Federalism is a political philosophy in which a group of members are bound together (Latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. The term federalism is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces). Federalism is a system in which the power to govern is shared between national and state governments, creating what is often called a federation. Proponents are often called federalists.
In Europe, “federalist” is sometimes used to describe those who favor stronger federal government, at a national or supranational level, as is the case of the European Union. The term is also used to describe those who favor weaker provincial governments. In the federal nations of Europe (including Germany, Austria and Switzerland) or South America (including Argentina or Brazil), the term “strong federalism” labels situations where sub-national states may have more power than the national (federal) government; it does not imply a strong central government. Some nations with federal systems, such as Switzerland and Canada, are officially confederations, because membership in the federation is voluntary.
In Canada, federalism implies opposition sovereigntist movements (usually those of Quebec). The same is historically true in the United States. Advocates of a weaker federal government and stronger state governments are those that generally favor confederation, often related to early “anti-federalists” and later the Confederacy.
Australia, Brazil and India, among others, are also federal states.
Federalism may encompass as few as two or three internal divisions, as is the case in Belgium.
Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was heard to say prior to January 20th, what an opportunity this (the collapse of the financial markets) presents us. He said: “You never want to let a crisis go to waste. . .This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” That was Rahm Emanuel addressing leaders at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council. He ticked off areas where he thought new doors were opening: energy, health, education, tax policy, regulatory reforms, just the things an opportunistic activist Obama administration could feed on. All except for taxes are areas best left to states.