What is Federalism?

In federal countries, power is shared between a government for the whole country – which is sometimes called federal government, national government or Union government – and governments for federal units within this country. Federal units are also often called provinces, states or cantons. Federalism means the constitution divides power between at least two levels or orders of government.Both orders have a direct electoral relationship with their citizens. In some federal countries, people also elect their local government, which may also be constitutionally recognized.

The federal government is responsible for common purposes for the whole country such as national defence, currency and foreign relations. The states or provinces are empowered to act within their areas of responsibility as it is described in the constitution. The federal power cannot take away the power of the federal units.

Watch this Forum of Federations animated video called, “What is Federalism?” to get a basic understanding of Federalism.

Click the blue button below to learn more about Federalism including which countries are federal and benefits of federalism

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Thematic Programs concern the development and mobilization of knowledge on federal and multilevel governance systems.

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Country/Regional Programs are demand-led initiatives which respond to the needs of stakeholders and donors concerning the creation, development, and reform of governance systems in emerging federal and multilevel countries.

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IPSA 2024

The Forum was delighted to connect with multilevel governance researchers from across the globe at the International Political Science Association’s 75th Anniversary Conference last week in Montreal! The Forum’s panel, “Global Governance Challenges in the 21st Century: Learning from Comparative Practice in Multilevel Countries” was chaired Eric Champagne from the University of Ottawa’s Centre on Governance and featured insights from Rupak Chattopadhyay, Liam Whittington and Jamie M. Thomas on the Forum’s work on fragility, climate change, and digitalization. Thank you to the organizers and participants for their support!
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IPSA 2024

The Forum was delighted to connect with multilevel governance researchers from across the globe at the International Political Science Association’s 75th Anniversary Conference last week in Montreal! The Forum’s panel, “Global Governance Challenges in the 21st Century: Learning from Comparative Practice in Multilevel Countries” was chaired Eric Champagne from the University of Ottawa’s Centre on Governance and featured insights from Rupak Chattopadhyay, Liam Whittington and Jamie M. Thomas on the Forum’s work on fragility, climate change, and digitalization. Thank you to the organizers and participants for their support!Image attachmentImage attachment

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I am from Somalia, and I am interested in, delve into, and explore federalism's governance. Somalia has adopted and applied federalism structures and governance systems, which have been tricky and complex. It has been depicting a centralistic mindset, a lack of knowledge about federalism, and a shortage of resources for federal members to feel autonomous in their internal affairs, which further undermines forward-looking federalism governance.

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