Unitary State is that state in which all the powers are vested with one central government and the local governments exist and operate only in a way as is desired by the central government. It involves the creation of a single integrated system of government vested with all the powers which it can exercise by itself or through the delegation of some of these powers to the local governments.
The local governments work as administrative units of the central government. Their powers and role depend upon the wishes of the central government. The Centre Government has the power to change, territorial or other features of the system of local governments.
Britain, France, Japan, Italy, China and several other countries are unitary states. Since a unitary state is characterised by a single central government, it is popularly conceptualized as a unitary government. On the basis of these definitions, we can define a Unitary state as the one in which all powers are possessed by a single central government which creates and delegates some of its powers to the local governments working in local areas or provinces of the state.
Features of a Unitary State:
We can identify the following features of a Unitary Government:
1. A Single Central all-powerful Government:
In a unitary state, all the powers are vested with one single central government whose authority is supreme over all the parts of the state. It alone legislates for the entire state. Local Governments can make rules under powers specifically delegated to them by the central government.
2. Local Governments exist at the will of the Central Government:
In a unitary state, the local governments are created and given powers by the central government. These work as administrative units or as departments of the central government. They operate as the central government directs. Their boundaries and powers can be changed at will by the central government.
3. Constitution can be Written or Unwritten:
Since there is no division of powers and all the powers belong to the central government, there is no special need for a written constitution. The constitution can be written or unwritten in accordance with the wishes of the people.
4. Flexibility of the Constitution and Administration:
The central government alone has the power to amend the constitution and in this sense the constitution of a unitary state is always flexible.
5. Single Uniform Administration:
The existence of an all-powerful central government exercising power over all the people and places leads to the existence of a single, stable and strong administration for the whole state. The administration is simple in organisation and direct in approach towards all local and national issues. It has neither the complexities arising out of double citizenship and dual administration as characterise a federation. It is a system of government run by a single executive, single legislature and single judicial system.