Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Wikipedia.
See J. Bryce, The American Commonwealth (rev. ed. 1959); K. Wheare, Federal Government (4th ed. 1964); D. J. Elazar, American Federalism (2d ed. 1972); W. H. Stewart, Concepts of Federalism (1984); H. Bakvis and W. M. Chandler, ed., Federalism and the Role of the State (1987); K. L. Hall, Federalism (1987).
a state system in which a single sovereign state is composed of several united states, each of which juridically maintains a certain degree of political independence. Historically, the first bourgeois federation was the USA, established by the Constitution of 1787. Other federations include the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, India, Pakistan, Burma, Malaysia, Australia, and Nigeria. The USSR, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic are socialist federations.
A federation is marked by the following features: (1) territorial extent, a federation is coextensive with the area occupied by its individual members—its states, cantons, Lander, union republics, or other territorial units; (2) the member states of a federation usually have the right to adopt their own constitution; (3) the limits between federal and state jurisdiction are set forth in the federal constitution; (4) each member state of a federation has its own laws and judicial system; and (5) in most federations, a person is simultaneously a citizen of the union and a citizen of one of its united states. Some federations have a bicameral system in which one chamber represents the interests of the federation’s member states.
Socialist federations, which differ radically from bourgeois federations, are based on another principle entirely. In the USSR and in the socialist countries, for the first time in history the state system of federation has become the basis for resolving the national question. The socialist federations are based on the principle of national territoriality and the voluntary union of the sovereign and equal members of the federation, each member having the right to secede from the federation. The development and organization of national states have been influenced by the historical experience of the socialist countries, and particularly of the USSR; this influence is evident in some countries, such as Burma and India, that were freed from colonial dependence and that formed a type of federation consistent with their national makeup.