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The Key Features of Federalism



1. There are two or more levels (or tiers) of government.

2. Citizens are governed by the different tiers of government, but each tier has its own jurisdiction in specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration.

3. The jurisdictions of the respective levels or tiers of government are specified in the constitution. So the existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.


4. One level of the government cannot unilaterally change the fundamental provisions of the constitution. Such changes require the consent of both the levels of government.

5. The power to interpret the constitution and the powers of different levels of government are given to the courts. If disputes arise between different levels of government in the exercise of their respective powers, the highest court acts as an umpire.

6. To ensure its financial autonomy, sources of revenue are clearly specified, for each level of the government.

7. To safeguard and promote unity of the country are the two main objectives of a Federal System. These two aspects are very important for the practice of Federalism. The governments at different levels should agree to some rules of power sharing. There should be trust between the two governemnt that the rules will be abided by.

An ideal federal system has both aspects; mutual trust and agreement to live together.

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