Difference Between Federal and State Government

For every nation, the government always holds power to regulate and legislate the functioning of the nation.


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Federal and state governments both have several powers, respectively, but the major difference between these two is the execution of their powers which has been done for their respective areas.

Federal Government vs State Government

The difference between the federal government and state government is that the federal government has the power or the authority to regulate the different states of the nation, and on the contrary, the state government has the power to regulate within the boundaries of the state in which it is governing, and it simply means that the state government will serve the citizens residing in its state.

Federal Government vs State Government

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The federal government concept derived from the word Federalism, which means that the government system of a country is segmented, and as a result, the country is operated by two power-holding authorities or a structured form of government.

The federal government legislates the issues which are mainly concerned by the whole nation or the nationwide.

The state government is formed to regulate the functioning of the particular state in which it is governing. It regulates the local issues or activities which have been done or regulated within the boundaries of the state.

The state government is responsible for the welfare of the citizens residing in the state, and it has to act according to the powers and authority decided by the legal authority and constitution of the nation. It can also make the relevant rules for interstate trade.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFederal GovernmentState Government
MeaningThe federal government legislates and operates nationwide. It regulates foreign affairs as well.The state government is operated within the boundaries of the state in which it is governing.
PowersIt has the authority to regulate the functioning of the states.State government can only regulate their governing state and has no authority or power to operate the functioning of other states.
Law-makingFederal Government can formulate a law that is applicable nationwide.It can only formulate the law for the citizens of the state.
Foreign AffairsIt can regulate foreign commerce and affairs.It has no authority to regulate foreign affairs and commerce.
Declaring warThe federal government can declare war or an emergency nationwide.The state government cannot declare war.

What is Federal Government?

For the better functioning of several nations, the government is segmented into two major parts. The word federal government is derived from “federalism”, which consequently means restricting the powers of government by segmenting based on their executive authority over the nation.

The powers are divided into exclusive powers and concurrent powers.

Powers that are restricted to the federal government or state government are termed exclusive powers, while powers that are enjoyed or shared by both federal government and state government are termed as concurrent powers.

The federal government is responsible for regulating and legislating various functions nationwide, including all the states and territories. These functions include:

  1. Regulating the national and international trade
  2. Power to declare war
  3. Responsible for raising the armed force
  4. Manage the foreign affairs

What is State Government?

As the name suggests, the ‘state’ government is the regulating authority that operates the issues and functioning of the state that are particularly incurred within the state boundaries.

The state government is responsible for the safety of the citizens residing in that state. This body of government cannot interfere in international or foreign issues because its power is limited to the state itself. 

Some of the powers of state government are described below:

  1. The state government has the authority to make laws for the welfare of its citizens.
  2. It can regulate or operate commerce from one state to another.
  3. They have the power to set up the local government authority, including municipalities and counties as well.
  4. They can regulate the factories or industries operating in their state.

Main Differences Between Federal Government and State Government

  1. The federal government has more power and responsibilities as compared to the state government because it legislates national and foreign affairs as well and also regulates the functioning of all states. On the other hand, the state government will only regulate the issues and affairs of its state.
  2. The federal government has the authority to establish inferior courts so that it would be easier to regulate the legality, but the state government does not have the power to do so.
  3. The federal government can raise the forces or armies and also responsible for maintaining them, but the state government has no interference in raising the armies. It only works for the citizen residing in its state.
  4. The laws play a significant role in operating a nation. Laws formulated by the federal government are applicable nationwide and followed by all the states, but the laws formulated by the state government are applicable only to the citizens of that state.
  5. It is important to have foreign commerce or trade because it eventually contributes to the economic development of the country. The federal government is responsible for international trade and operates the functioning of commerce related to foreign countries. On the contrary, the state government cannot regulate international trade.
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/109114219001800304
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1065912907304496
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094202516300308
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