Features and Working Principles of Federation


Supremacy of constitution:

A federation is, in fact, an agreement between two or more states and regions to make a new state. This agreement is in form of written constitution, which defines the powers, and functions of federal and provincial governments.
Constitution is the source of federation unity because it is considered supreme law of the federating units. The constitution’s supremacy prevails due to three elements; it clearly shows powers and functions of federal powers and functions of federal and provincial governments; it is difficult to amend the constitution due to its rigidness; it provides for equal representation and share of each federating unit in the affairs of federation. 

Distribution of Powers:
It is most important principle of the working of the federation. This principle bases on the criterion that matters of local nature should be given to the provinces while the matters of national importance should be given under the control of federal government such as; Defence, Custom, Currency, Communication, and Foreign relations. There are three models of distribution of power principle: American model, India and Pakistan’s model, and Canadian model.

American Model:
In this case, the powers of federal government are written and remaining powers are called residuary and they are given to the federating states as to make the federating units strong and to facilitate federation functions.

India and Pakistan’s Model:
This model is based upon the act of 1935. This act shows that there are three types of power lists. The central list, which contains the powers of federal or central government, the provincial list, which contains the powers of provincial governments, and concurrent list which contains powers of central and provincial governments.

Canadian Model:
In this case, the powers of provinces are written and residuary powers are given to federal government to make it stronger than provinces.

Supreme of Judiciary:
A federation can work easily if it possesses a body or institution, which must enjoy the confidence of federating units. This institution may be judiciary. It is considered as the guardian of the constitution because whenever, a conflict or dispute emerges between federal government and provinces or between provinces, the judiciary interprets and explains the constitution and resolves the dispute. It shows that after constitution, judiciary is another binding and unifying element of federation.

Bicameral Legislature:
Each federation has a written constitution, which protects the rights and liberty of each unit, province of federation. The people of these areas can enjoy their rights and liberties but this is difficult in unitary system.

World Government:
The concept of federation is moving towards the concept of world government. In modern complicated society, people possess different types of thinking and interest. The rapid development of telex and satellite system brought the people so closer that they think in term of international society beside their national frontiers. The problem of a village, now has become problems of the world due to federal concept which is present in different societies of the world for example, United Nation Organization, World Health Organization, and Food and Agriculture Organization.

Merits:

Unity from diversity:
Federation creates unity diversity. Different small or big units, areas, or a region, having different cultures, traditions, languages, and outlooks, when tend to make federation, which is a unity, emerges from diversity. It means federation creates unity, which is a source of strength. 

Rapid Progress:
In a federation, different regions join and they exchange their skills and experiments, which help the big as well as small unit to achieve progress and prosperity and economic stability. This type of co-operation has created powerful federations of United States of America, Canada, U.S.S.R, and Australia. It shows that federation causes the rapid progress of the nations and nationalities.

Better control and Defence:
Federal system is beneficial for vast territorial states. A federation is base on two types of governments, the federal, and provincial. Similarly, each government in its own sphere due to which control system becomes effective and defence becomes easy. It is all due to facilitation of communicational system. For example, Russia has a vast area but it has divided all the area into small units. This division has made the administration in small as well as in big unit, effective and efficient. The similar case is United States of America, Pakistan, India, and Malaysia.

Rights and Liberty:
Each federation has a written constitution, which protects the rights and liberty of each unit, province of federation. The people of these areas can enjoy their rights and liberties but this is difficult in unitary system.

Demerits:

Weak Administration:
A federal system makes the administration of the state very weak because federation always faces a problem regarding central and provincial governments’ administrative legislative power and its execution. Each province faces its own problem of development, unemployment, public health, education, agriculture and much more. Including, there is always a danger of federation’s break up due to administrative weaknesses.

Lack of Uniformity:
Due to distribution of powers between central and provincial governments, the state lack of uniformity of law and policy. It also becomes intensify due to demand of full autonomy by different provinces, which increases the difficulties of people.

Hindrance in new Adoption:
In federal system, constitution is made deliberately rigid and amending process of constitution is very difficult due to which it becomes difficult for the nation to adopt new methods and laws for new environment. This rigidness of the constitution sometime becomes hindrance in the rapid development of the nation but it gives permanency to constitution and strength to federation.

Lack of quick decision in foreign policy:   
A federal state is helpless to follow a strong foreign policy because the central government has to seek the approval of the provincial governments regarding to state’s foreign policy. In United States of America, the president has to have the approval of the senate in the context of foreign policy.

Expensive Government:
The federal system is very expensive with regard to energy and economic expenditures. The system is not suitable for poor states because the double system of government requires a lot of energy on the part of governing parties or a party to carry the administrations of the state as well as to provide better facilities of communication to all the federating units of the state.

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