Unitary System And Federal System From The Context Of Indonesian Government System

Unitary System And Federal System From The Context Of Indonesian Government System

There are two popular models of government system known as the unitary system and the federal system. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages that may differ from one country to another. In this article, I will discuss both systems in the context of the Indonesian government system.

Unitary System

A unitary system is a government system in which a country or state is governed as a single entity leads by the central government with supreme authority. The central government can then transfer the authority to a sub-national government/sub-unit or local governments through devolution and delegation. France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and the majority of countries in the world follow this system.

The unitary system, which is currently implemented in the Indonesian governmental system has several positive aspects.

  1. The central government has the power to unite the country

The fact that Indonesia consists of many social characteristics, is a factor that might affect the stabilization of the country. In addition, a wide area of a territory separated by the sea, and a large number of populations might add more complexity to the governmental system. Without a central government establishing rules and regulations, managing this big county might be problematic and tends to create conflicts. Thus, with the unitary system, the central government has the power to unite the nation.

  1. Better Coordination

To manage a big country with many local governments, coordination is important to ensure the national program run smoothly. In the unitary system, one central government controls the authority for national affairs that have to be followed by the local government. The country moves with one central commando and therefore, achieving national priorities might be easier compared to the federal system.

  1. Less Duplication

Since the highest authority is held by a single power, the distribution of affairs can be done with less duplication. The central government will distribute affairs to be handled to local governments. For example, duplication in civil registration often occurs in countries using the federal system such as the USA.

Despite the positive aspects, the implementation of the unitary system in Indonesia also has several negative aspects.

  1. A heavy burden on central government

In a unitary system, the central government holds the role of the leader for all local governments. They have to manage and create policies to be applied in all regions. Moreover, given the diversity of social characteristics in Indonesia, the problems that arise in Indonesia are vary and unique. This will be a heavy burden for the central government.

  1. Slow government response

The unitary system makes the government slow in responding to situations. The local government cannot make any decision that is related to central government affairs although they might have a better understanding of the problems or situations. Some problems might be unique to one region and never happened in other regions that make the central government lack of experience to solve the problem and make them slow in responding to the problems. Moreover, in making any decision, the central government has to think about many aspects since their decision will affect all local governments. This will even slower their response.

Federal System

The federal system is a government system in which several states work together and form a unit called a federal state. The central government in this system can only regulate some functions which are considered national while each state usually has a high degree of autonomy and can govern the government quite freely. USA, Australia, Canada, and Malaysia are some countries that implement this system.

Although this system is not implemented in Indonesia, analyzing the implication of this system in the context of Indonesia might also have several advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that the disadvantages in the unitary system can be avoided. The central government will have less burden, and the response of the government could be improved.

This system, in my opinion, has several disadvantages and is not suitable for Indonesia, at least for now. The reason is that our local government is not ready. Many of the local governments in Indonesia depend on the central government in many aspects. They still lack financial capacity, human resources, leadership, management systems, let alone the development of infrastructures. Only a few local governments can be considered independent. Implementing a federal system and giving the power to the local government to fully manage the government might lead to inequity and decline of public services quality. A study reported that public service delivery in the new autonomous regions is generally below the levels in parent regions by a small gap, the causes, such as the lack of personnel and facilities, are reasonable for a newly established government.

In short, from the Indonesian context, both the unitary and federal systems have advantages and disadvantages. Although for now, the advantages of the unitary system, which is currently implemented in Indonesia outweigh its disadvantages, given the dynamic in economics, social, and political aspects, this condition might not be so in the future. Change can happen at any time, who knows.