Unitary state

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Unitary states
Federal states Map of unitary and federal states.svg
  Unitary states

A unitary state is a state governed as a single entity in which the central government is the supreme authority. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative divisions (sub-national units). [1] Such units exercise only the powers that the central government chooses to delegate. Although political power may be delegated through devolution to regional or local governments by statute, the central government may abrogate the acts of devolved governments or curtail (or expand) their powers.

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Unitary states stand in contrast with federations, also known as federal states. A large majority of the world's sovereign states (166 of the 193 UN member states) have a unitary system of government. [2]

Devolution compared with federalism

A unitary system of government can be considered the opposite of federalism. In federations, the provincial/regional governments share powers with the central government as equal actors through a written constitution, to which the consent of both is required to make amendments. This means that the sub-national units have a right of existence and powers that cannot be unilaterally changed by the central government. [3]

There are, however, similarities between federalism and devolution. Devolution within a unitary state, like federalism, may be symmetrical, with all sub-national units having the same powers and status, or asymmetric, with sub-national units varying in their powers and status. Many unitary states have no areas possessing a degree of autonomy. [4] In such countries, sub-national regions cannot decide their own laws. Examples are Romania, Ireland and Norway. Svalbard has even less autonomy than the mainland. It is directly controlled by the government and has no local rule.

The pathway of regional integration or separation The pathway of regional integration or separation.png
The pathway of regional integration or separation

List of unitary republics and unitary kingdoms

Italics: States with limited recognition from other sovereign states or intergovernmental organizations.

Unitary republics

Unitary monarchies

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an example of a unitary state. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a degree of autonomous devolved power, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution (except in Scotland, where a referendum would be required to end devolution). Similarly in Spain, the devolved powers are delegated through the central government.

See also

Related Research Articles

Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government with regional governments in a single political system, dividing the powers between the two. Federalism in the modern era was first adopted in the unions of states during the Old Swiss Confederacy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Devolution</span> Granting of some competences of central government to local government

Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to govern at a subnational level, such as a regional or local level. It is a form of administrative decentralization. Devolved territories have the power to make legislation relevant to the area, thus granting them a higher level of autonomy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federation</span> Political union of partially self-governing territories under a central government

A federation 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federated state</span> Territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federal union

A federated state is a territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federation. Such states differ from fully sovereign states, in that they do not have full sovereign powers, as the sovereign powers have been divided between the federated states and the central or federal government. Importantly, federated states do not have standing as entities of international law. Instead, the federal union as a single entity is the sovereign state for purposes of international law. Depending on the constitutional structure of a particular federation, a federated state can hold various degrees of legislative, judicial, and administrative jurisdiction over a defined geographic territory and is a form of regional government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Administrative geography of the United Kingdom</span> Geographical subdivisions of local government in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The administrative geography of the United Kingdom is complex, multi-layered and non-uniform. The United Kingdom, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe, consists of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For local government in the United Kingdom, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own system of administrative and geographic demarcation. Consequently, there is "no common stratum of administrative unit encompassing the United Kingdom".

This gallery of sovereign state flags shows the national or state flags of sovereign states that appear on the list of sovereign states. For other flags, please see flags of active autonomist and secessionist movements, flags of extinct states and gallery of flags of dependent territories. Each flag is depicted as if the flagpole is positioned on the left of the flag, except for those of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, which are depicted with the hoist to the right.

Regionalism is a political ideology that seeks to increase the political power, influence, and/or self-determination of the people of one or more subnational regions. It focuses on the "development of a political or social system based on one or more" regions and/or the national, normative or economic interests of a specific region, group of regions or another subnational entity, gaining strength from or aiming to strengthen the "consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population", similarly to nationalism. More specifically, "regionalism refers to three distinct elements: movements demanding territorial autonomy within unitary states; the organization of the central state on a regional basis for the delivery of its policies including regional development policies; political decentralization and regional autonomy".

Political unitarism designates various theories, concepts or policies that advocate or enforce a fully unified and centralized system of government, with ultimate goal in creating a unitary state. In practice, unitarism is often manifested as a political doctrine or movement within complex political entities, advocating for the highest degree of political integration and unification, beyond mere administrative centralization.

A central government is the government that is a controlling power over a unitary state. Another type of distinct but sovereign political entity is a federal government, which may have distinct powers at various levels of government, authorised or delegated to it by the federation and mutually agreed upon by each of the federated states. Though inappropriate, the adjective "central" is also sometimes used to describe the government of a federation.

An autonomous administrative division is a subnational administrative division or internal territory of a sovereign state that has a degree of autonomy—self-governance—under the national government. Autonomous areas are distinct from the constituent units of a federation in that they possess unique powers for their given circumstances. Typically, it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the state or populated by a national minority. Decentralization of self-governing powers and functions to such divisions is a way for a national government to try to increase democratic participation or administrative efficiency or to defuse internal conflicts. States that include autonomous areas may be federacies, federations, or confederations. Autonomous areas can be divided into territorial autonomies, subregional territorial autonomies, and local autonomies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Regional state</span> Type of unitary decentralized state limited to regional government

A regional state, or a regionalised unitary state, is a term used to denote a type of state that is formally unitary but where a high degree of political power has been highly decentralised to regional governments. This contrasts with a state organized on principles of federalism where the powers of the regions are enshrined in constitutional law. In many cases, the regions are based on long standing cultural or regional divisions.

Asymmetric federalism or asymmetrical federalism is found in a federation or other types of union in which different constituent states possess different powers: one or more of the substates has considerably more autonomy than the other substates, although they have the same constitutional status. This is in contrast to symmetric federalism, where no distinction is made between constituent states. As a result, it is frequently proposed as a solution to the dissatisfaction that arises when one or more constituent units feel significantly different needs from the others, as the result of an ethnic, linguistic or cultural difference.

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.

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">Devolution in the United Kingdom</span> Granting governmental powers to parts of the UK

In the United Kingdom, devolution is the Parliament of the United Kingdom's statutory granting of a greater level of self-government to the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the London Assembly and to their associated executive bodies the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and in England, the Greater London Authority and combined authorities.

<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.

There have been various proposals for constitutional reform in the United Kingdom.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 "What is a Unitary State?". WorldAtlas. August 2017. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  2. "Democracy". www.un.org. 2015-11-20. Archived from the original on 2021-02-13. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  3. 1 2 Ghai, Yash; Regan, Anthony J. (September 2006). "Unitary state, devolution, autonomy, secession: State building and nation building in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea". The Round Table. 95 (386): 589–608. doi:10.1080/00358530600931178. ISSN   0035-8533. S2CID   153980559.
  4. "unitary system | government". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  5. Faulconbridge, Guy; Ellsworth, Brian (2021-11-30). "Barbados ditches Britain's Queen Elizabeth to become a republic". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  6. See also Political status of Taiwan, Chinese Taipei, One China and Taiwan, China.
  7. "Story: Nation and government – From colony to nation". The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  8. "Social policy in the UK". An introduction to Social Policy. Robert Gordon University – Aberdeen Business School. Archived from the original on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.