncomfortable using the "F" word in the EU context should feel free to refer to it as a quasi-federal or federal-like system. Nevertheless, for the purposes of the analysis here, the EU has the necessary attributes of a federal system. It is striking that while many scholars of the EU continue to resist analyzing it as a federation, most contemporary students of federalism view the EU as a federal system. (See, for instance, Bednar, Filippov et al., McKay, Kelemen, Defigueido and Weingast)

A more nuanced view has been given by the German Constitutional Court. [20] Here the EU is defined as 'an association of sovereign national states ( Staatenverbund )'. [21] With this view, the European Union resembles more of a confederation.

People's Republic of China

Constitutionally, the power vested in the special administrative regions of the People's Republic is granted from the Central People's Government, through a decision by the National People's Congress. However, there have been certain largely informal grants of power to the provinces, to handle economic affairs and implement national policies, resulting in a system some have termed federalism "with Chinese characteristics". [22]


Constitutionally a unitary state, the political system in Myanmar bears many elements of federalism. Each administrative division has its own cabinets and chief ministers, making it more like a federation rather than a unitary state.

Wallis and Futuna

The French overseas collectivity Wallis and Futuna maintains some quasi-federation attributes. The territory is divided into three traditional chiefdoms: Uvea, Sigave, and Alo. The chiefdoms are allowed to have their own legal system which have to be implemented along with French legal system.

Internal controversy and conflict

The United Provinces of Central America was a short-lived federal republic. CentralAmerica1860MapSmall.jpg
The United Provinces of Central America was a short-lived federal republic.

Certain forms of political and constitutional dispute are common to federations. One issue is that the exact division of power and responsibility between federal and regional governments is often a source of controversy. Often, as is the case with the United States, such conflicts are resolved through the judicial system, which delimits the powers of federal and local governments. The relationship between federal and local courts varies from nation to nation and can be a controversial and complex issue in itself.

Another common issue in federal systems is the conflict between regional and national interests, or between the interests and aspirations of different ethnic groups. In some federations the entire jurisdiction is relatively homogeneous and each constituent state resembles a miniature version of the whole; this is known as 'congruent federalism'. On the other hand, incongruent federalism exists where different states or regions possess distinct ethnic groups.

The ability of a federal government to create national institutions that can mediate differences that arise because of linguistic, ethnic, religious, or other regional differences is an important challenge. The inability to meet this challenge may lead to the secession of parts of a federation or to civil war, as occurred in the United States (southern states sought to protect the institution of slavery while northern states opposed it, with a catalysis occurring in the then–Kansas Territory), in Nigeria and in Switzerland. In the case of Malaysia, Singapore was expelled from the federation because of rising racial tension. In some cases, internal conflict may lead a federation to collapse entirely, as occurred the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Gran Colombia, the United Provinces of Central America, and the West Indies Federation.

Federal governments

The federal government is the common government of a national or supranational federation. A federal government may have distinct powers at various levels authorized or delegated to it by its member states. The structure of federal governments vary. Based on a broad definition of a basic federalism, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and govern through common institutions with overlapping or shared powers as prescribed by a constitution.

The federal government is the government at the level of the sovereign state. Usual responsibilities of this level of government are maintaining national security and exercising international diplomacy, including the right to sign binding treaties. Basically, a modern federal government, within the limits defined by its constitution, has the power to make laws for the whole country, unlike local governments. As originally written, the United States Constitution was created to limit the federal government from exerting power over the states by enumerating only specific powers. It was further limited by the addition of the Tenth Amendment contained in the Bill of Rights and the Eleventh Amendment. However, later amendments, particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, gave the federal government considerable authority over states.

Federal government within this structure are the government ministries and departments and agencies to which the ministers of government are assigned.



There are 27 federations in the world, with 6 each in Africa, Asia and Europe, 4 in North America, 3 in South America and 2 in Oceania.

