Free «Unitary Government» Essay Sample

Governments play very important roles in our daily lives. The government, through its arms, formulates, interprets and implements various rules, regulations and policies that affect the citizens’ daily lives. However, these government systems do vary depending on who controls power. The development of republican and democratic states has ignited a heated debate about what constitutes a Unitary System and a Federal System of governance. This paper is such a debate and it tries to shed some light upon these two systems of governance. A unitary government is comprised of a central government that is supreme and other administrative divisions that only exercise those powers that have been delegated to them by the central government. In a unitary state, the central government holds considerable powers and jurisdictions inline with the doctrines that have been set by the parliament (Lijphart, 2003). This means that the power of the central governments curtails those of the states as well as their judicial system. The United Kingdom, Japan and Canada are apt examples of unitary states. In Japan, for instance, the citizens vote for their representatives into the diet as the representatives get there, they are headed by a prime minister, appointed by the emperor. The cabinet formulates policies, which are discussed at the diet and implemented non-selectively across the empire. The diet is the only organ responsible for making laws. On the other hand, the federal government has the obligation of sharing duties and responsibilities with other states (Kesselman, 2009). This case is different from the federal government and sub national states are independent from the central government. However, they may share policies because the states and the federal government share the constitution. Most of these unitary governments treat other forms of states or provinces as an arm of the main government. For instance in the Philippines, the president is both the head of the state and the government. The government has established 17 regions of which, each region has a government office for easy administration. However, these regions are not allowed to have local government and incase of an autonomous region the government provides a set up if voters approve. Nevertheless, the federal governments treat the sub national units as separate entities. Lijphart (2003) asserts that the constitution sets a limit to the jurisdiction of the government and states. For example, in Canada, the provincial state roles and responsibilities are defined as the outstanding power belongs to the federal government. Unitary governments are to some extent better placed compared to the federal government. This is because most unitary government, there is uniformity. The central government has the obligation of controlling everything including taxes. Thus, it is the only authority controlling the government, its finances and policies. Moreover, its uniformity makes the policy making process simpler and faster. On contrary, federal governments have numerous conflicts with the state/ province governments, congress, the courts and interest groups. For example, in Canada, conflicts always arise between the federal and province governments about taxes. Moreover, the policy making process in these countries are bureaucratic due to plentiful consultations and power struggles during the policy formulation and implementation process (Quigley, 2011). The founders of this philosophy believed in democracy and consider it as one way of eliminating dictatorship. Citing an example, in United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher was seen as one on the way she dominated all the cabinet policy making meetings. Though, the process of formulation and implementation of the policies was fast and made the process simple. Moreover, in the unitary government system, there is only one central system that formulates laws – the national assembly or parliament. This makes the process pretty fast, unlike in the federal government where each state formulates its own regulation. For example, in the USA the state government is responsible of formulation of education policies at regional level. This makes the process more slow. Additionally, unitary governments reduce corruption at local levels due to simple financial and economic management and proper usage of taxes. This is because the state has exceptional financial management methods that are efficient. This case is slightly different in federal government. This is because the federal government has limited control over the regional government. The federal governments also have complex financial management methods because of copious uncontrollable state (Lijphart, 2003). This fact makes embezzlement of funds or corruption possible at regional government levels. However, this can also be an advantage to the federal government, if they choose to share ideas between the states. Thus, the decisions made are reliable.


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