What is federalism decentralization

Federalism, regionalism, decentralization - an outdated world?

Essay, 2009

9 pages, grade: 1.3

Reading sample


1. Historical overview

2. Decentralization

3. Federalism

4. Regionalism

5. Summary and outlook


1. Historical overview

For several centuries, states have been organizing themselves according to the principle of federalism. Many examples of this can be found in the European past: the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which consisted of many small independent territories, but also the Austrian Empire or Spain with the provinces of Castile and Andalusia.1 Nevertheless, there are only a few states in Europe that are organized on a purely federal basis. Germany, Austria and Belgium are the only pure federal states within the European Union.2 However, there is also a trend towards decentralization in Europe. The individual regions are becoming more and more important, countries like Spain or Italy are already very far advanced on their way to becoming a federal state. Despite this development, however, the question arises as to whether decentralization, federalism and regionalism are still the right concept or not already outdated. This question will now be dealt with below. However, the three basic terms are first presented in more detail.

2. Decentralization

Decentralization is the “process or result of the transfer of powers and tasks from a higher level of an organization to a lower level”.3 Local autonomy is strengthened through the transfer of competences and responsibilities from the national level.4 Democracy and decentralization can be easily combined. In this way, decentralization ensures closer proximity to the citizen and thus also better identification with the political community, as there is a contact person for the citizen at the regional level who can also specifically support regional interests. This also increases the opportunities for citizens to participate. The internal party democracy can be strengthened, since the individual regional associations struggle for more influence in the federal party. Regional groupings can gain great influence by forming coalitions at the national level.5 Decentralization ensures the protection of minorities and their interests are better represented. Last but not least, decentralization also results in a vertical separation of powers, which in turn results in a further level of control. This newly created level between the nation state and the municipality can counteract the abuse of power by a central government and, if necessary, prevent it. Decentralized decisions also create certain options for people, which the example of tuition fees clearly shows. Since not all federal states charge tuition fees, every student can choose between free or non-free training.6


1 Dieter C. Umbach (1998), p. 116

2 Anna Gamper (2008), p. 50

3 Manfred G. Schmidt (2004), p. 163

4 Andrew Heywood (2000), p. 237

5 Klaus von Beyme (2008), p. 40

6 Arthur Benz (1998), p. 21 f.

End of the excerpt from 9 pages


Federalism, regionalism, decentralization - an outdated world?
Bavarian Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg
Benedikt Kellerer (Author)
Catalog number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (book)
File size
516 KB
Federalism, regionalism, decentralization, multilevel systems, democracy
Price (book)
£ 7,99
Price (eBook)
£ 1,99
Cite work
Benedikt Kellerer (Author), 2009, Federalism, Regionalism, Decentralization - An Obsolete World ?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/161441