Harmonizing Relationships between Central and Local Governments in a Federal Structure

By Hatem, Faris Abdulraheem; Mohd, Noor Farihah Binti | Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Harmonizing Relationships between Central and Local Governments in a Federal Structure


Hatem, Faris Abdulraheem, Mohd, Noor Farihah Binti, Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues


INTRODUCTION

In the twentieth century, especially during the last forty years, the implementation of political decentralization (Federalism) has spread across many countries (Freille et al., 2007). There are several advantages that have resulted with the spread of federalism including the achievement of the principle of democracy. According to von Braun and Grote (Hankla, 2009):

"Many scholars argue that decentralization encourages such positive incentives by increasing the democratic accountability of the state. The basic intuition here is that the government is more accountable when it is closer to the people. First, citizens can better oversee the behaviour of public officials when they live in the same region than when the officials operate from a distant national capital."

Besides the democratic advantages, there are also advantages related to improving the delivery of services to citizens. The improvement of transparency in the implementation of federalism leads to better public services (Hankla, 2009). According to Qian and Roland (1998) federalism:

"Generates an incentive to provide the maximum quality of government services at the lowest cost".

Also, Litvack and Seddon (1999) states:

"Advocates of political decentralization assume that decisions made with greater participation will be better informed and more relevant to the diverse interests in society than those made only by national political authorities. The concept implies that the selection of representatives from local electoral jurisdictions allows citizens to better know their political representatives and allows elected officials to better know the needs and desires of their constituents. "

On the other hand, critics have opined that federalism can protect such states that are threatened by division (Hankla, 2009). In the same context, Crook (Hankla, 2009) stated that:

"A number of states around the world have relied on federalism to maintain national cohesiveness".

The author also said that:

"The specific impact of decentralization on cohesiveness is probably only an issue in highly divided societies and is likely to vary on a case-by-case basis".

The harmony between the federal government and the regions leads to achieving the advantages of the political decentralized system (Federalism) in the exercise of democracy and improving the provision of services to citizens in addition to protecting national unity. The researcher will examine how to achieve this harmony in this study.

Distribution of Competence between the Central Government and Regions or Provinces

The harmonization and cooperation between the federal government and the regions can be achieved by their commitment to the distribution of competences between them, which is according to the nature of the authority. For example, the central authority carries out the competence concerning the country's relations with other countries, such as diplomatic representation, bilateral and public treaties and declaration of war. The central authority also exercises the activities which exceed its effect more than a state or which extends to all the country's territories, such as the distribution of electricity, regulation of water through the country's territories, issuing currency and regulation of trade between states. On the other hand, the local authorities are responsible for all activities related to the local population such as providing public services, organizing activities within the state and providing all the needs of the local population. Therefore, the members of the local authority must be from the local population and be elected so that the local people can monitor the work of the members of the local government in administering their affairs. This harmony between the central government and local governments also leads to the goal of decentralization, which is to provide the best services to the population in the country and to achieve the principles of democracy that allows the local people to monitor the members of the local authority and maintain the unity of the country. …

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