Federal and Unitary Systems Structure

Great Britain and Russia have been known as two of the most powerful countries in history. In its long period of existence, they have become basis for government structuring by other countries in the world over. On the one hand, Great Britain has been a great example of a country with a federal structure of government. From the earliest times, many English political theorists have found traces of concepts greatly rooted on social contract, people’s natural rights, mass consent and deep opposition to authority, and the philosophy behind a utilitarian structure of government.

(Burgess, 1995, p. 7). According to Follesdal (2006), a federal structure of government is one that involves a division of authority by territory or locally with a constitution drafted and promulgated by these different territories altogether and which changes cannot be made by any single authority (n. p. ). Unlike a unitary state, sovereignty is constitutionally split between at least two territorial levels so that units at each level have final authority and can act independently of the others in some area (Follesdal, 2006)

The federal system proves to be an effective form of government as constitutional power is also allocated to the sub-units, thus preventing total control from the central unit. It is also provides unified agreements from the sub-units strongly influencing decision-making of central unit (Madison, Hume, & Goodin, 1996 cited in Follesdal, 2006). It promotes checks and balances by sub-units and increases public participation, preventing total control from one central unit or minority (Follesdal, 2006).

Since time immemorial, English political tradition has included several forms of involvement in public affairs (Burgess, 1995). Today, British legislation continues to reflect the existence of this through the representatives of the masses in the government. Laws are enacted and never decided by the monarch without undergoing presentation, debate, and agreement by the Lords or the representatives. This process of enacting the bills makes the country more federal in nature than it has been before.

From the view of monarchy government central power have perpetually changing from weaker to stronger and vice-versa (Burgess, 1995, p. 8). On the other hand, after the break of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, Russia came out to be a more unitary state rather than a federation as they have declared (Sharlet, 1994, p. 115). A unitary government maintains power to a central unit over sub-units or territories and localities (Manis, 1999, n. p. ). This type of government structure proves advantageous, for all authorities rest on a central body or minority.

Thus, disagreements between localities may be avoided. In Russia’s first attempt to adopt a federal system, the country slowly became unstable with the federal structure giving more power to the localities or sub-units rather than give equal authority to both sub-units and central unit (Sharlet, 1994, p. 115). Following enactments in their constitution has only lead back to its core structure which is unitary. For instance, the Russian-Tatar treaty which was enacted in 1994 only gave rise to the rethinking of central authority in Russia (Sharlet, 1994, p. 115).

Today, the Russian appears more unitary as is evident in Article Two Chapter five of the Soviet constitution. It states that the supreme power of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic belongs to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Despite the seemingly huge difference between the two types of government structure, the fact remains that the relationship between the sub-units and a core unit relative to the power over the state greatly affects the country and its populace. In effect, it also opens great changes in its history and the whole world’s history. References Burgess, B. (1995).

The British Tradition of Federalism. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. Follesdal, A. (2006, October 12). Federalism. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Retrieved October 3, 2008 from http://www. seop. leeds. ac. uk/entries/federalism/ Manis, J. G. (1999, June 15). Unitary Hawaii: Over-centralization as a style of government. At Hawaii: Analysis of Hawaiian Politics, Economics and Society. Retrieved October 3, 2008 from http://www. lava. net/~manis/unit. htm Sharlet, R. (1994). The prospects for federalism in Russian constitutional politics. The Journal of Federalism, 24(2), 115-127;