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Station #1: Unitary, confederation, and federal governments. Every country has a government that is set up in its own distinct way. Once thing that a country has to decide is how to organize the government and distribute power. The power of the government can be organized so that there is on central government that controls all other governments in the country. Power can also be spread out so that there is not one central government but many smaller governments in the country working at different levels. Governments in each country are different, but there are three main ways they are organized to spread their power: unitary government, confederation government, and federal government. UNITARY GOVERNMENT In a UNITARY form of government, a central government operates all levels of government in the country. This single government assigns power to provincial or state governments and to local governments. For example, a leader in such a government might have the power to choose the governor of a region or the mayor of a town. This kind of central governments can give power to a legislature in an area to govern itself. Then, it could decide to dissolve that legislature and control the region again directly. There are many countries in the world organized this way. In the western hemisphere, Cuba and Bolivia are two examples. In Europe, Great Britain and France are examples of countries with unitary governments. Counties in England, for example, are similar to states in the United States. However, English counties have leaders that report to the central government in London. The power of these leaders is limited to whatever duties they have been assigned by the central government. Unitary government is not the structure of the United States government. Our Congress, for example, does not have the power to dissolve the Georgia legislature or appoint new governor for Georgia if the current one needs replacement. Georgia itself has a unitary government, however. The state has the power to create cities and counties or to break up counties and dissolve county and city governments, if it so desires. 1. How is power distributed in a unitary government? a. One ruler makes all the decisions for a country. b. Smaller units of government, like counties, control the central government. c. A central government assigns power and duties to smaller units of government within the country. d. The central government does not have much power over the smaller units of government in the country. 2. Which could happen in a country with a unitary government? a. Each of the counties in the country creates its own money. b. The national government removes the governor of the state ad picks a new governor. c. A state government removes the president of the country and picks a new president. d. Each of the states in a country writes its own laws, which may be different from the laws of other states. 3. Use the following words to answer question 3: Bolivia, Cuba, France, Great Britain. a. They have a unitary style of government. b. They do not have a unitary style of government. c. The countries do not have a strong central government. d. The countries have one leader to follow in the government. CONFEDERATION GOVERNMENT Some countries might agree that they would be better able to solve problems or provide for their people if they worked together. They might sign a treaty or a constitution under which the countries agree to defend each other, to sign treaties with other countries, to trade with other countries, or to agree to a common currency. Such a group would be called a CONFEDERATION GOVERNMENT. A usual feature of the confederation is that membership is voluntary. A country can decide to leave at any time. Decisions by the confederation government may not be considered as law unless most, or all, of the member countries agree. Confederations are not commonly found among governments in the twenty-first century. This is because there are several problems with them. They often have little power, because a very high percentage of the membership must agree to decisions made. Individual countries can often have a veto in any decision. Changes in the constitution of the confederation also require all members to agree. Considering the challenge of getting this much agreement, it’s not surprising that confederations generally have a weak central government. The United States tried this type of government under the Articles of Confederation. From 1777 to 1787, the states considered themselves to be separate countries. Each had more power than the confederation government. The weak central government became a problem because Congress could make decisions and laws but had no power to enforce them. Although Congress could not tax, it could request money from the states. The states could choose to send money, or not. The Articles of Confederation was replaced by the Constitution, which provided for a federal form of government. 4. What is one problem with a confederation government? a. The central government is too strong. b. The central government has too many taxes. c. The central government cannot have an army to defend itself. d. The central government can create laws but might not be able to enforce them. 5. In a confederation, government power lies within a. the people b. a constitution c. the central government d. the governments of the member countries 6. What is the MOST LIKELY reason a country would join a confederation with a weak central government? a. The country is afraid it will be attacked. b. The country does not want to have strong partners. c. The country wants to keep most of the power for itself. d. The country wants to send tax money to the central government. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT In a FEDERAL form of government, power is divided between the central government and small divisions, such as states. A document such as a constitution may describe the rights, responsibilities, and duties of the central government and the states. In this system, the central government can be quite powerful, but it does not have the ability to dissolve the states or choose the leaders in a state. Power to change the constitution may reside with the people directly, with the states, or with the people’s representatives in the central government. Many countries use this form of distributing government power. In the western hemisphere, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela are examples of countries with a federal system. A federal system does not mean that there is more or less personal freedom for the people of the country. It just explains how power is distributed. In the United States, the federal government has powers that the states do not have, such as the power to declare war and sign treaties with other countries. Georgia cannot, for example, declare war on another country. States do have some powers that the federal government does not. For example, the federal government does not have the power to choose the governor of Georgia or create new counties in the state. Power to do those things is held by the state of Georgia and its people. 7. Which type of government divides power between the central government and smaller units such as states? a. confederation b. federation c. totalitarian d. unitary 8. What defines the rights, responsibilities, and duties of the central government and the states in a federal government? a. the people b. a constitution c. the central government d. governments of the states 9. Which could happen in a country with a federal government? a. Each of the states in the country has its own governor and legislature. b. The central government removes the governor of the state and picks a new governor. c. A state government removes the president of the country and picks a new president. d. Each of the states in a country writes its own laws, which may be different from the laws of the other states.