A unitary system is a form of government where power is focused among the central government, although many assert that there is no particular definition for a unitary system. A unitary state is an independent state which is governed as one solitary element where the central government is highest and any administrative division implements powers that the central government decides to delegate. The unitary system is the most common type of government, and numerous states use this system of government. It takes place in both self-governing and non self-governing nations. Many European nations have unitary governments although some nations such as Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria and Russia do not have a unitary government. The central government in a unitary system is accountable for organizing matters at that national level such as foreign affairs, national economic policy, and national defense. The central leader or the body that makes decisions regulates all characteristics of supremacy, since there is no authority lawfully set aside for other stages of power. All regions of government are under the power of one body, so nations that have unitary systems usually have more consistent laws and policies than alliances. According to John Markley, ‘Most governments based on the Westminster system are unitary, although Canada, Australia, India and Malaysia have federal constitutions’ (John Markley, pars 2). Not all government decisions in unitary states are made by the holder of power. Unitary governments also give executive power to local authorities in a process called ‘devolution, which often is instituted to accommodate ethnic or linguistic minorities who desire greater autonomy’ (John Markley, pars 2). Not all government decisions in unitary states are made by the holder of power. Some characteristics of a unitary system are that states are not allowed to withdraw from the central government, states are not allowed to pass any legislation that appears opposing to public policy or the rules of the union government, rules created by the legislative assembly of the state are limited to the authority of the state, and rules created by legislation by the central government are valid to every state.
A federal system is a system where power is separated between a central government and various local governments. In America the U.S. constitution established Federalism which is a form of political association where lawmaking power is separated between a central government. In the United States it is separated amongst the national, state, and local governments. This system permits the government to have divided rights and authorities. Many countries such as Germany, Australia, Brazil, the United States, and Canada function using a federal government. Federal systems can sometimes be argumentative because it is uncertain how much power the government should be awarded. Federal systems permit powers that concern the entire nation. For example, in many countries that have a federal system, only the national government can announce war on another country. Switzerland had some controversy when setting up their direct democracy system. In Brazil, the federal system was passed by an official order then by a military coup.
The advantages of a unitary government is that it is able to deal with conditions that are nationwide and it is able to deal with matters that are left to state governments that are not able to resolve problems occurring in their nation. Under a unitary system, states are permitted powers granted only by the central government and the people obtain power only from the central government. One of the greatest advantages of a unitary system is that the rules that are created by the central government are viewed positively and are efficiently implemented by the people of the state government; this diminishes the workload of the central government. There is also much respect for common law that has been created by the central government which makes the legal system obvious and almost foolproof. In a unitary system there is also a better tax handling abilities and manage of government. There is also a smaller government. The disadvantages of a unitary government are that there is a slow implementation of national policies because there are so many to make. There are numerous diverse policies that need to be implemented by the state government, but are planned by the central government. The passing of new policies is hard and much study has to be implemented by legislators to determine whether the new law is opposing to the current laws central or state government. ‘One of the imminent risks of a unitary system is the social phenomenon of regionalism’often such regionalism results into friction between two states’ (Scholasticus K Pars.2). In a unitary government there are single, legislative and executive offices and slow government replies. It also losses track of local issues at times. It governs too big of an area and there is no balance of power.
The advantages of a federal government are that the laws are passed in one authority and it’s a strong centralized government and the uniform currency system is simple to generate and manage. The immigration policies are written and enforced, the military is more dominant and trade unions achieve international respect, unlike the trade agreements under the anti-federalist Articles of Confederation. A federal government also has several points of access, it frequently checks on federal power. Some of the disadvantages of a federal system are the uneven distribution of capital, wealth and want for services. Arguments may happen between the government. Individual states lose their individuality under the name of United States. Many also believe the three branches of government under a federal system do not work as well together as they would under a unitary system.
