Disadvantages of Federal Government are described below:
(1) Federal Government is weaker in comparison with the Unitary Government
As compared to Unitary Government, federal Government is weaker, because there is a division of powers in it.
In a Unitary Government, there is a centralization of powers; hence the government is strong and the administration stable.
Decisions are also prompt in a federation. Prof. Dicey has correctly remarked, “A Federal constitution is, as compared with a Unitary Constitution a weak form of Government….. A true federal government is based on the division of powers.
It means the constant effort of statesmanship to balance one state of the confederacy against another”.
(2) Federal Government is more expensive than the unitary type of Government:
There are separate legislatures and cabinets in a federal government and periodical elections are conducted. Thus this type of government is more expensive as compared to Unitary Government. (In a Unitary Government there is only one legislature for the whole country.
(3) In Federal Government, provincial tendencies are very acute:
In a Federal Government diversities are not curbed but they are fully safeguarded so that every race, cultural, nationality and religion get an opportunity for full development. Thus every minority campaigns for its own progress. In India the riots which took place at the time of the States’ reorganization are a glaring example of this tendency.
(4) Lack of uniformity in administration:
There is dual government in a federal government, one at the centre and the other in the states. States have the liberty to make laws and run the administration. Both the centre and the states have the right to legislate on the subjects of Concurrent List. Thus many times controversial laws are passed which create conflicts between the two. Sometimes the states are allowed to frame their own constitution in a federation. Thus there is no uniformity in the administration. Different civil and criminal laws are seen in different States. This difference is seen in the United States of America.
(5) Threat to national unity:
Sometimes the unity is allowed to secede. This called the Right of self-determination. This right has been given to every unit or the Union Republic in the Constitution of the Soviet Russia. In Russia every unit has the right to have its own Constitution and keep its own armed forces in Russia every unit or Union Republic has been given the right to establish foreign relations enter into treaties, appoint diplomats and receive them from other countries. In Switzerland too the Cantons (States) have been given the right to have their own constitution, establish diplomatic relations and enter into treaties with foreign countries.
All this given encouragement to separatist tendencies and hampers national unity. But this situation has not arisen in Russia and Switzerland. The reason for this is that the units have not misused this right and they have not indulged in any activity against the federal Constitution or the federal government.
During the regime of President Abraham Lincoln, civil war broke out in America. On the question of giving rights to Negros, the Southern States revolted against the Northern States. If the President had failed at the time, the federation might have disintegrated.
(6) Distribution of powers between Central and State Government leads to many conflicts:
There is a great danger of conflicts in a federal Government because every State has a separate jurisdiction of rights. The conflicts between the Central and State Governments, results in non-co-operation between them. Though the Supreme Court is established for the settlement of disputes, yet in many matters there is no compromise, because all the matters are not brought before the Supreme Court.
(7) Double citizenship:
Generally in a federal government, there is double citizenship. In such a situation every citizen is the citizen of his own state as well as of the centre. Therefore, the citizens have to be loyal to their state and to the centre. Double loyalty is not good. In America, because of the principle of double citizenship, a citizen has to face many hardships when he goes to another state.
(8) The Constitution, being rigid, cannot be adjusted to the fast-changing conditions:
In a federal government constitution is made rigid so that the centre and the states may not be tempted to make changes at will. This type of constitution is not suitable for a developing country and it is not in accordance with the public opinion.
This hinders the national progress. American Constitution, because of its rigidity, has hindered its national progress. A Bill relating to the Child Labour Amendment Act was introduced in that country in 1924, which could not be passed because of the rigidity of the Constitution. Thirteen states can hinder even a very good amendment in the Constitution there.
(9) The State Governments sometimes place hindrances in the foreign policy of the Centre:
Sometimes the state governments do not agree with the foreign policy of the centre, particularly when the centre wants to transfer a piece of territory of a state to a foreign power as per the term of a treaty. For example, when on December 28, 1960 according to the Ninth Amendment of the Indian Constitution some area of Berubari was transferred to Pakistan by the Central Government, the Government of West Bengal lodged a strong protest.
In the United States of America, the States have the right to make laws regarding life and property. If any law imposing some undue restrictions on foreign citizens is passed the relations of the federal government will be strained with that country.
Switzerland and other federal governments implement international treaties with the help of the State Government. In case the State Governments do not agree with the Centre regarding the implementation of treaties, many problems crop up.
(10) Responsibility for bad administration cannot be located:
It is easy to fix responsibility for maladministration in a unitary government because the centre is responsible for it. But the responsibility is divided in a federal form of government. The centre can hold the States responsible for wrongpolicies. In this way, ordinary citizens are unable to know the actual facts.
(11) Fear of the grouping of some big States to influence other states or centre:
There is always a fear of grouping of some big states to influence other states or the centre with their policy. Dr. Gilchrist says, “such combination may reveal either a maladjustment of the component units which may be corrected by the constitutional amendment, or in extreme case a radical divergence of views which may lead to the breaking up of federation into new states”.