FORMS OF GOVERNMENT BY ANSHIKA JAIN

WHAT IS GOVERNMENT?

 Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy of the state. A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized (synonyms include “regime type” and “system of government”). Governments consist of two broad interplaying elements that generally determine how a government is coded: the power source and the power structure. Power source refers to the individuals and institutions that exercise governing authority over a state and the means by which they obtain their power, while power structure refers to the system by which they are organized.

In the case of its broad definition, government normally consists of legislators, administrators, and arbitrators. Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy of the state. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments. Each successive government is composed of a body of individuals who control and exercise control over political decision-making. Their function is to make and enforce laws and arbitrate conflicts. In some societies, this group is often a self-perpetuating or hereditary class. In other societies, such as democracies, the political roles remain, but there is frequent turnover of the people actually filling the positions.

DIFFERENT FORMS OF GOVERNMENT

 UNITARY

Unitary Form of Government

A unitary form of Government is a converse of the federation and is a system in which all powers are centralized in the hands of a central government. A single central government controls the whole state with full might. Although the state is divided into provinces and other units these divisions are administrative in their nature. These sub-divisions completely work under the supervision and control of the central government. In a unitary form of government, the political authority is centralized. Unitary State is useful in those states where there are no strong nationalities or in the small states.

Characteristics of Unitary Form of Government

Following are the features, attributes, and characteristics of a unitary state for government

Centralization of Powers

In a unitary system, all powers are centralized in the hands of the central government and the only center is the reservoir of all state powers. In this system, there is no province or provincial government and the constitution empowers the central government to legislate, execute and adjudicate with full might. There is no other institution to share governmental powers with the central government. On one side, the central government has full powers to rule without any external pressure and runs the state administration with confidence without any fear and terror. On the other hand, the rulers exercise their powers in an absolute way without any check. Centralization of powers is itself an administrative problem. Although in many unitary States, there is a local government system arrangement powers are delegated to these units with strict central control or supervision.

Single and Simple Government

Unitary form of government is very simple system. With the exception of Britain, there are neither provincial assemblies and executives nor the upper chambers at the center. There is a single central government at the center. There is a unicameral legislature popularly elected. Central legislature is to legislate, executive to execute and judiciary to adjudicate without any share. Their expenses are less and state is run with a unified command. Upper chambers are usually expensive and’ weak states cannot afford it expenses. So, it is a simple and understandable system. The common citizens easily, understand its structure and powers.

Uniformity of Laws

Another characteristic of unitary form of government, that laws of unitary system, unlike federation, are uniform because laws are made only by a single central government for the whole state. Laws made by the centre are equally enforced in the rest of the state without any territorial distinction while in federation nature of law varies from province to province. So, uniformity of laws in the unitary set-up is according to the principles of justice and nature of human beings. In federation, sometimes sharp contrast is seen in the laws of the same nature, which complicates the situation.

No Distribution of Powers

Constitutions of the federal form of state distribute powers between the centre and the provinces. In unitary system, there is no any list of distribution of powers in the constitution. All powers belong to the central government. In this system government is not in the grip of powers distribution. It converts government attention on development because government is free of this headache.

Flexible Constitutions

The constitutions of the unitary states are ever flexible in nature. A rigid constitution is required only in federation in order to establish firm and safe relations between the centre and federating units. Constitution of unitary system has an advantage that it may be changed according to the needs of time and changing circumstances. A constitution is a document necessary to run a state according to the changing orientations. People’s desires change with the passage of time and constitutions are amended accordingly. Its flexibility paves way for its progressiveness. Constitutions of the unitary systems are evolutionary and may face any immediate situation.

Despotism Attribute Unitary State

It is one of the important characteristics of this system that it may become despotic when the rulers are not faithful and patriotic. All powers are in the control of the centre and there is no check upon the exercise of these unlimited powers. It becomes absolute and state powers may be abused. It lacks internal check system.

Responsibility

This system is more responsible than federation. It is an important principle of this form of state that responsibility is fixed in the defined institutions. Central legislature is responsible for legislation, executive for implementation and judiciary for adjudication. These institutions are accountable for their constitutional responsibilities and therefore they try their best to remain within the circle of the law of the land.

