Federalism is a concrete manifestation of the right to internal self-determination of specific communities in a multi-ethnic or multi-national state. A federal structure of the state has the potential to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of all ethnic, linguistic or religious communities for self-government and protection of their distinct cultural and religious identities, while at the same time guaranteeing equal participation by all communities and by all citizens in the political and economic affairs of the country as a whole. Thus, federalism is considered as a multi-layered political structure that facilitates both unity and diversity: “The federal idea, in short, is generally conceived as a compromise, conveyed by the image of checks and balances between unity and diversity, autonomy and sovereignty, the national and regional.” (Smith 2001, p.5) It is a system that allows for a balance between “…the preservation of the autonomy, the self-consciousness, and the influence of territorially concentrated social groups, on the one hand, (and) desires for a strong country-wide community on the other.”(Simeon/Swinton 1995, p.7) So federalism comes into play as a reasonable design for a political system that secures social unity and political stability within (culturally/ethnically) divided societies.


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