Politics in Minutes (2016)

Federalism

Some nations are formed of a federation of autonomous states. These have a central, federal government, which has powers to decide policy and make laws on national and international issues, and a number of regional governments at the state level that determine domestic policies and laws. One of the oldest federal states is Switzerland, which consists of 26 cantons covering 4 distinct cultural and linguistic regions, united as a confederation with a federal parliament. Other federal republics tend to be much larger countries with diverse regional populations, such as the United States, or the Russian Federation, which formed after the collapse of the USSR. Some politicians in Europe have pressed for increased federalism of the European Union giving stronger powers to a central government while retaining the autonomy of the separate member states. But many, while recognizing the benefits of intergovernmental cooperation for trade, have resisted the idea of increasing the power of supranational institutions fearing a loss of sovereignty and national identity.

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