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Us Federalism and Britain's Unitary State

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US Federalism and Britain's Unitary State

More than 200 years ago, the Americans put an end to the authority of the British Empire over the Americans, who strongly disagreed with the taxes elevated on them without the possibility of representation. A federal system based on dividing the power between two sets of government, which each had control over its own spheres, was created. This was done to protect the rights and the liberty of the population, which the founders of the U.S. constitution meant were in danger of getting diminished with a centralized government, such as Britain's unitary state. Even though the US started with a system of government built on different principles of governing than Britain's unitary state, the two systems of governing have moved towards each other, becoming more similar than the founders of the US constitution ever wanted.

However, there are also many differences between US federalism and Britain's unitary state. The most obvious one is that all the power in Britain's unitary state flows from one source and, the power given to other regions comes from the center, the Westminster Parliament. By contrast, the power in the US is divided between national and state government, which creates more local power and arenas to discuss politics. Furthermore, it produces a possibility for diversity among the different states. The power is also divided in the U.K., but in a different manner. The Westminster Parliament has devolved power to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Unlike the federal government in the US, the center in the U.K. got authority to recall the power devolved to a state and even abolish it.

An additional difference between the two political systems is the constitution, or rather the absence of one in the U.K. The US got a codified constitution, which separate the power both between the states and the national government, but also between the different branches of government: Legislative, Executive and Judicial. In addition, the states also have their own constitutions with laws that only apply to the people living in each particular state, while the laws of the US National government concern all citizens of the US. To prevent possible conflicts regarding the US and state constitution, the founders of the constitution made the US constitution supreme over state constitutions. (Bodenhamer: 2007) As I mentioned earlier, the U.K. does not have a codified constitution like in the US. The British constitution is built on many documents and traditions, and is therefore more flexible than the US constitution. As a result, it is easier for the government to alter the constitution without making formal amendments. One example of this is the extended use of referendums during the Blair government, which became an acknowledged part of constitutional practice without making formal amendments. (McCormick, 2007: 94-95).

Since the US constitution was made in 1787, the federal system in the US has changed considerably moving towards a more centralized system with more power to the federal government. The starting point was dual federalism, where national and state governments were clearly separated and each supreme within its own sphere. The role of the federal government and the cooperation between state and national government expanded during the 1930th with Franklin



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