Unitary state
Overview
 
A unitary state is a state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 governed as one single unit in which the central government
Central government
A central government also known as a national government, union government and in federal states, the federal government, is the government at the level of the nation-state. The structure of central governments varies from institution to institution...

 is supreme and any administrative division
Administrative division
An administrative division, subnational entity, or country subdivision is a portion of a country or other political division, established for the purpose of government. Administrative divisions are each granted a certain degree of autonomy, and are required to manage themselves through their own...

s (subnational units) exercise only powers that their central government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 chooses to delegate. Many states in the world have a unitary system of government
Form of government
A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized. Synonyms include "regime type" and "system of government".-Empirical and conceptual problems:...

.

Unitary states are contrasted with federal states
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 (federations):
  • In a unitary state, subnational units are created and abolished and their powers may be broadened and narrowed, by the central government.
Encyclopedia
A unitary state is a state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 governed as one single unit in which the central government
Central government
A central government also known as a national government, union government and in federal states, the federal government, is the government at the level of the nation-state. The structure of central governments varies from institution to institution...

 is supreme and any administrative division
Administrative division
An administrative division, subnational entity, or country subdivision is a portion of a country or other political division, established for the purpose of government. Administrative divisions are each granted a certain degree of autonomy, and are required to manage themselves through their own...

s (subnational units) exercise only powers that their central government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 chooses to delegate. Many states in the world have a unitary system of government
Form of government
A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized. Synonyms include "regime type" and "system of government".-Empirical and conceptual problems:...

.

Unitary states are contrasted with federal states
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 (federations):
  • In a unitary state, subnational units are created and abolished and their powers may be broadened and narrowed, by the central government. Although political power
    Political power
    Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

     in unitary states may be delegated through devolution
    Devolution
    Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

     to local government
    Local government
    Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

     by statute
    Statute
    A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

    , the central government remains supreme; it may abrogate the acts of devolved governments or curtail their powers.
    • The United Kingdom
      United Kingdom
      The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

       is an example of a unitary state. Scotland
      Scotland
      Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

      , Wales
      Wales
      Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

      , and Northern Ireland
      Northern Ireland
      Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

       which, along with England
      England
      England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

       are the four constituent
      Constituent country
      Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts in which a country makes up a part of a larger entity. The term constituent country does not have any defined legal meaning, and is used simply to refer to a country which is a part Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts...

       countries of the United Kingdom
      Countries of the United Kingdom
      Countries of the United Kingdom is a term used to describe England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These four countries together form the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is also described as a country. The alternative terms, constituent...

      , have a degree of autonomous devolved power – the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament
      Scottish Parliament
      The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

       in Scotland, the Welsh Government and National Assembly for Wales
      National Assembly for Wales
      The National Assembly for Wales is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales. The Assembly comprises 60 members, who are known as Assembly Members, or AMs...

       in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Executive
      Northern Ireland Executive
      The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is answerable to the Assembly and was established according to the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement...

       and Northern Ireland Assembly
      Northern Ireland Assembly
      The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

       in Northern Ireland. But such devolved power is only delegated by Britain's central government, more specifically by the Parliament of the United Kingdom
      Parliament of the United Kingdom
      The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

      , which is supreme under the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy
      Parliamentary sovereignty
      Parliamentary sovereignty is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. In the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, a legislative body has absolute sovereignty, meaning it is supreme to all other government institutions—including any executive or judicial bodies...

      . Further, the devolved governments cannot challenge the constitutionality
      Constitution of the United Kingdom
      The constitution of the United Kingdom is the set of laws and principles under which the United Kingdom is governed.Unlike many other nations, the UK has no single core constitutional document. In this sense, it is said not to have a written constitution but an uncodified one...

       of acts of Parliament
      Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom
      An Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom is a type of legislation called primary legislation. These Acts are passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster, or by the Scottish Parliament at Edinburgh....

      , and the powers of the devolved governments can be revoked or reduced by the central government (the Parliament with a government comprising the Cabinet
      Cabinet of the United Kingdom
      The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

      , headed by the Prime Minister
      Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
      The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

      ). For example, the Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended four times, with its powers reverting to the central government's Northern Ireland Office
      Northern Ireland Office
      The Northern Ireland Office is a United Kingdom government department responsible for Northern Ireland affairs. The NIO is led by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and is based in Northern Ireland at Stormont House.-Role:...

      .
    • Ukraine
      Ukraine
      Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

       is another example of a unitary state (see Constitution of Ukraine
      Constitution of Ukraine
      The Constitution of Ukraine is the nation's fundamental law. The constitution was adopted and ratified at the 5th session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 28 June 1996. The constitution was passed with 315 ayes out of 450 votes possible .Other laws and other normative legal acts of Ukraine...

      ). Republic of Crimea
      Crimea
      Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

       within the country has a degree of autonomy and is governed by its Cabinet of Ministers and legislative Council. In early 1990s the republic also had a post of president which was terminated due to separatist tendencies intended to transfer Crimea to Russia.
  • In federal
    Federalism
    Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

     states, by contrast, states or other subnational units share sovereignty with the central government, and the states comprising the federation have an existence and power functions that cannot be unilaterally changed by the central government. In some cases, such as in the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    , it is the federal government that has only those powers expressly delegated to it.
    • An example of a federal state is the United States
      United States
      The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

      ; under the United States Constitution
      United States Constitution
      The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

      , power is shared between the federal government of the United States
      Federal government of the United States
      The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

       and the U.S. state
      U.S. state
      A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

      s. Many federal states also have unitary lower levels of government; while the United States is federal, the states themselves are unitary under Dillon's Rule – counties and municipalities
      Municipality
      A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...

       have only the authority granted to them by the state governments
      State governments of the United States
      State governments in the United States are those republics formed by citizens in the jurisdiction thereof as provided by the United States Constitution; with the original 13 States forming the first Articles of Confederation, and later the aforementioned Constitution. Within the U.S...

       by the state constitution or legislative act.


Devolution (like federation) may be symmetrical, with all subnational units having the same powers and status, or asymmetric, with regions varying in their powers and status.

List of unitary states

See also

  • Federal state
    Federation
    A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

  • Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics
    Constitutional economics is a research program in economics and constitutionalism that has been described as extending beyond the definition of 'the economic analysis of constitutional law' in explaining the choice "of alternative sets of legal-institutional-constitutional rules that constrain the...

  • Political economy
    Political economy
    Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

  • Rule according to higher law
    Rule according to higher law
    The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice...

  • Regional state
    Regional state
    In political geography, a regional state is a state more centralized than a federation, but less centralized than an unitary state. Regional states include federations in which power has become more centralized, and unitary states in which some power has been devolved to regional governments...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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