Current federations
Year est.FederationType
[t 1]
Top-level subdivisions (federated and other)Major federated unitsMinor units [t 2] (federated or other)
1853Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentine Republic R Provinces of Argentina 23 provinces 1 autonomous city
1901Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Commonwealth of Australia M States and territories of Australia 6 states3 internal territories (of which 2 are self-governing) and 7 external territories
1920Flag of Austria.svg  Republic of Austria R States of Austria 9 states (Länder or Bundesländer) incl. the city-state of Vienna
1993Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Kingdom of Belgium M Divisions of Belgium 3 communities, 3 regions3 communitarian commissions
1995Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina R Divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 entities, one of which is itself a federation of 10 cantons1 district [t 3]
1889Flag of Brazil.svg  Federative Republic of Brazil R Federative units of Brazil 27 federative units (of which one is a federal district and the others are states) [t 4]
1867Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada M Provinces and territories of Canada 10 provinces3 territories
1975Flag of the Comoros.svg  Union of the Comoros R Autonomous Islands of the Comoros 3 islands
1995Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia R Regions and chartered cities of Ethiopia 11 regions2 chartered cities
1949Flag of Germany.svg  Federal Republic of Germany R States of Germany 16 states (Länder or Bundesländer) incl. the city-states of Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen
1947 [t 5] Flag of India.svg  Republic of India R States and union territories of India 28 states 8 union territories, including a 1 national capital territory
2005Flag of Iraq.svg  Republic of Iraq R Governorates of Iraq 19 provinces
1963Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia M States of Malaysia 13 states3 federal territories
1821Flag of Mexico.svg  United Mexican States R States of Mexico 32 federal entities, which are 31 states and its capital Mexico City
1979Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Federated States of Micronesia R Administrative divisions of Micronesia 4 states
2015Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal R Provinces of Nepal 7 provinces
1960 [t 6] Flag of Nigeria.svg  Federal Republic of Nigeria R Subdivisions of Nigeria 36 states 1 federal capital territory
1947 [t 7] Flag of Pakistan.svg  Islamic Republic of Pakistan R Provinces and territories of Pakistan 4 provinces 2 autonomous territories and 1 federal capital territory
1918 [t 8] Flag of Russia.svg  Russian Federation R Federal subjects of Russia 46 oblasts, 22 republics, 9 krais, 4 autonomous okrugs, 3 federal-level cities, 1 autonomous oblast [24] [25]
1983Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis MThe islands St. Kitts and Nevis 1 federal unit (the island of Nevis)The island of Saint Kitts (directly administered by the federal government)
2012Flag of Somalia.svg  Federal Republic of Somalia R Federal Member States of Somalia 5 States [26]
2011Flag of South Sudan.svg  Republic of South Sudan R States of South Sudan 10 states3 administrative areas (which one of them has special administrative status)
1956Flag of Sudan.svg  Republic of the Sudan R States of Sudan 18 states
1848Flag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg  Swiss Confederation R Cantons of Switzerland 26 cantons [t 9]
1971Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates M Emirates of the UAE 7 emirates
1776 [t 10] Flag of the United States.svg  United States of America R Political divisions of the United States 50 states 1 federal district; 16 territories [t 11]
1863Flag of Venezuela.svg  Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela R States of Venezuela 23 states 1 federal district, 1 federal dependency
  1. R = Federal republic; M = Federal monarchy (in the loose sense).
  2. That is, first-level subdivisions possessing less autonomy than the major federated units.
  3. Brčko District is de jure part of both entities, and de facto administered separately from either.
  4. 20 provinces during the Empire of Brazil 1822–89
  5. As an independent Dominion; republic declared in 1950
  6. As the Federation of Nigeria; republic declared in 1963
  7. As an independent Dominion; republic declared in 1956
  8. Declared by the Soviet Russian government. Part of the Soviet Union since 1922, which developed into a highly centralized one-party dictatorship afterwards. After its breakup, a new Treaty of Federation was signed in 1992.
  9. Three pairs of cantons have less power at federal level than the other 20 cantons, but the same degree of internal autonomy.
  10. The United States Constitution, which replaced the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was drafted in 1787 and was ratified in 1788. The first Congress and President did not take office until March 1789.
  11. Of the 5 territories that are permanently inhabited, all are unincorporated, two are commonwealths and a third is formally unorganized. Of the other 11, one is incorporated and all are unorganized; together they form the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The term insular area includes both territories and places with a Compact of Free Association.


