Merits of Unitary Government:
(1) Strong Government:
In unitary government, all the powers of the government are in the hands of the centre under the constitution.
The powers which are given to the states are only for the efficiency of the administration and depend on the will of the centre.
Therefore, a powerful government is established at the centre in this form of government. It is responsible for the defence of the country and the maintenance of internal peace, law and order.
(2) Less expensive:
In a unitary government there is only one Parliament and Cabinet for the entire country. Therefore, this government is less expensive as compared to Federal form of government. Moreover, there are no separate legislatures and cabinets for the provinces.
(3) Efficient administration:
In this government the administration becomes efficient, because there are no conflicts between the centre and the states and states are to abide by the orders and directions of the centre. There is, therefore, no delay in the administration and centre takes decisions very quickly. The centre appoints efficient officials who remove all the administrative ills.
(4) Single citizenship:
There is a double citizenship in a federal form of government and every citizen is the citizen of his country as well as of the state in which he lives. For instance, there is double citizenship in America and every American citizen is the citizen of his country as well as of his state. (There are 50 states in America).
When a citizen of New York State goes to California or Texas and settles down there, he is not considered the citizen of these states, with the result that he has to face many difficulties. He does not enjoy the right to vote in that state. There is no such thing in a unitary government.
There is a single citizenship in a unitary state and every citizen is the citizen of the entire country and there is no separate citizenship of states. For example there is no separate citizenship of England, Scotland, Ulster (North Ireland) and Wales in the United Kingdom. Therefore, everybody can adopt any profession and purchase property in any part of the country without any restriction.
(5) Administrative uniformity:
Another advantage of a unitary form of government is uniformity in the administration, because there is no dual government in it. It means there is only one parliament for making laws and one Cabinet to run the administration for the entire country.
There is no provision of separate legislatures and cabinets for the provinces. Provincial governors and administrators are to act according to the orders of the centre. In a unitary government there is only one administrative service for the whole of the country.
(6) Prompt decisions:
In a unitary government prompt decisions are taken, because the entire power is in the hands of centre. This type of government is best suited to face crises.
(7) Most suited to the small countries:
Unitary government is quite suitable for small countries, because it establishes organisation and unity after ending all differences.
(8) More flexible:
In unitary government constitution is not as rigid as it is in a federal government. Thus constitution is amended without any difficulty according to the demand of particular situations and it can be kept in harmony with, the public opinion.
(9) Follows a vigorous home and foreign policy:
In a unitary government the central government can follow a vigorous home and foreign policy without any hindrance of the provincial governments.
Demerits of Unitary Government:
(1) Apprehension of the Central Government becoming despotic:
Due to centralization of powers there is constant apprehension of central government becoming despotic in a unitary government. Ramsay Muir says that dictatorship of the Cabinet has been established in England. In France, President de Gaulle concentrated many powers in his own hands. It is evident that because of the centralization of powers, the tendency of absolutism flourishes to a great extent.
(2) The Central Government becomes overburdened with work:
In a unitary government the division of powers between the centre and the states is not like that of a federal government with the result that state governments are to wait for the orders of the centre in many matters.
The centre has to perform many such tasks as are performed by the state governments and local governments in a federal form of government. Thus, the functions of the central government are increased considerably, and many important tasks are ignored. There is also delay in carrying out the administrative policies.
(3) Lack of local autonomy:
In a unitary government sometimes local self-government is ignored, because the central government has no time to devote attention to local matters. Besides, the local administration is run by the administrators appointed by the central government and people have no share in the government. Thus, people take no interest in local matters. The situation in France is just like that, but in England sufficient power of local self-government has been given to the people.
(4) More influence of Government officials:
In unitary government provincial and local administrations are run by the government officials and not by the representatives of the people. This does not give enough opportunity to the people to take part in administration. Moreover, there is a great influence of the government officials.
(5) Not suitable for the big states:
There are many diversities in India, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. Unitary government is not suitable for such states because separate legislatures are to be organised for the units to satisfy varied elements. Besides, local-self government is also to be given. For this reason a federal form of government is more suitable than the unitary form of government for big countries.
(6) The people do not get much political education in unitary government as they got in federal government:
In a federal government there is a separate legislature at the centre as well as in the units (states). Since there is no separate legislature in the states and there is less local self-government in unitary government, elections are also less frequently held. Thus the people and their representatives do not receive as much political education as they receive in a federal form of government.
Dr. Garner has given the defects of unitary government in these words, “Unitary Government tends to repress local initiative, discourages rather than stimulates interest in public affairs, impairs the vitality of governments and facilitates the development of centralized bureaucracy.”