ETYM Cf. French fédéralisme.
The idea of a federal organization of more or less self-governing units.
System of government in which two or more separate states unite into a federation under a common central government. A federation should be distinguished from a confederation, a looser union of states for mutual assistance. The US is an example of federal government.
The US federal government is organized with an executive branch, a legislature, and a judiciary; each has means to control both of the other branches, thus creating a system of checks and balances, which was considered necessary for fair governing by the framers of the US Constitution. Each of the 50 states retains rights and privileges that overlap with those of the branches of the federal government. When jurisdiction is challenged, cases are decided by the US Supreme Court of the judiciary branch, thus creating constitutional law.
Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and Malaysia have federal governments, and many supporters of the European Union see it as the forerunner of a federal Europe.