Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Federalism and Its Opponents and Proponents in Afghanistan


Federalism and Its Opponents and Proponents  in Afghanistan

In recent years, the creation of a federal system has been of the controversial topics in Afghanistan. The opponents of a federal system believe that this form of system is a prelude to the disintegration of the country and may repeat the Balkan experience in Afghanistan. For example, Mr. Hekmatyar could be considered as one of irrefragable opponents of federal or any decentralized systems. According to Mr. Hekmatyar and others like him, the only system that can maintain ethnic authority in Afghanistan is a powerful and centralized presidential system but it is clear that this kind of system will turn into an ethnocentric dictatorship as experienced in many period of political history of the country. In fact, the ethnocentric dictatorship is something that neither time nor the people of Afghanistan accept and nor the grounds for its realization exist in modern Afghanistan. The supporters of centralized presidential system also want a parliamentary system with a powerful prime minister feeling this way the two influential ethnic groups of Afghanistan will legally share power among themselves and the other ethnic groups will be absorbed into the government alongside these two and this way everyone will get their rights.
The proponents of federalism believe that  federal system could put an end to ethnic strife and can be a prelude to overall peace and security in Afghanistan. they assert that  it suits for Afghanistan because it accommodates a variety of peoples, cultures, languages, and traditions in a single large state.  In addition, majority of the leading world political system such as the United States of America, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Russia, Argentina and so on  are organized on a federal basis. Other federal countries are found on every continent and include Austria, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Switzerland, Tanzania, Venezuela, and the federal republic of Germany. Thus more than half of the land mass of the world is ruled by governments which have the federal system.
Anyway, we need to increase our awareness and scientific information about all modern system including federalism. As a concept, the term federalism has attained far and wide respectability. Like the concept of democracy, federalism is also difficult to define and reach deep knowledge. It is derived from the Latin word foedu, which means contract or alliance.   Throughout past centuries, however, federal has been used as a synonym for such word as national, league, or decentralized. Even in the federalist, a collection of essays by three supporters of the ratification of the American constitution _ john jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton _ the term is used in different connotations.
One useful and standard definition of federalism, however, is political system organized on a territorial basis in which sovereignty is  divided between two units_ a central government (sometimes referred to as the national government or the federal government) and regional governments (sometimes known as states, provinces, cantons, or Lander) _ and in which an individual is a citizen of both. Generally speaking, in a federal system the regional units are fixed and can be changed only with their consent.
In the federal system the division of power between the central government and its constituent subdivision is done constitutionally. Each of the two sets of governments, therefore, exercise authority directly from the other, but to a constitution which is superior to both of them. When a conflict occurs between the national government and a subdivisional government, and each is acting properly within its jurisdictional limits, the case is resolved in favor of the national government as the ultimate focus of sovereignty. Resolving the dispute in favor of the constituent unit would be converting the system into a confederation of sovereign states.
The federal system of government stands between the concentration power in a single national government, and the diffusion of power in a confederation of sovereign states. the federal system fits for multi-ethnic countries as it is flexible with a variety of cultures, languages, and traditions in a single large state. Federalism seems one of the most sophisticated systems of government ever devised because of the dual requirements of organizing national unity on common purposes while preserving local diversity in the same society. For a federal system to be successful, the value consensus that holds the system together must be stronger than the diversity of local values, which tend to pull it apart. Even in this case, however, those who emphasize local values must have confidence, demonstrated in practice, that the central government will respect them. The necessity of balancing unity and diversity makes a federal system difficult to operate effectively.
A federal system may be more clearly understood if it is compared to the two alternative system of government, namely the confederation and the unitary systems. The confederation is a loose association of regional units in which sovereign power is retained by the regional units rather than the central government. The central government has no direct jurisdiction over individuals, consequently. Prior to the adoption of the American constitution, for example, the united states was governed as confederation. In that system, states retained sovereignty, and the constitution could be amended only with the unanimous consent of the states. To a considerable extend, the united national be classified as confederation today, since power and sovereignty are maintained by the countries which make up its membership rather than by the international organization itself.
In a unitary system, sovereignty power is retained in the central government, and regional units are changed at will. All governmental authority is exercised directly over the citizens by the central government, except in the areas of the responsibility delegated to regional or local authorities. In France, for example, the central government supervises local governments by its agents, known as prefets. However, unitary system include a verity of political systems, among which are democratic, authoritarian, imperial, and totalitarian forms. In addition to France and Great Britain, unitary systems are found in Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Japan, China, Poland, and many other places.


Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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