What Does Centralization in Government Mean?

A centralized government is put in place with high hopes of mainstreaming revenue and maintaining peace and prosperity among its people. Although in proficient use in many countries around the world today, as with many man-made plans with lofty goals it can have its shortcomings.

The simplest definition of a centralized government is that it gives absolute political authority for the proper function of the economy and other governing bodies to a small group of individuals or person. While this seems efficient, there are advantages and disadvantages to this specific type of ruling by a governing body.

History of Centralized Government

Monarchies emerged as one of the first centralized governments in antediluvian times. While the monarch had absolute power, he or she administered local and regional duties to members of the governing body. Ancient Chinese, Greek, Roman and the United Kingdom ran successful, vast and long-reigning empires on various centralized government-based systems.

There are quite a few centralized governments in power today. Many countries with a constitution are, to some extent, centralized with a federal authority exerting power over regional authorities while those regional authorities maintain a certain amount of power over local issues. Spain, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ukraine are a few of the major countries currently running under a centralized government system.

Advantages and Disadvantages

A centralized government is put in place to give direct control over the ebb and flow of a country’s finances. It gathers taxes and other major revenues and monitors spending within every level of its structure beneath the main governing body. This creates a more shaped and shared culture as everything that creates the country, from its food supplies to the building of its entertainment centers, is funneled through one main group all working toward the same goal. The sense of common culture can also create a sense of oneness that needs to be protected from outside influences, so national security tends to be stepped up in countries run by a centralized government.

Unfortunately, this type of government, while working hard for the whole, can become oppressive to the individual or groups of individuals in its society that have a difficult time fitting in with the general purpose of the centralized government system. If the governing body makes a decision on international diplomacy that may be detrimental to its people, it can be catastrophic to its existence. A lack of a system of checks and balances can turn one bad decision into a crisis that ripples throughout the governing body and the people depending on it to run smoothly. This type of system also opens areas for individuals with power to overextend their reach, leading to corruption, oppression and absolutism that can erode the ideals of a centralized government.