What are the advantages and disadvantages of unitary system of government? A unitary system of government is a form of government in which political powers of the state are concentrated in the hands of one government or authority. In other words, in a unitary system of government there is no power sharing between the central government and its component units. The central government is therefore charged with the responsibility of taking care of the whole state without delegating its powers to any other government.
In a unitary system, the unitary constitution is used because it supports the non-delegation of government powers. This may seem to be a good idea in some instances, but in some cases, it can be disadvantageous. Countries like Italy, Ghana, Britain, Gambia, Ethiopia etc practice unitary system because it works well for them. However, the system has been argued to be bad for some states. This article therefore discusses the advantages and disadvantages of unitary system of government.
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Features of unitary system of governmen
1. Governmental powers of the state are vested in the hands of a single central government, which is the central government.
2. It is perfect when practiced with a unitary constitution. That is, a constitution that expressly provides for unitary system of government.
3. Citizens owe allegiance to only the central government because it is the only existing government.
4. Unitary system of government tends to solve the usual conflict between the federal government and state government because only one government exist.
5. The central government has the power to modify the constitution at any time if it feels such amendment should be made.
6. The upper chamber of the legislature are usually weak.
7. It opposes judicial reviews because the central government has stronger powers than other arms of the government.
Advantage of unitary system of government
1. It provides for a stronger and stable government: The stability of the government in a unitary system is one of the major advantages of the system. This is so because unitary system does not allow opposition to the central government. Aside from the central government, no other smaller government is allowed to exist.
As a result of this, the central government seems to be stable. Decisions of the government are not opposed or argued by any authority. Even the judiciary does not have the power to oppose the central government when decisions are taken because the constitution gives the government that power.
2. Low cost of running the system: Another wonderful advantage of unitary system of government is its low cost. Unlike a federal system, unitary system of government is very cheap to operate. This is so because the resources of the country are not spent on state or local government that may not manage it properly. Since only one government controls a unitary system, it is more likely that the resources of the country will be used wisely.
3. Faster decision making: Undoubtedly, there is usually fast decision making in a unitary system of government. The central government has the power to amend amy law of the state or make decisions or nation policies without wasting time on consulting other smaller government as is the case in a federation.
This fast decision making sometimes aid faster development and can be helpful in times of emergency in the state.
4. It promotes unity: Unitary system of government also promote unity and peace because there is only one government. The likelihood of crisis as a result of the improper allocation of government revenue is very small because the government has all the political powers. This includes, power to share the resources or engage in development projects in any part of the state.
It also helps to make ensure equitable level of development in every part of the nation. The central government usually ensure that every part of the nation is undergoing equal development.
5. It promotes the spirit of oneness: Unitary system of government was adopted in countries like, Ghana, Italy, Togo etc because it promotes the spirit of oneness. Since the country is under one political authority, there is this feeling of oneness which it brings to them. There is usually no form of segregation or political differences amongst the people.
6. It has a flexible constitution: The constitution of a unitary system of government is usually flexible. This is a plus to the system because there will definitely be faster policy and decision making in times of emergency.
Disadvantages of unitary system of government
1. It encourages dictatorship: As it is always said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. When political powers are concentrated in the hands of one single government or central authority, there is always an abuse of that power. The government would try to infringe on the rights of some people so as to benefit themselves in some way.
The problem is even worsened when the judiciary is not allowed to review the activities of other arms of the government. It means that the government will become superior and not the constitution.
2. The central government might be overburdened: In a large country like Nigeria, it would be impossible for a unitary government to take care of every parts of the nation because the job will be too much for it to handle. If the system is practiced, it can lead to the ineffectiveness of the government or isolation of some parts of the country.
In other words, a unitary government may not be able to carry everyone along in a large and heterogenous country.
3. The government is far from the people: Another disadvantage of unitary system of government is that the government is usually far from the people. It makes development slow and reduces political participation in government. This a problem that would have been solved if there was small units of the government at the local levels, but since unitary system does not support this, it is a disadvantage of the system.
4. It does not encourage wide representation: Unlike a federal system where every part of the country is represented in the central government, unitary system does not encourage wide representation in government. Only some parts of the country are represented and this can result in the underdevelopment and isolation of those parts that were not represented.
5. It does not create employment opportunities: By creating state and local governments, the central government can create thousands of jobs opportunities and leadership training for people in the rural areas but this is not the case in a unitary system of government. The system only supports the existence of one government which is the central government. Bright leadership skills of people in the rural areas is allowed to die because of the lack of exposure.
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In conclusion, we can see that unitary system of government has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is usually advised that this system should be practiced in a small state and not a large or heterogeneous state because all of its benefits can only be achieved in a small state. Hope this article was helpful! I would like to know what you think in the comment section.