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What is the difference between unitary and federal systems?

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riddhi23 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted November 15, 2011 at 6:08 AM via web

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What is the difference between unitary and federal systems?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 15, 2011 at 6:17 AM (Answer #1)

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In a unitary system, the central government has all the power.  In a federal system, some powers are given to the central government and other powers are given to the lower levels of government (provinces or states).

In a unitary system, the central government gets to decide what powers, if any, to give to the lower levels of government.  Even if it gives them some power, it can always take it back.  The lower levels of government have no right to their power.

In a federal system, they have a right to their powers.  The central government cannot just take those powers away.  Typically, as with the US, there is a written constitution that tells what powers go to the national government and what powers go to the lower levels.

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