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A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a political union of partially Federated state or regions under a central (federal) government. 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 of either party, the states or the federal political body. Alternatively, 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 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 infringe 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, are not truly federal states. Federation on CIA Factbook
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 multiple centuries. Austria and its Bundesländer was a unitary state with administrative divisions that became federated through the implementation of the Austrian Constitution following the 1918 collapse of Austria-Hungary. Germany, with its 16 states or Bundesländer, is an example of a federation.
Federations are often ethnic group and cover a large area of territory (such as Russia, the United States, Canada, India, or Brazil), but neither is necessarily the case. The initial agreements create a stability that encourages other common interests, reduces differences between the disparate territories, and gives them all even more common ground. At some time, that is recognized and a movement is organized to merge more closely. At other times, especially when common cultural factors are at play such as ethnicity and language, some of the steps in this pattern are expedited and compressed.
Several ancient chiefdoms and kingdoms, such as the 4th-century BCE League of Corinth, Noricum in Central Europe, and the Haudenosaunee in pre-Columbian North America, could be described as federations or . 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 (see Spanish American wars of independence). The oldest continuous federation, and a role model for many subsequent federations, is the United States. 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 and Mexico, have shifted between federal, Confederation, and unitary systems, before settling into federalism. Brazil became a federation only after the fall of Brazilian Empire (see States of Brazil), 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 of the Soviet Union and other federal subjects, though in practice highly centralized under the Government of the Soviet Union. The Russia has inherited a similar system.
Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Malaysia 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. On the other end of the timeline is Nepal, which became the newest federation after its constitution went into effect on 20 September 2015.
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 a number of 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.
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, 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.
A confederation, in modern political terms, is usually limited to a permanent union of sovereign states for common action in relation to other states.Oxford English Dictionary 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 present 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 officially called the Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica, Confédération suisse) this is also now a misnomer since the Swiss cantons lost their sovereign status in 1848. CH: Confoederatio Helvetica - Switzerland - Information. Swissworld.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
In Belgium, however, the opposite movement is under way.One of the most important recent books about the Belgian institutions, written by one of the leading French-speaking jurists 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 Belgium was founded as a centralised 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 (ex. competences are exclusive for either the federal or the state level, the treaty-making power of the Federating units almost without any possible veto of the Federal Government). 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.Many Flemings would prefer two states, Flanders and Wallonia, and two special regions, Brussels and the German-speaking region. In Wallonia, there is a wider support for three states : Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.
A confederation is most likely to feature three differences when contrasted with a federation: (1) No real direct powers: many confederal decisions are externalised 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 somewhat decentralised Canada in practice since its formation in 1867.
The European Union (EU) is a type of political union or confederation (the assemblage of societies or an association of two or more states into one state)."Federalist Paper No. 9", p.70 Alexander Hamilton Robert Schuman, the initiator of the European Community system, wrote that a supranational Community like the Europe's founding 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 superstate. La Communaute du Charbon et de l'Acier, p7 Paul Reuter with preface by Robert Schuman. Paris 1953. The European Founding Fathers made a Europe Declaration at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 18 April 1951 saying that Europe should be organized on a supranational foundation. They envisaged a structure quite different from a federation called the European Political Community.
The EU is a three-pillar structure of the original supranational European Economic Community and the nuclear 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 academic observers conclude that after 50 years of institutional evolution since the Treaties of Rome it is becoming one. 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, Member States' right to leave the Union is codified, and the Union operates with more qualified majority voting (rather than unanimity) in many areas.
A more nuanced view has been given by the German Constitutional Court.
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). Here the EU is defined as 'an association of sovereign national states ( Staatenverbund)'. BVerfG, 2 BvE 2/08 vom 30.6.2009, Absatz-Nr. (1–421) With this view, the European Union resembles more of a confederation.
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 interpreted slavery under the tenth amendment as a state right, while northern states were against slavery, with a catalysis occurring in the then–Bleeding Kansas) and 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 in Nigeria, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Gran Colombia, the United Provinces of Central America, and the West Indies Federation.
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.
For a detailed list of federated units, see . There are 27 federations as of October 2013.Forum of federations
|1853||Provinces of Argentina||23 provinces||Buenos Aires||R|
|1901||States and territories of Australia||6 states||3 federal territories (of which 2 are self-governing) and 7 external territories||M|
|1920||States of Austria||9 Länder or Bundesländer||R|
|1970||Divisions of Belgium||3 communities, 3 regions||M|
|1995||Divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina||2 entities, one of which is itself a federation of 10 cantons||1 District Brčko District is de jure part of both entities, and de facto administered separately from either.||R|
|1889||States of Brazil||27 federative units (of which one is a federal district and the others are states)20 provinces during the Empire of Brazil 1822–89||R|
|1867||Provinces and territories of Canada||10 provinces||3 territories||M|
|1975||Autonomous Islands of the Comoros||3 islands||R|
|1995||Regions of Ethiopia||9 regions||2 chartered cities||R|
|1949||States of Germany||16 Länder or Bundesländer||R|
|1950||States and territories of India||29 states||7 Union Territories, including a National Capital Territory||R|
|2005||Governorates of Iraq||18 provinces||R|
|1963||States of Malaysia||13 states||3 federal territories||M|
|1821||States of Mexico||32 federal entities, which are 31 states and its capital Mexico City||R|
|1979||Administrative divisions of Micronesia||4 states||R|
|2015||Provinces of Nepal||7 provinces|
|1963||States of Nigeria||36 states||1 federal capital territory||R|
|1956||Provinces and territories of Pakistan||4 provinces||4 federal territories including a federal capital territory||R|
|Federal subjects of Russia||46 oblasts, 22 republics, 9 krais, 4 autonomous okrugs, 3 federal-level cities, 1 autonomous oblast Federal structure of Russia, Article 65 of Russian Constitution.see Political status of Crimea.|
|1983||The islands St. Kitts and Nevis||2 islands||M|
|2012||Federal Member States of Somalia||18 regions||R|
|2011||States of South Sudan||32 states||R|
|1956||States of Sudan||17 states||R|
|1848||Cantons of Switzerland||26 cantonsThree pairs of cantons have less power at federal level than the other 20 cantons, but the same degree of internal autonomy.||R|
|1971||Emirates of the UAE||7|
|1776The 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.||Political divisions of the United States||50 states||1 federal district; 16 territoriesOf 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.||R|
|1863||States of Venezuela||23 states||1 federal district, 1 federal dependency||R|
Some of the proclaimed Arab federations were confederations de facto.