Difference Between Federalism and Regionalism

The main difference between federalism and regionalism is that federalism is a system of government that combines a central government with regional governments while regionalism is a political ideology that prioritizes the interest of the region over the interest of the nation as a whole.

Federalism and regionalism are two concepts related to politics. Both these concepts are related to regional governments, their role and relation to the central government. However, federalism is a system of government, and many countries of the world follow this system. Regionalism, on the other hand, is a political ideology, not a form of government.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Federalism 
     – Definition, Characteristics 
2. What is Regionalism
     – Definition, Characteristics 
3. What is the Difference Between Federalism and Regionalism
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Federalism, Regionalism, Regional Government

Difference Between Federalism and Regionalism_Comparison Summary

What is Federalism

Federalism is a system of government that combines a general government (central government) with regional governments. Therefore, in this form of government, provincial, state, territorial or other sub-unit governments share power with a national government. The United States government functions according to the principles of federalism. India, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Canada and Germany are some other countries that follow the concept of federalism.

Main Difference - Federalism vs Regionalism

Figure 1: Federal States are Indicated in Green, while Unitary States are Indicated in Blue

The main feature of federalism is the division of power between the national government and other governmental units. This government system is different from a confederation, where states are clearly dominant, or from a unitary government, where the central authority holds the power. Moreover, In the modern world, federalism is based on democratic rules.

The main concept behind federalism is to avoid a strong central government, which could lead to tyranny. Federalism is also a good system to integrate diverse nations and ethnic groups. There are different types of federalism, such as dual federalism, cooperative federalism, fiscal federalism, etc. Dual federalism is a political arrangement where power is divided between the federal and state governments in distinctly defined terms, and state governments exercise power accorded to them without interference from the federal government. Cooperative federalism, on the other hand,  is an arrangement where federal, state, and local governments interact cooperatively and collectively to solve common problems.

What is Regionalism

Regionalism is a political ideology that prioritizes local over national, favouring a specific region over the greater area. Regionalism can be a result of political separations, cultural boundaries, linguistic regions, religious geography, and managerial divisions. This ideology emphasizes the local, regional identity, as well as the need for independent regional planning and administrative freedom. In brief, the regionalist politics of a region are focused on that specific territory; their goal is to direct the national agenda towards local (regional) interests and bring greater autonomy for that region.

Difference Between Federalism and Regionalism

Figure 2: Political Map of India

There are both positive and negative consequences of regionalism. Regionalism may promote the local culture and facilitate local development. It may also take into account those regions that have been historically looked over the national administration. However, regionalism can also weaken the sense of national identity in a country and can create divisions within the citizens of the same country.

Difference Between Federalism and Regionalism

Definition

Federalism is a system of government that combines a central government with regional governments, while regionalism is a political ideology that prioritizes the interest of the region over the interest of the nation as a whole.

Nature

While federalism is a system of government, regionalism is a political ideology.

Conclusion

In brief, federalism is a system of government in which power is divided between a national government and various regional governments. In contrast, regionalism is a political ideology that prioritizes local over national, favouring a specific region over the greater area. This is the main difference between federalism and regionalism.

Reference:

1. Victor, Rotich. “What is Regionalism?” WorldAtlas, May. 28, 2018, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Map of unitary and federal states” By Lokal_Profil (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Medium-india-political-wall-map-vinyl-moi4781121786238-original-imaezawqex9x5dbb” By Imranism9 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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