Great Britain has a unitary government that has regional and local governments which gain their power from the central government. Great Britain is holding on all public agencies through Acts of Parliament and regulations set up in Whitehall. Turning good intentions into a program takes time and money. Running the Whitehall obstacle race is the first step in intra-governmental politics. Countries like Britain, Japan, Belgium, Bolivia, France, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, and Russia choose to be unitary because the government wants power. A unitary government is constantly poking its nose around in other countries business because they want power. Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy and a Parliamentary Democracy. The descriptions of a government often start with its constitution. England has never had a written constitution. Great Britain can be altered by majority vote in Parliament or by the government of the day that decides to take action in an unparalleled way. In Great Britain there is a queen, a Prime Minister, and two houses of Parliament: the House of Lords and House of Commons. Citizens elect a party into power then the head of the biggest party becomes the Prime Minister. Parliament controls supreme Legislative power to make laws. Great Britain’s government does not follow a written constitution; it rules partially by common laws and practice and by statutes. Great Britain has been operating with a unitary system for quite some time and it seems to work well for the state.
Japan operates with a unitary system. For example, police and school matters are supervised by administrative boards. ‘Borrowing by local governments must be approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is the national agency that oversees local governments’ (U.S. Department of State). Japan’s system of government consists of Parliamentary, bicameral, and nonfederal. It is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. The Japanese parliament is the Diet, which contains two Houses: the House of Representative and the House of Councilors. Most of the power in the Diet set with the lower house. The lower house decides the prime minister and has power of the budgeting process. The Diet is bicameral and a bill can only become a law when it is passed by both chambers.
Under the Fifth Republic, France is a unitary system, with both a President and a Prime Minister. It is composed of two houses: National Assembly and the Senate. ‘The Legislative branch is broken up into a National Assembly, voted in by the populace, and a Senate, appointed by an electoral college’ (S.E. Smith Pars. 2). The Judicial branch is complicated, and it contains a Court of Cassation that serves as ‘the court of last resort and a Council of State’ to provide judicial review and understand laws.
The United States federal system is based on the U.S. constitution. Any authority not specified in the constitution is set aside for the people or states. The constitution clarifies what the federal government is permitted to do. The separation of powers and a series of checks and balances were built into the constitution in order to stop a person or group from becoming too powerful. The three branches of government in the U.S. are legislative, executive, and judicial. In the U.S. the constitution authorizes power to the Congress to make laws for the country. The constitution also gives the President the decision-making role to implement the laws of the United States. In the U.S. the federal government can only do things that the constitution permits it to do. Therefore, the Federal government’s power is balanced beside the privileges and powers of the states and the people. If the federal government wants to gain more power, it has to alter the constitution. The checks and balances prevent dictatorship and the people have power in the government of the U.S. The federal government is in charge of setting any arguments between states. It is also in charge of the army and foreign affairs as well as issuing currency and organizing a postal service. Having these provided by a single central government reduces the amount of tax U.S. citizens have to pay.
Germany is a federal republic and a democracy that is controlled by a representative parliament. ‘The Federal Government, based in Berlin, consists of the Federal Chancellor and the Cabinet of Federal Ministers’ (DAFT). Federal elections are taken place every four years and there are sixteen state governments and many local government communes. Every four years state elections are held and every state has its own constitution and state parliament. The federal system consists of two chambers: The German Bundesrat which consists of representatives from the federal state governments and the German Bundestag, which’s role is to represent state interests. The President of this chamber has the second main office of state in Germany, following the Federal President.
