International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Federalism: The Concept, Development and Future
Prof. Dr. Dragan Bataveljic

Federalism appears as a figure already in ancient times, when alliances had existed by which cities and states were connected with each other for the purpose of defending themselves against the conquest ambitions of Macedonia, Rome and Sparta1. In addition to that, in the Middle Ages also confederations were established, thus alliances of independent states or, as they are mostly considered, only reinforced alliances of states by which however no "super-state" ("superior state") was created. By a confederation, merely an international association of states is being established, representing a contractual relationship between independent and sovereign states. Even upon establishment of a confederation, these states keep their own sovereignty. Federalism is an idea, movement and a form of state organizing. Unlike a confederation, a federation or federal state is an institutional union. A union of this kind entails formation of a new state which differs from its Member States. In a federation, a superior state exists, having its legislative, executive and judicial power. In contrast to a confederation, a federation is neither an international union, nor a structure of international law, the constitutive act of which is an international treaty. On the contrary, a federation is a structure of national law being based on the constitution, i.e. constitutional law. In a federation, "primacy" belongs to the federal constitution, particularly as the Member States, when adopting their constitutions, decide on the basic principles of the federal constitution. According to this, sovereignty belongs to the central government, but not to the Member States, while a confederation, by contrast, does not have any state subjectivity, and the federation is a sovereign state, respectively, whereas in a confederation, the sovereign states are comprised in it. Hence, a federation is a federal state, a confederation, however, an association of states, or in other words, a federation is a state, whereas in case of a confederation, a union of states is concerned. If one takes into consideration that a federation, in comparison to confederations, has proven to be the form of government which is by far more vital and more solid, today the largest and most populated countries of the world are organized as federations (for instance, the USA, Canada, the Russian Federation, India, Brazil, Nigeria). Considering this background, a confederation in practice has turned out as a loose formation, and the best known confederations at that time were the Swiss, American and German confederation. However, they all belong to the past.

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