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Political concept / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Federalism is a mode of government that combines a general government (the central or "federal" government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial, or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system, dividing the powers between the two. Johannes Althusius is considered the father of modern federalism along with Montesquieu. He notably exposed the bases of this political philosophy in Politica Methodice Digesta, Atque Exemplis Sacris et Profanis Illustrata (1603). Montesquieu sees in the Spirit of Laws, examples of federalist republics in corporate societies, the polis bringing together villages, and the cities themselves forming confederations.[1] Federalism in the modern era was first adopted in the unions of states during the Old Swiss Confederacy.[2]


Federalism differs from confederalism, in which the general level of government is subordinate to the regional level, and from devolution within a unitary state, in which the regional level of government is subordinate to the general level.[3] It represents the central form in the pathway of regional integration or separation, bounded on the less integrated side by confederalism and on the more integrated side by devolution within a unitary state.[4][5]

Examples of a federation or federal province or state include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Iraq, Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Some characterize the European Union as the pioneering example of federalism in a multi-state setting, in a concept termed the "federal union of states".[6][7]

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