Basic law is used as an alternative way of saying constitution. The Basic Law combines the legislative process to the constitutional order and combines state management to maintain the law. Section 1 of the Basic Law is important; it states that admiration for human dignity is the main significance of the constitution: ‘Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority’ (Facts about Germany). Some other rights it assures are the freedom to perform within the law, equality prior to the law, freedom of the press and media, freedom of participation, and defense of the family. The Basic Law sets down representative democracy as a form of leadership it also decides whether Germany is a constitutional state. The Basic Law classifies Germany as a Welfare state which wants the system to protect their people so that they are guaranteed happiness in case of unemployment, illness, disability, or old age. A characteristic of the Basic Law is the ‘eternal character’ of governing constitutional rules. The Basic law states that it is the duty of the political parties to contribute in ‘political will formation by the people.’ ‘Putting forward candidates for political office and the organization of election campaigns both have the status of constitutional tasks’ (Facts about Germany). A political party’s inner organization must obey self-governing values and every party is required to agree to the structure and values of the democratic state. When elections fail, there is a loss of members, or trouble with workers and other issues the political parties takes full responsibility. In post WWII, the Basic Law gave liberty and stability.
Some of the specific goals of the Basic Law are: to expand a stable and democratic political system, to reconstruct a federal structure of government, to preserve some historical endurance in the parliamentary system, to prevent the institutional flaws that were a cause of the collapse of the Weimar democracy and to set up institutional limits on radical and anti-system forces.
The federal government of Germany’s purpose is based on three principles that are based on the Basic Law. The three principles are Chancellor Principle, Ministerial autonomy, and Cabinet principle. Basic Law transformed the federal president office into a ceremonial one.
The goals of Basic Laws for the electoral system are: to create a proportional representation system, a single-member system to be used to avoid division of the Weimar party system and to guarantee responsibility among electoral districts and its representative.
The Basic Law in Germany refers to political parties. It promises their rightfulness and their right to exist if they consent to the principles of a self-governing government. In Basic Law there are main institutions of representative democracy and there are no direct primaries. Also educational function of parties exists; nominees are only representatives of a party, and parties form government and act as actors inside the Bundestag. The Basic law appoints to the state governments administrative duty for most domestic policies. Under Judicial Review the Constitutional Court can assess the ‘constitutionality of legislation and can void laws that violate the provisions of the Basic Law.’
The United States Constitution was written in Philadelphia in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention and then ratified by the thirteen states. In Philadelphia, the U.S. Constitution was produced by a group of delegates from twelve of the thirteen states. The first three words in the U.S. constitution are ‘We the People’ which is meant to imply that the U.S. government is there to serve its people. The U.S. constitution explains the three main branches of the Federal Government and their legal authority. It also explains the basic rights of United States citizens. The U.S. constitution is the oldest Federal constitution. It informs the powers of diverse parts of the government. It also put restrictions on powers so that the government does not get out of control.
The constitution is divided into a Preamble, which is an introduction that tells the purpose and goals of the U.S. constitution, and it is divided into seven Articles. At the meeting in Philadelphia the delegates decided to adopt an idea called federalism where powers of government are shared between state and nation levels. The constitution gives the national level of government all the responsibility for the nation’s ‘foreign policy, the military, the money system, and laws dealing with trades across state lines.’ The responsibilities of the state level have to do with ‘school, public health and safety, criminal laws, marriage laws, roads and highways.’ Separation of Powers helped stop the risk of placing too much power in one area. It also gave each branch of government specific powers to stop unlawful actions by the other branches. This created a system known as Checks and Balances.
The president can veto legislative acts, but Congress has the power to override presidential vetoes by a two-thirds vote of both houses: House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress also has the power to remove a president from position if certain crimes occur. The Bill of Rights, in 1791 was the first ten amendments to the constitution. It helped create rights that all citizens were entitled to.
The differences between Germany’s basic law and the United States constitution are that ‘The American constitution has been altered only twenty-seven times during the 222 years of its existence, while, in its sixty-first year, the Basic Law has already been scheduled for its fifty-fifth change’ (Notre Dame News). Altering the Constitution in the United States is much higher, because it needs three-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate also three-thirds of individual state legislatures must agree. Many Germans believe that the U.S. Constitution fails to appropriately define presidential and congressional power in the field of foreign and military affairs. They also believe that there are various issues with the separation of powers in the United States.