Intergovernmental Relations

The regional representation of the local people in the national government has resulted into the formation of social welfare organizations with a view of creating federal autonomy. In most cases, central governments have expanded their intergovernmental relation to their constituents’ political units in promoting federal decentralization. However, such efforts have proven to be futile and inconsistent with the primary role of the federal system of promoting equitable sharing of powers and policies between the national and sub-national governments. The write up evaluates and discusses how the birth of intergovernmental relations led to the death of federalism. It also discusses the federal schemes’ classification methods proposed by Ronald Watts.

Intergovernmental relations are an important body of interactions that incorporates the delegation of government processes between multi-governmental units in enhancing decision making processes. In its course, intergovernmental relations are intended to offer multi-organizational arrangements that make all the government units receive more adequate welfare programs in both protecting and promoting their social rights.  These social governmental systems are characterized by multiple institutions, national and sub-national programs that are designed to allow the local populations to take part in decision making and adaptation processes. Moreover, intergovernmental relations have been viewed as an avenue that continues to spread democracy, industrialization, and urbanization efforts equally among the entire populations.

However, incorporation of the social programs so as to enhance the evolution of intergovernmental relations has been viewed as the main contributor to the death of federalism. Watts (2008) points out that there are a number of factors that have challenged the effectiveness of classifying federal systems within the international arena in promoting intergovernmental relations. The write up evaluates and discusses how the birth of intergovernmental relations led to the death of federalism. It also discusses the federal schemes’ classification methods proposed by Ronal Watts.

The “Birth” of Intergovernmental Relation and the “Death” of Federalism

As pointed out by Watts (2008), federalism is a formal legal framework that establishes equal delegation of government powers between the national governments and corresponding sub-national states or local governments. On the other hand, he notes that intergovernmental relations depict a system of government which allows the sharing of powers and policy schemes between the national and state governments. According to him, intergovernmental relation incorporates various organizations, behaviors, and patterns that potentially attempt to limit the traditional legal framework that is envisaged in federalism.

He points out that the intergovernmental relations (IGR) do not account for political baggage of the government system of federalism, but rather promote sub-national interests.  He notes that despite the unitary system, as stipulated by the government system of federalism, IGR present many modifying forces that undermine the legal edges of federalism. For instance, the forces of nationalist movements in seeking democracy in form of political representation and participation have only promoted regional autonomy that enhances sub-national interest rather than promoting national-local interest.

On the other hand, the factor of political insanity in terms of ideologies and partisans as envisaged in the IGR systems, has displayed the demise of federalism. According to Watts (2008), political bargaining factor posed by the unitary forces such as the nationalist movements has clearly undermined the objectives of federalism. He notes that political bargaining has modified the nature in which the fiscal practices such as tax sharing and general grants are enhanced between the national and state governments. He points out that the IGR have changed the sovereignty of nation to state into a sovereign state comprising of interstate partisans whose main aim is to encourage national powers giving the national government more control over the sub-national affairs. For instance, the national government has used its federal system in increasing its tax superiority over the sub national governments that allows it to control revenue and overspending.

Additionally, the global economy factor has resulted into political and other related forces that have promoted both the international and local financial pressure at the expense of nation-state interconnection. In an effort to increase consumption rate of citizens at the global and local level, the national government tends to impose financial aid programs onto the sub-national governments. Watts (2008) points out that the national government uses such aid programs with an aim of protecting and guaranteeing social rights of people on the nationwide basis. He notes that the national governments have used the IGR as a federal system to assist them in taking control over sub-national functions such as education and social welfare programs. This is intended to ensure that certain national interests and rights are effectively manifested across the nations. He points out that such IGR policy patterns as depicted in the federal system are more of centralizing than decentralizing the national and sub-national governments, of which federalism is all about. Therefore, it is true to note that the birth of intergovernmental relations has resulted into the demise of federalism.

Classification Method of Federal Systems

The value of federal system classification method as presented by Watts is based on its importance in explaining the degree of decentralization and interdependency that is covered under federalism. Watts’ classification method of eleven federal systems demonstrates that the indicators of decentralization and interdependence inhibit separate organizational dimensions. This can assist a comparative analyst in his/her findings and make him/her equipped with effective analytic procedures of justifying the multidimensionality composition of the federal systems in enhancing federalism. For instance, Watts (2008) points out that the U.S. federal system, which is based on constitutional decentralization and assigns equal jurisdiction to the 50 states, in actual sense do not apply to the nation-state interrelationship in enhancing interdependency. He points out that some of the legislations, which are intended to distribute powers to the states, have prohibited states from enacting and implementing laws that illustrate their interdependency.

On the other hand, Watts’ classification method has adequately presented decentralization as the only kind of federal system that an analyst is likely to encounter. Watts has distinctively and inclusively illustrated the difference between decentralization of jurisdiction and decentralization of decision in federal system. According to Watts, the latter denotes the key role in decision making processes played by the constituent government units, with the former illustrating the responsibility practiced by the government units. He points out that decentralization of jurisdiction normally stipulates the degree of autonomy that the decentralized unitary states should encounter. However, in the actual sense, such efforts are controlled by the central government.

It is also important to point out that Watts’s comparative scheme does not provide a distinctive quantifiable index that adequately determines the impact of decentralized jurisdiction and decision making process in a political system. This can only be addressed if the formal constitution framework would clearly illustrate the delegation of legislative powers to each governmental unit in determining the essence of decentralized jurisdiction. Moreover, the federal government should use the revenues of allocation and expenditure as an avenue of determining the financial autonomy to enable it measure their degree of autonomy.


In conclusion, it is evident that intergovernmental relations have adversely undermined the principles of equitable sharing of powers and policies between the central governments and the states governments. The paper has pointed out the need for the national government to effectively promote decentralized jurisdictions and schemes that enhance federal autonomy during intergovernmental relations. Moreover, both the national and sub-national governments should effectively enhance IGR in promoting decentralization rather than centralization.

Order now

Related essays