A federation in this sense involves a territorial division of power between constituent units—sometimes called ‘provinces’, ‘cantons’, possibly ‘cities’, or confusingly ‘states’—and a common government.
In symmetric (con)federations the member units have the same bundles of powers, while in asymmetric (con)federations such as Russia, Canada, the European Union, Spain, or India the bundles may be different among member units
A federal political order is here taken to be “the genus of political organization that is marked by the combination of shared rule and self-rule”
centralization often occurs owing to the constitutional interpretations by a federal level court in charge of settling conflicts
In contrast, ‘confederation’ has come to mean a political order with a weaker center than a federation, often dependent on the constituent units (Watts 1998, 121)
A helpful categorisation among federal arrangements concerns the relationship between the central unit, member units and individuals.
Such coming together federal political orders
Holding together federal political orders develop from unitary states,
Such federal political orders often grant some member units particular domains of sovereignty e.g. over language and cultural rights in an asymmetric federation, while maintaining broad scope of action for the central government and majorities. Examples include India, Belgium and Spain.
allowing them some cultural and “personal” autonomy without territorial self rule (Bauer 1903; Renner 1907; Bottomore and Goode 1978; cf. Tamir 1993 and Nimni 2005).
Consociations consist of somewhat insulated groups in member units who in addition are represented in central institutions often governing by unanimity rather than by majority (Lijphart 1977).
A federation is one species of such a federal order; other species are unions, confederations, leagues and decentralised unions—and hybrids such as the present European Union (Elazar 1987, Watts 1998)
division of power is typically entrenched in a constitution which neither a member unit nor the common government can alter unilaterally.
3. Reasons for Federalism
credible commitments, certain kinds of coordination to secure ‘public goods’ of various sorts, and to control externalities that affect other parties
foster peace, in the senses of preventing wars and preventing fears of war, in several ways.
promote economic prosperity by removing internal barriers to trade, through economies of scale, by establishing and maintaining inter-member unit trade agreement
may protect individuals against political authorities by constraining state sovereignty, placing some powers with the center.
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