Federalism vs. Devolution
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In Wales the vote was only very narrowly passed as a yes , so the Welsh have minor powers on controlling education, housing and councils. It is key to note that they do not have power to substantially alter taxes, making it a very weak devolved asseCHNKWKS
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When comparing the systems of government in the UK and USA, the two key types are the unitary state and federalism . The current system in the UK is a unitary state, whereby power is centralised and fused. Sub national and regional assemblies do exist in this unitary state, but the powers given to them can be taken away at the government s discretion. The USA has a federal system, where the power is divided between a central government and then 50 further state governments. An interesting aspect of federalism in the US is the issue of implied powers ; powers not explicitly stated in the Constitution given to the federal government are left to the state to be decided upon, such as drinking ages and so forth.
The history of these to governmental systems are key in understanding how they are structured and enforced. In the case of the USA, the Founding Fathers were fearful of a tyrannical ruler living and dictating from the centre of a strong government; the constitutional compromise of federalism resulted in the government being strong enough to resist attack. Other gradual changes that led to federalism were things such as the growth in population and westward expansion across the continent. Furthermore, improvements in communication and key issues being foreign policy and world power became more central when forming the government. Federalism in the US itself has evolved over time, beginning with Dual Federalism (roughly 1780 s to 1920 s) whereby the power between the state and federal governments was equal and balanced. Following this was Cooperative Federalism, running until the 1960 s, a time when the federal governmbly. However, there was a strong majority for yes in the Scottish referendum, giving their assembly a far greater mandate and control over some of their taxes. In 1998 Northern Ireland voted in favour of having their own assembly and The Good Friday Agreement was signed, and it was agreed that power should be shared between the Unionists and the Republicans. One of the factors in the agreement was that the Irish Republican Army were to decommission all weapons, but when it was found that this had not been done the agreement was suspended and the devolved power was taken away. The fundamental point of this, and a key strength of the Unitary State is that despite the issue of the system becoming more federal, the power issued by the central government to devolved assemblies can be taken away, unlike state and federal relationships.
There are several negative consequences with federalism, beginning with the massive variation there can be in state laws, over key issues such as crime and punishment, drinking ages and marriage laws. Secondly, it creates a complex legal system, with both national and state courts each with their own agenda. Furthermore, each state has its own constitutions and tax systems. All elections held in the US are state based, and subjected to state laws making the parties state based and have massive regional diversities. The consequences of the devolved assemblies in the UK is varying; it would appear at first that federalism was creeping into the UK in the assemblies but the example of the suspension of The Good Friday Agreement reminds of how strong a power the centralised government holds. However, the European Parliament does detract from the unitary state s parliamentary sovereignty, as European law is higher than any other law in Europe.
The statement claiming that the devolution of power in the UK has brought it closer to US style federalism could be considered accurate when considering the powers that Scottish and Welsh assemblies have, striking similarities to the state and national power sharing in America. Furthermore, it could also be considered accurate when the European Parliament is taken into account, as the power that this has is greater than that of the central government in the UK. However, the unitary state means that the central government still has the power to take away devolved powers at its discretion, reducing the accuracy of the statement saying it is becoming more federal.
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