Federalism is a constitutional mechanism for dividing power between different levels of government, such that federated units can enjoy constitutionally guaranteed autonomy over certain policy areas while sharing power in accordance over other policy areas.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organisations, public officials, and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices.

They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well-informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.


Publication date
06 September 2017
Englishမြန်မာဘာသာ (Myanmar)العربية (Arabic)
Elliot W. Bulmer
Number of pages




What is the issue?

Why federalism?

Distribution of powers

Asymmetrical federalism

The boundaries of sub-national units

Institutions of sub-national government

Fiscal federalism

Federalism and the Constitution as a whole

Possible alternatives to federalism

Decision-making questions

References, resources and further reading

Give us feedback

Do you have a question or feedback about this publication? Leave us your feedback, and we’ll get back to you

Send feedback
Total views 2592
Downloads 32
Close tooltip