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Why is Federalism Important for Democracy?
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Local cultures and customs can be protected by federalism

Multi-ethnic and multi-cultural states are able to preserve local customs, languages, and traditions with powerful regional governments. Modern multi-ethnic federalist democracies have proved to be surprisingly stable. Federalism is a deterrent to the breakup of sovereign states.
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The Argument

History shows that multi-ethnic nations with strong central governments are vulnerable to collapse due to conflicting identities. European states which have many ethnic groups within them have often embraced federalism to prevent balkanization and to enable multiple cultures to flourish.[1] In countries such as the UK, federalism has been proposed as a logical solution to the problem of Welsh and Scottish identity. It would allow the Welsh and Scottish to govern themselves and protect their identity without encouraging them to break away; something devolution has only encouraged.[2] Alternative solutions such as heavy centralization frequently lead to simmering tensions, heavy-handed reactions on the part of the central government, and sometimes eventually violent insurrection by nationalist groups. India is an example of how successful federalism can be. It is not only the world’s largest democracy, but also has 22 official languages, many religions, and many racial groups. Indian unity has always been a difficult issue, but federalism has been very effective at keeping such a diverse country together against all the odds. Nations such as India show that federalism can preserve unity in huge multi-ethnic states.[3] Federalism has been successful in culturally diverse countries. Countries without federalism have struggled with devolution, balkanization, and violent nationalism.

Counter arguments

In many cases, groups will choose to break away even when presented with a federal option. Even the best attempts to quell internal divisions based on diverging identities may not prevent people from creating their own states. Many people in Scotland, for example, are not happy with a federal alternative to independence. [4] Far from creating harmony between conflicting ideas in large multi-ethnic blocks, federalism can exacerbate conflict. Federalism in the European Union has created endless gridlock. There are too many cultures rubbing shoulders and decision-making is slow or non-existent. Critics say that in the EU federalism will make decision-making impossible, as it has too many members with irreconcilable differences. Calls for European federalism has led to widespread discontent. Granting autonomy in many places may be just as dangerous as enforcing the central government. In states such as Afghanistan where separatist movements are bolstered by outside influences, federalism has arguably increased the threat of violence.[5]



[P1] Cultures which would otherwise be surpressed by a central government can be protected in a federal system [P2] Federalism prevents small groups of nationalists from breaking away from the whole [C] Regional cultures can be protected under a federal government, preventing conflict and the breakup of states.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Sunday, 1 Nov 2020 at 18:14 UTC

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