The term "federalism" describes a form of political organization which unites separate groups (of national or ethnic differences) under a single political system in such a way as to enable each group to maintain its fundamental political autonomy and character. To do so, power is distributed among the central and the local governing bodies, and this distribution may result in or reflect discrimination against one or more or the federated groups. The rebellion thus provoked leads to further repression.
When a system is federal in name only, there is usually a high degree of centralization and bureaucracy in order that domination over diverse political groups may be achieved.
Political parties under a federal system are characterized by fragmentation and a lack of central discipline.