Advantages and Disadvantages of Unitary System

Recall that unitary government is a government where the vast majority of authority is held by the federal government. Given below are just a few advantages and disadvantages of the unitary governments. You can see the full characteristics of unitary systems in the previous lesson.


An advantage of unitary government are that it is a single and decisive legislative. Also, a unitary government is very simple system, and as such less costly to run. Another advantage of a unitary government is that the laws of the unitary system, unlike in a federation, are uniform because laws are made only by a single central government for the whole state. See the list of advantages below:

  • In a unitary state, citizens only owe their allegiance to the central government. This could promote national unity.
  • The unitary system is good for countries that are geographically smaller in size.
  • There are no other levels of government that need to be funded by the state which makes it less expensive.
  • The unitary system is more likely to engender harmony among the various ethnic groups in the country leading to internal stability.
  • The unitary system allows for quick decision-making.
  • The central government is directly responsible for the entire development of the country which makes development more likely to be even and uniform.


A disadvantage of using this type of system is that it has slow government response. For example, there are no state defence forces that could be dispatched in cases of emergency. Troops would have to be mobilized by national authority. It is also easily loses track of local issues. Also, it is quite a divisive form of government where everyone is forced to compete with everyone else for priority. 

  • Since all the powers are concentrated at the centre, the burden of work becomes too heavy.
  • A disadvantage of a unitary system of government is the tendency to become dictatorial.
  • There is hardly room for experiments to figure out the pitfalls and loopholes of policies rolled out by the government.
  • Under some circumstances, the distribution of national resources might not be even, as some regions might be neglected for political reasons. In other words, some minority interests could be neglected.
  • Many citizens under unitary governments are used to waiting for the central government to initiate and implement policies and this could stifle local initiatives.

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This is a lesson from the tutorial, Structure and Systems of Government and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

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