Some of the proclaimed Arab federations were confederations de facto.

See also

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A federacy is a form of government where one or several substate units enjoy considerably more independence than the majority of the substate units. To some extent, such an arrangement can be considered to be similar to asymmetric federalism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Granadine Confederation</span> 1858–1863 federal state in Central and South America

The Granadine Confederation was a short-lived federal republic established in 1858 as a result of a constitutional change replacing the Republic of New Granada. It consisted of the present-day nations of Colombia and Panama and parts of northwestern Brazil. In turn, the Granadine Confederation was replaced by the United States of Colombia after another constitutional change in 1863.

A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia, which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The term province has since been adopted by many countries. In some countries with no actual provinces, "the provinces" is a metaphorical term meaning "outside the capital city".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federalism in Germany</span> Overview of federalism in Germany

Federalism in Germany is made of the states of Germany and the federal government. The central government, the states, and the German municipalities have different tasks and partially competing regions of responsibilities ruled by a complex system of checks and balances.

Staatenverbund is a neologism for a system of multi-level governance in which states work more closely together than in a confederation but, unlike a federal state, retain their own sovereignty. The concept is used in Germany to describe the European Union but has no direct equivalent in other languages. In German jurisprudence, a Staatenverbund is a supranational institution that may exercise sovereign acts but may not independently fix areas where it may exercise this power.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federalism in the United Kingdom</span> Proposed constitutional reform of a division of powers

Federalism in the United Kingdom refers to the concept of constitutional reform, where there is a division of legislative powers between two or more levels of government, therefore sovereignty is non-centralised between a federal government and autonomous governments in a federal system.


