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Political federalism is a political philosophy in which a group of members are bound together (Latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. The term federalism is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces). Federalism is the system in which the power to govern is shared between the national and state governments, creating what is often called a federation. Proponents are often called federalists.
In Europe, "federalism" is often used to describe those who favor a stronger federal government (for example, with governance under the European Union) and weaker provincial governments. In federal nations of Europe (such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland) or South America (such as Argentina or Brazil), the term "strong federalism" means sub-national states having more power than the national(federal) government, in contrast with a centralist system.
In Canada, federalism means opposition to sovereigntist movements (usually that of Quebec). The same is historically true in the United States. Advocates of a weaker federal government and stronger state government are those that generally favor confederation, often related to "anti-federalists". The state or regional governments strive to cooperate with all the nations. The old statement of this position can be found in The Federalist, which argued federalism helps enshrine the principle of due process by limiting arbitrary action from the state. First, federalism can limit government power and infringe rights, since it allows the possibility that a legislature wishing to restrict liberties will lack the constitutional power. The level of government that possesses the power lacks the desire. Second, the legalistic decision making processes of federal systems limit the speed with which governments can act.