Local Government Institutions

In unitary form of government, it has been observed that powers are ill the grip of the urban bureaucracy and this government is often limited to cities only for government has no access to far and remote rural areas. To have access to rural areas, central government manipulates the affairs through local government institutions. Local government institutions are too strong and effective in this system for instance, local governments in China and Great Britain are too powerful. Powers are delegated to these institutions and financial support is provided to manage their affairs through elected local representatives within the guidelines of the central government.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 Federal Form of Government

The classification of governments into unitary and federal is based on the nature of relations between the national government and the regional governments. A federal government is one in which powers are divided between the national government and the regional governments by the Constitution itself and both operate in their respective jurisdictions independently. US, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Argentina have the federal form of government. In a federal model, the national government is known as the Federal government or the Central government or the Union government and the regional government is known as the state government or the provincial government.

Federal Features Of Indian Constitution

  1. Dual Government

The Indian Constitution establishes a dual polity consisting the Union at the Centre and the states at the periphery. Each is endowed with sovereign powers to be exercised in the field assigned to them respectively by the Constitution.

  1. Written Constitution

The articles of the Constitution are written and cannot be easily changed without due parliamentary approval.

  1. Division of Powers

The Constitution divided the powers between the Centre and the states in terms of the Union List, State List and Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule.

  1. Supremacy of the Constitution

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The laws are enacted by the Centre and the states must confirm to its provisions.

  1. Rigid Constitution

Amendment of the Constitution is by a procedure of 2/3rd majority in each of the house and laws cannot be easily changed by any ruling party.

  1. Independent Judiciary

The Judiciary is separated from the Executive and Legislature. The Judiciary given its national and state level jurisdictions, exercises Original, Appellate and Judicial Review functions. It functions independently of the Executive and Legislature.

  1. Bicameralism

It provides for a two-house legislature that has an Upper chamber and Lower chamber. With the Lower house having powers of enacting financial legislation.

Confederal Governments

 A confederal system sits at the other extreme in terms of centralization. A confederacy is a loose relationship among a number of smaller political units. The vast majority of political power rests with the local governments; the central federal government has very little power. Local governments have a great deal of freedom to act as they wish, but this freedom often leads to conflicts between states and the federal government. In some cases, a confederate government is little more than an alliance between independent states.

A confederation (also known as a confederacy) is a union of sovereign states, united for purposes of common action often in relation to other states. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the general government being required to provide support for all its members.

For Americans, the Confederate States of America—which governed the South during the Civil War—is the best-known example of a confederacy, but there have been others. In fact, the first government of the United States, created by the Articles of Confederation (finished in 1777), was this type of system. Today, Belgium is basically a confederacy between two largely independent states, Flanders in the north and Wallonia in the south.

A confederation is a system of government in which sovereign states delegate power to a central government for specific purposes. In 1981, Gambia and Senegal came together to form the Senegambian Confederation which later collapsed in 1989.

The nature of the relationship among the member states constituting a confederation varies considerably. Likewise, the relationship between the member states and the general government, and the distribution of powers among them is highly variable. Some looser confederations are similar to international organizations. Other confederations with stricter rules may resemble federal systems. Since the member states of a confederation retain their sovereignty, they have an implicit right of secession.

Under a confederal arrangement, in contrast with a federal one, the central authority is relatively weak. Decisions made by the general government in a unicameral legislature, a council of the member states, require subsequent implementation by the member states to take effect. They are therefore not laws acting directly upon the individual, but instead have more the character of inter-state agreements. Also, decision-making in the general government usually proceeds by consensus (unanimity) and not by majority, which makes for a slow and inefficient government. These problematic features, limiting the effectiveness of the union, mean that political pressure tends to build over time for the transition to a federal system of government, as happened in the American, Swiss, German and European cases of regional integration.

 

 

Features of Confederal Systems of Government

  • A confederation is made up of two or more independent states.
  • The component states are allowed to remain as separate international entities reserving for them the power to handle their own foreign policy.
  • The central government is usually weak while the component units are rather strong.
  • The confederal government depends upon the component states to contribute military resources to defend the confederation.
  • When it comes to power sharing, the component states are vested with exclusive powers while the residual powers are reserved for the central government.
  • In a confederation, the constitution allows for any of the component units to secede at any time if it so desires. This is unlike in the federal system of government where the right of secession is denied.
  • Citizens tend to be loyal to the component states rather than the central government.

PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT

 A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance of a state (or subordinate entity) where the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the confidence of the legislature, typically a parliament, and is also held accountable to that parliament. In a parliamentary system, the head of state is usually a person distinct from the head of government. This is in contrast to a presidential system, where the head of state often is also the head of government and, most importantly, where the executive does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature.

