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Last updated date: 09th Apr 2024
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What is Federation?

Federal government is a kind of national government in which the government has direct powers to assign the power to various other elected members of the states. Moreover, there can be two levels of federal government in a country either it’s carried out through common institutions or through powers as authorized by a constitution of the state. It’s literally the opposite of the unitary government. In federation or federal government, territories or provinces enjoy some rights available to the independent states. Although international diplomacy, foreign affairs, national security and other types of internal dealings are solely crafted by the federal government. 

Define Federation

Basically, a federal government is a solid system of splitting powers between a central national government and local state governments that are attached to each other by the national government. Most importantly, some areas of public life are under the control of the national government, and some areas are under the control of the local governments. So now that you know the federation meaning, you must also know how federal government systems work. 

Normally, federal government systems have a constitution that states what areas of public life will be controlled by the national government and what areas of public life will be controlled by the state governments. 

Some common federation examples are the United States, Malaysia, India, Russia, Canada, Brazil, Switzerland, Belgium, Pakistan, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Nigeria. 

Features of Federation 

Now that you’re familiar with the federation definition, it’s to know all it’s distinctive features. 

Division of Powers:

Usually, in a federal government, the powers of administration are divided between the centre and the units. The powers may be distributed in two different manners. Either the constitution expresses what powers the federal authority be obliged and leaves the remainder to the federating units, or it asserts what all powers the federating units shall have and leaves the rest to the federal authority. Thus, the remainder is basically called residuary powers. 

So, the first way was operated in America and the second in Canada. The federal government in the USA, for instance, is weak in association with the states, whereas the federal government in Canada is more powerful. In federation, both the federal and state governments are independent and autonomous in the domains of their respective powers. 

Separate Government:

In a federal type of government, both the units and the centre have their individual sets of government frameworks. In addition, America is a well-known federation of states. Therefore, states have separate legislatures and separate executives. 

Rigid Constitution:

The federal constitution should be more or less rigid. It is considered as a sacred agreement, the spirit of which must not be easily breached. Most importantly, a flexible constitution enables a realm to the central government to reduce the autonomy of the federating states.

Written Constitution:

No doubt, a federal government should have a written constitution. Moreover, a federation is a political partnership of multiple states and hence, there should be a written agreement in the form of a written constitution. 

Special Judiciary:

There are certain possibilities of constitutional disputes surfacing between the federal centre and the units or between one unit and another in a federal constitution. All such disputes should be settled in the light of the constitution. For this purpose, a special judiciary with extensive powers should be established. 

Moreover, it must act as the custodian and guardian of the constitution. Also, it should be entrusted to powers of proclaiming any law, national or local, ultra vires if it’s at variance with the articles of a certain constitution. Hence, the constitution is the supreme law in a federation to which both the centric and the state must comply. 

Benefits of a Federal Government

After knowing the federation meaning, it’s features, now it’s time to learn certain benefits of having a federal government. 

Reconciliation of Local Autonomy With National Unity

The primary benefit of a federal government is that in a country with several diversities and establishing a unitary government is next to impossible, a political organization can be founded through this type of government. In this kind of government, regional autonomy, local self-government, and national unity are highly possible. 

Power Division Between the Centre and States Results in Administrative Competence

With the proper division of powers, the work stress on the centre is reduced, and the centre is no longer bothered by the issues of a purely local nature. Furthermore, it can dedicate its full attention to matters of national interest and significance. Due to provincial or regional autonomy, the administration of such areas becomes systemic. 

Citizenship of Federal Government is More Dignified Than That of Its Units

Usually, the citizenship of a federal government is more elevated. If you announce yourself as Bengal, Assam, or Punjab citizens in foreign countries, it won’t be as dignified as it would be in declaring yourself as an Indian citizen. Likewise, the citizenship of Texas or New York is not as dignified as that of the United States of America. 

It is a Prototype for the World State

The widely known politicians believe that the world’s government is the only solution to the complications of world peace. Moreover, the framework of the world state can’t be unitary; thus it can only be federal. 


This article has successfully covered what is the meaning of federation, its examples, features, and benefits in depth. It is considered as a system where a group of states are there under the central government with a partially self governing system as well as powers. All these powers are given by the constitution of the country. Where one major feature of it is presence of rigid and written constitution, the other features are dual polity as well as dual citizenship etc. 

FAQs on Federation

1. What is the federation system of government?

The federation is basically a state with two or more categories of government in which there is a constitutional division of power between the central government that’s in full charge of the entire territory and the constituents’ units. 

2. What is the major difference between confederation and federation?

In terms of meaning, the difference between a federation and a confederation is that the membership of the member state in a confederation is basically voluntary. At the same time, the membership in the federation is not. Occasionally, confederation is wrongly used in the place of the federation.

3. What are the two forms of the federation?

There are majorly two kinds of federations, the first is ‘coming together federations’ and the second is ‘holding together federations’. While the USA falls under the first form of federation, India belongs to the latter form of federation.