US Constitution
International Government

What are the advantages and disadvantages of unitary system of government?


User Avatar
Wiki User

Apex- It maximizes the political freedoms guaranteed to individual state governments.

A unitary state is a sovereign state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions (subnational units) exercise only powers that the central government chooses to delegate. Most states in the world have a unitary system of government.

Advantages: Single, all decisive legislative and/or executive offices. Usually more efficient use of tax dollars (fewer people trying to get in on the money). Simpler management of an economy. Smaller government.

Disadvantages: Single, all decisive legislative and/or executive offices. Little in the way of power balances. Slow government response (for instance no state national guard that could be dispatched in an emergency, troops would have to be mobilized from national authority). Easily looses track of local issues. Is an incredibly divisive form of government (everyone is forced to compete with everyone else for priority). Since its trying to take the place of federal and state governments, unitary governments typical get bloated and bogged down. Huge bureaucracy (yes even larger that what this country has).

There's two types, the first is the traditional unitary government. Simply all the authority resides at a national level.

The second is a "devolved government." There is more local authority, however the federal authority has the right to override local decisions. This allows local authorities to handle more of the mundane duties. Results in a smaller federal government. The UK would be an example of a devolved government, minus the Queen.

A Unitary state is exactly the opposite of a federal state ... I will here list the advantages and disadvantages of a federal:

Advantages of a federal state compared with a unitary state

Distribution of power

In a federation, the classical horizontal division of the powers of state (legislative - executive - judicial) is complemented by a vertical division of power between the state as a whole and the individual member states. Distribution of power ensures that there are checks and balances, helping to prevent abuse of power.

More democracy

Sub-division into smaller political units makes state action clearer and more comprehensible, thus fostering active participation and co-deter-mination. Furthermore, each citizen has two opportunities to exer-ci-se the most fundamental democratic right, namely the right to vote; in a federation, elections are held both for the national parliament and for the parliaments of the individual member states.

Leadership opportunities

Political parties have more opportunities to hold power and competition between parties is encouraged, as they can exercise political responsibility in the individual member states even if they are in the minority nationally. This gives parties an opportunity to test and prove their capacity for leadership by offering them a chance to demonstrate how they perform once elected.

Proximity to tasks

In a federation, public bodies are closer to regional problems than in a unitary state. There are no remote, forgotten provinces.

Citizen-oriented action

Citizens enjoy more rapid access to the public authorities. It is easier for them to contact politicians and the public authorities than in a unitary state with a remote and anonymous centre.


The states that make up a federation are always competing with one another, making them more vital. Exchange of experience fosters progress and helps to avoid undesirable developments at the national level.


Mutual control, reciprocal consideration and the need to seek com--pro-mi-ses prevent or at least hinder extreme positions. Federalism has a balan-cing and thus a stabilising effect.


The division of the country into federal states or Länder guarantees that many economic, political and cultural centres develop. This provides a more favourable environment to preserve and develop specific regional, historical, economic and cultural features. This diversity can lead to more freedom.

Disadvantages of a federal state compared with a unitary state

Lack of uniformity

The federal states' autonomy necessarily means there are differences between the states. Diversity is the opposite of uniformity. This can result in some difficulties, for instance, for school children if a family moves from one federal state to another.


As decisions are taken in many different centres in the Federal Republic,

and power is shared between the Federation and the Länder, it is essential that the various tiers of government co-operate and show consideration for each other. The different bodies that hold power exercise mutual oversight and function in a checks-and-balances system. This interweaving of responsibility is complex and sometimes hard for citizens to understand


The parliaments, governments and administrations of the Federation and the federal states have to wait for initiatives, decisions or consent from each other and engage in lengthy negotiations in order to arrive at joint solutions. This can be a time-consuming process.


Running individual parliaments, governments and administrations in the Federation and the Länder is considered, on the whole, to be more expensive than maintaining the corresponding bodies in a unitary state. It is debatable whether this is indeed a valid assumption, because Länder institutions could not simply be closed down in a unitary state, but would have to be replaced. Federal institutions would certainly have to be expanded and mammoth centralised bodies might not ultimately prove to be cheaper.