Countries with parliamentary democracies may be constitutional monarchies, where a monarch is the head of state while the head of government is almost always a member of parliament (such as DenmarkNorwayJapanMalaysiaSweden and the United Kingdom), or parliamentary republics, where a mostly ceremonial president is the head of state while the head of government is regularly from the legislature (such as IrelandGermanyIndiaItaly and Singapore). In a few parliamentary republics, such as BotswanaKiribati and South Africa, among some others, the head of government is also head of state, but is elected by and is answerable to parliament. In bicameral parliaments, the head of government is generally, though not always, a member of the lower house.

Parliamentarianism is the dominant form of government in Europe, with 32 of its 50 sovereign states being parliamentarian. It is also common in the Caribbean, being the form of government of 10 of its 13 island states, and in Oceania. Elsewhere in the world, parliamentary countries are less common, but they are distributed through all continents, most often in former colonies of the British Empire that subscribe to a particular brand of parliamentarianism known as the Westminster system.

 

Two types of parliamentary government are:

 

Westminster system

Consensus system

  • The Western European parliamentary model (e.g., Spain, Germany) tends to have a more consensual debating system and usually has semi-circular debating chambers. Consensus systems have more of a tendency to use proportional representationwith open party lists than the Westminster Model legislatures. The committees of these Parliaments tend to be more important than the plenary chamber. Some Western European countries’ parliaments (e.g., in the NetherlandsLuxembourg and Sweden) implement the principle of dualism as a form of separation of powers. In countries using this system, Members of Parliament have to resign their place in Parliament upon being appointed (or elected) minister. Ministers in those countries usually actively participate in parliamentary debates, but are not entitled to vote.

PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT

presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government (president) leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch. This head of government is in most cases also the head of state.

In presidential countries, the head of government is elected and is not responsible to the legislature, which cannot (usually) in normal circumstances dismiss it. Such dismissal is possible, however, in uncommon cases, often through impeachment.

The title “president” has persisted from a time when such person personally presided over the governing body, as with the President of the Continental Congress in the early United States, prior to the executive function being split into a separate branch of government.

A presidential system contrasts with a parliamentary system, where the head of government comes to power by gaining the confidence of an elected legislature. There are also hybrid systems such as the semi-presidential system, used in the former Weimar Republic and in France.

Countries that feature a presidential or semi-presidential system of government are not the exclusive users of the title of president. Heads of state of parliamentary republics, largely ceremonial in most cases, are called presidents. Dictators or leaders of one-party states, whether popularly elected or not, are also often called presidents.

Presidentialism is the dominant form of government in the mainland Americas, with 19 of its 22 sovereign states being presidential republics, the exceptions being CanadaBelize, and Suriname. It is also prevalent in Central and southern West Africa and in Central Asia. By contrast, there are very few presidential republics in Europe, with Belarus and Cyprus being the only examples. Oceania is the only continent that has no presidential republics.

 QUASI FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 Quasi-federalism means an intermediate form of state between a unitary state and a federation. It combines the features of a federal government and the features of a unitary government. India is regarded as a semi-federal state or a quasi-federal state as described by Prof. K.C. Where. The Supreme Court of India also describes it as a federal structure with a strong bias towards the Centre.

Quasi-federal nature of Indian Constitution

It has been the matter of debate among the scholars that whether the Constitution of India is completely federal or unitary in nature. But actually Indian constitution contains both features of a federal constitution and unitary constitution. But for the very clear picture of this conclusion first of all we have to know that what is the federal constitution and what is unitary constitution. What feature of Indian constitution makes it federal or what features makes it unitary.

In a federal set up there is a two tier of Government with well assigned powers and functions. The Central and the State governments work in coordination and at the same time act independently. The federal polity, in other words, provides a constitutional device for bringing unity in diversity and for the achievement of common national goals.

Prevention as well as amelioration of conflict of the interests of the Centre and the States is an integral part of federalism. This is the reason why the Indian federalism was devised with a strong Centre. The Constitution of India has adopted federal features; though it does not, in fact, claim that it establishes a federation. The question whether the Indian Constitution could be called a federal constitution troubled the minds of the members of the Constituent Assembly. This question cannot be answered without going into the meaning of federalism and the essential features that are evident in federal state.

CONCLUSION

 The governance debate involves a number of questions about the role of social actors in that process, government remains a central, if not the central actor, in the process. We do not say this simply because we are terribly old-fashioned neanderthals who will not admit that the world has changed. We know very well that the world of governing has changed, but there are empirical and normative realities that make us believe that we need to understand the institutions of government if we are to understand governance in a different forms of government.

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