  1. Leonardy, U. (1992). "Federation and Länder in German foreign relations: Power‐sharing in treaty‐making and European affairs". German Politics. 1 (3): 119–135. doi:10.1080/09644009208404305.
  2. "confederation" . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. CH: Confoederatio Helvetica - Switzerland - Information Archived 30 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine . Swissworld.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  4. One of the most important recent books about the Belgian institutions, written by one of the leading French-speaking jurists[ who? ] concludes: Vers le confédéralisme (Toward a Confederation). See: Charles-Etienne Lagasse, Les Nouvelles institutions politiques de la Belgique et de l'Europe, Erasme, Namur 2003, p. 603 ISBN   2-87127-783-4
  5. Many Flemings would prefer two states, Flanders and Wallonia, and two special regions, Brussels and the German-speaking region. In Wallonia, there is wider support for three states: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.
  6. Some dictionaries, such as the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1989 ed.), state that federacy is synonymous with confederacy ("by aphesis"). In French, the English words federacy, confederacy, and confederation are all translated by "confédération".
  7. The Federal Option and Constitutional Management of Diversity in Spain Xavier Arbós Marín, page 375; included in 'The Ways of Federalism in Western Countries and the Horizons of Territorial Autonomy in Spain' (volume 2), edited by Alberto López-Eguren and Leire Escajedo San Epifanio; edited by Springer ISBN   978-3-642-27716-0, ISBN   978-3-642-27717-7(eBook)
  8. Sahadzic, Maja. "Federal Theory on Constitutional Asymmetries: revisited" (PDF). Queen Mary Law Journal: 135–147.
  9. "Is Spain a federation?". Eupedia.com. 8–25 May 2010.
  10. Mallet, Victor (18 August 2010). "Flimsier footings" . Financial Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 25 August 2010.(registration required)
  11. "A survey of Spain: How much is enough?". The Economist. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2010.(subscription required)
  12. Moreno, Luis. "Federalization in multinational Spain" (PDF). Unidad de Políticas Comparadas (CSIC). Working Paper 07-04.
  13. "Rajoy cesa al Govern, disuelve el Parlament y convoca elecciones para el 21 de diciembre". eldiario.es. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  14. Enrique Guillén López Archived 11 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine , JUDICIAL REVIEW IN SPAIN: THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, 41 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 541, 544 (2008).
  15. Wright, Jonathan Haydn Faure (31 March 2014). "The type of government in the Republic of South Africa - Examining the presence of federal and unitary state elements in the republic". www.researchgate.net. Retrieved 8 November 2016. After careful research and analysis of various sources and the constitution, it can be confirmed that the government system in the Republic of South Africa is a unitary system. Observance of the government in action, as well as analysis of the constitution, has contributed to this confirmation. Despite the delocalization enjoyed within the republic, the federal principle is not evident enough and it failed Wheare's very simple federal test right in the beginning
  16. "Federalist Paper No. 9", p. 70 Alexander Hamilton
  17. La Communaute du Charbon et de l'Acier, p7 Paul Reuter with a preface by Robert Schuman. Paris 1953.
  18. Josselin, J. M.; Marciano, A. (2006). "How the court made a federation of the EU". The Review of International Organizations. 2: 59–75. doi:10.1007/s11558-006-9001-y. S2CID   153687230.
  19. Schuman or Monnet? The real Architect of Europe. p 129. Bron 2004
  20. "Federal Constitutional Court Press Release No. 72/2009 of 30 June 2009. Judgment of 30 June 2009: Act Approving the Treaty of Lisbon compatible with the Basic Law; accompanying law unconstitutional to the extent that legislative bodies have not been accorded sufficient rights of participation". Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012. Due to this structural democratic deficit, which cannot be resolved in an association of sovereign national states (Staatenverbund), further steps of integration that go beyond the status quo may undermine neither the States' political power of action nor the principle of conferral. The peoples of the Member States are the holders of the constituent power. The Basic Law does not permit the special bodies of the legislative, executive and judicial power to dispose of the essential elements of the constitution, i.e. of the constitutional identity (Article 23.1 sentence 3, Article 79.3 GG). The constitutional identity is an inalienable element of the democratic self-determination of a people.
    The original German uses the word Staatenverbund, which they translate as "association of sovereign states", rather than the word Staatenbund (confederation of states) or Bundesstaat (federal state).
  21. BVerfG, 2 BvE 2/08 vom 30.6.2009, Absatz-Nr. (1–421)
  22. Economic Warlords by Gregory H. Fuller
  23. "Guidebook to the Somali Draft Provisional Constitution". Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  24. Federal structure of Russia, Article 65 of Russian Constitution.
  25. see Political status of Crimea.
  26. "Federal Member States (FMS)". 13 April 2018.
  27. Whaley, Joachim (2002). "2: Federal Habits: the Holy Roman Empire and the continuity of German Federalism". In Umbach, Maiken (ed.). German Federalism: Past, Present and Future. New Perspectives in German Political Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 15. ISBN   9780230505797 . Retrieved 19 November 2017. Few would query the proposition that German federalism has deep historical roots. Indeed discussion of its contemporary manestation in the Federal Republic routinely refer to the federal traditions of the Holy Roman Empire -...].
  28. The constitution of the USSR defined it as a federation, but at least until its final years in the late eighties and early nineties of the 20th century, it had in practice a highly centralized governance.
  29. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was officially proclaimed in 1963. Prior to this, the communist Yugoslav state was named Democratic Federal Yugoslavia in 1943 and then Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946. See: Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  30. Gained independence in 1957, joined with Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963.
  31. Became Czech and Slovak Federative Republic through a constitutional change in 1990.