Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Federalism is a concept that describes forms of government that are organized by a division of power and jurisdiction between the national and subnational governments (typically states or provinces) according to legal and constitutional prescriptions. Federalism embraces a variety of forms, and all federal states have two defining characteristics. First, there is a division or sharing of power among different levels of government. Second, more than one unit of government has responsibility for a citizen living in any part of the country. Federal states are the opposite of unitary states, in which all sovereign power rests in the national government and all other units of government are merely its subdivisions. Federalism is a much less common way of organizing governments than the unitary model, both historically and in the contemporary world. However, while there are fewer than 20 federal states in the world out of more than 200, they represent ...