What is a unitary system of government?
- A unitary system of government, or unitary state, is a sovereign state governed as a single entity. The central government is supreme, and the administrative divisions exercise only powers that the central government has delegated to them.
People also ask
Which countries have an unitary system of government?
How is an unitary system different from a federal one?
What are the pros and cons of an unitary government?
How does unitary government differ from a federal government?
Unitary-government meaning The definition of a unitary government or unitary state is a system of political organization with a central supreme government which holds the authority over and makes the decisions for subordinate local governments. An example of a unitary government is the United Kingdom overseeing Scotland.
In a unitary government, this relationship is largely one-sided, with the central government enjoying almost complete control over their smaller local government entities. In a unitary system,...
- 4 min
- Examples of Unitary States
- Unitary States vs. Federations
- Unitary States vs. Authoritarian States
- Pros and Cons
Of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, 165 are unitary states. The United Kingdom and France are two well-recognized examples.
The opposite of a unitary state is a federation. A federation is a constitutionally organized union or alliance of partially self-governing states or other regions under a central federal government. Unlike the largely powerless local governments in a unitary state, the states of a federation enjoy some degree of independence in their internal affairs. The US government structure is a good example of a federation. The U.S. Constitution establishes a system of federalism under which powers are shared between the central government in Washington, D.C., and the governments of the 50 individual states. The power-sharing system of federalism is defined in the 10th Amendmentto the Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” While the U.S. Constitution specifically reserves some powers for the federal government, other powers are granted to the collective st...
Unitary states should not be confused with authoritarian states. In an authoritarian state, all governing and political power is vested in a single individual leader or small, elite group of individuals. The leader or leaders of an authoritarian state are not chosen by the people, nor are they constitutionally responsible to the people. Authoritarian states rarely allow freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom to practice non-state approved religions. In addition, there are no provisions for protecting the rights of minorities. Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitleris typically cited as the prototypical authoritarian state; modern examples include Cuba, North Korea, and Iran.
The unitary state is the most common form of government in the world. This system of government has its benefits, but as with all schemes of dividing power between government and the people, it also has drawbacks.
- Centralization of Powers
- Single and Simple Government
- Uniformity of Laws
- No Distribution of Powers
- Flexible Constitutions
- Despotism Attribute Unitary State
- Local Government Institutions
In unitary system, all powers are centralized in the hands of the central government and only center is the reservoir of all state powers. In this system, there is no a province or provincial governments and constitution empower the central government to legislate, execute and adjudicate with full might. There is no any other institution to share governmental powers with the central government. On one side, 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 absolute way without any check. Centralization of powers is itself an administrative problem. Although in many unitary States, there is local government system arrangement but powers are delegated to these units with strict central control or supervision.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Unitary state, a system of political organization in which most or all of the governing power resides in a centralized government, in contrast to a federal state. A brief treatment of the unitary state follows. For additional discussion, see Political system: Unitary nation-states. Read More on This Topic
A unitary system is a form of government in which authority is concentrated in the central government. Local governments, such as those of regions or cities, are under the control of that central authority. They have only those powers granted to them, and the central government may alter or abolish local authorities at will.
Unitary System Definition of Unitary System in relation to American Federalism In this context, a concept of Unitary System to be used is: Constitutional arrangement that concentrates power in a central government. This is an advance summary of a forthcoming entry in the Encyclopedia of Law.