While most students of federalism feel satisfied with defining it as involving self-rule and shared rule, there is an inherent laxity in that definition because several institutional forms have dual components of self-rule and shared rule. It is therefore necessary to find out if federalism is an equivalent of all self-rule – shared rule systems of government or not. This requires an effort to locate the implication of federalism in federal related political institutions, by exploring the conceptual distinctions between related terms such as federalism, federation, federal government, federal political systems, confederation, and decentralized union. Hence, this article aims at distinguishing these concepts, as well as identifying the interlinkage and relationship that exists between them. The goal is to reduce the level of uncertainty associated with the meaning of federalism in the contemporary political culture, and also, to make it less contested and distinct from other federal kindred terms.
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