Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Power Sharing

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023


Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Power Sharing

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


Democracy is based on the idea that all political power comes from the people or the nation’s citizens. An ideal democracy is one in which all socially significant groups and points of view are treated with respect. And for this reason, it is thought that political authority ought to be shared with as many people as feasible. Consequently, the idea of power-sharing was created.

A power-sharing arrangement divides duties and obligations among various social levels, organs, and groupings. It can come in a variety of shapes. The two most common types are vertical power sharing and horizontal power sharing. No organ has limitless or absolute power under a horizontal power-sharing system but under a vertical power-sharing system, the central government has the most power and the local governments the least.

Horizontal Power-Sharing vs Vertical Power-Sharing

The scopes of power distribution used by horizontal power-sharing and vertical power-sharing differ from one another. Power is distributed among several governmental levels or branches, such as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, through a process known as horizontal power-sharing. Vertical power-sharing, in contrast, involves the distribution of authority among various levels of government, including the national government and regional or local governments.

To guarantee that power is distributed fairly and effectively, it is crucial to understand the distinction between horizontal and vertical power sharing. Horizontal power-sharing serves to ensure that no one branch or level of government may dominate the others and helps to prevent the concentration of power. On the other hand, vertical power sharing enables the proper level of government to make decisions while taking into account the unique requirements and conditions of each region or locale. While vertical power-sharing encourages cooperation between various levels of government, horizontal power-sharing places an emphasis on the division of powers among various branches or levels of government. Both are necessary to guarantee efficient and equitable power distribution in a democracy.

In particular, vertical power-sharing concerns the sharing of power across various levels of government, whereas horizontal power-sharing deals with the sharing of power at the same level of government. The former focuses on maintaining a system of checks and balances by emphasizing the separation of powers, while the latter seeks to encourage collaboration and coordination between various levels of government. Maintaining a functional and balanced political system requires understanding the distinction between horizontal and vertical power-sharing.

Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Power-Sharing (In Tabular Form)

MeaningHorizontal power-sharing is the equitable distribution of power among the various government organs.Vertical power-sharing is the division of authority among the several tries of government.
Checks and BalancesAs a result of each organ’s independence from the others, the other organs are kept in check.The parent central body is the sub-unit of each unit. The main body keeps an eye on the smaller parts.
PowerTo exercise various powers, government agencies operate at the same levels.The power of the various governmental levels is outlined in the Constitution.
Promotes the concept ofDevelopment of Democracy.Increasing Democratic Depth.
PurposeWhile working at the same level and for various purposes, every organ.While each unit operates at a different level, they all have the same goal.
Separation of PowerDifferent governmental branches have different levels of authority.Different governmental levels have different spheres of authority.
AccountabilityAllows for the accountability of various government branches to various groups and interests.Allows for the accountability of various levels of government to various groups and interests.
ExampleA Presidential form of government’s separation of powers and a federal system’s checks and balances are two examples of horizontal power-sharing.A federal government system and a devolutionary system in a unitary system are two examples of vertical power-sharing.

What Is Horizontal Power-Sharing?

A democratic government divides power among three branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The legislative branch creates laws, the executive branch carries them out or enforces them, and the judicial branch interprets them.

A horizontal power-sharing arrangement is one in which the various government agencies are given the same rank or position to execute their authority. As a result, a line of demarcation is kept between the organs, ensuring that no one government entity has absolute power. As each organ checks the other, checks and balances of power are preserved, resulting in a balance of power among various bodies.

Sharing power among many interest groups, including linguistic, religious, and ethnic ones, is another aspect of the process. Horizontal power sharing is used to represent and encourage the inclusion of many viewpoints and interests in decision-making.

What are the advantages of Horizontal Power-Sharing?

  • Encourages collaboration and compromise between various groups.
  • Promotes the inclusion and representation of varied groups in society resulting in more effective and efficient decision-making by the government.
  • Lowering the likelihood of a single party or person coming to hold all the power.
  • Encourages democracy and guards against a totalitarian government.
  • Enables the peaceful settlement of disputes between groups.
  • Over government policies and actions, a sense of shared ownership can be established.

What are the Disadvantages of Horizontal Power-Sharing?

  • Multiple groups’ demands for agreement can cause decision-making to stall or come to a standstill.
  • It may result in a disjointed administration that is unable to successfully carry out programs or make decisions.
  • Power imbalances or unequal representation of certain groups are both possible.
  • It might lead to the emergence of opposing factions or interest groups that put their interests before those of society.
  • Increases the possibility of power abuse or corruption by those looking to gain an edge.
  • Multiple groups sharing responsibility can result in a lack of accountability.
  • In this setting, the majority group may oppress or marginalize minority groups.

Branches of Horizontal Power-Sharing in India

In India, the Supreme Court falls under the Judiciary Organ, while the Executive Organ is made up of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, and the Legislative Organ is made up of the Parliament or Legislative Assembly.

  • The Executive Branch: The President, the Prime Minister, who serves as the head of state, along with the president’s advisors and several departments make up the executive branch. The executive branch of the government has the highest authority and is directly responsible for carrying out its duties. On a federal level, it handles all state business.
  • The Legislative Branch: The upper and lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), as well as the President, make up the legislative arm of the government.
  • The Judiciary Branch: The Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch, which also includes 21 high courts and several civil, criminal, and family courts at the district level.

What Is Vertical Power-Sharing?

Vertical power-sharing involves dividing the executive branch’s authority between the upper and lower levels of government. The authorities of each level of government are clearly stated in the constitution, and the lower organ functions under the higher one. The Federal Division of Power refers to this. A national government as well as provincial and regional governments coexist under this power-sharing framework.

The general government in India is referred to as the Central Government, while the local and regional governments are referred to as the State Government and Local Self Government, respectively. So, there are some issues on which the Union government has the sole authority to decide, and there are some issues on which the State governments are given the authority to decide an issue that affects their State. This guarantees that decision-making takes into account the needs and concerns of local communities and that power is not centralized in one central government. By using devolution, federalism, or other strategies, decentralization can be accomplished.

Generally speaking, the national government is in charge of the country’s development, whereas state governments are in charge of the development of their respective states.

What are the Advantages of Vertical Power-Sharing?

  • Each level of government has distinct duties and authority.
  • Accountability and openness are improved as a result of the distinct responsibilities assigned to each level of government.
  • Local governments can take care of certain requirements and issues in the community.
  • It is necessary for different governmental levels to coordinate and work together.
  • Citizens are more likely to participate in governance when they have direct access to their local legislators.
  • A more effective use of resources since each level of government may concentrate on its duties.
  • Adaptability and flexibility in the face of shifting objectives and conditions.

What are the Disadvantages of Vertical Power-Sharing?

  • It’s feasible that government at higher levels has more power and resources than at lower levels.
  • Duplication of effort and resource waste can result from poor communication between levels of government.
  • Across regions or jurisdictions, there is both uniformity and inconsistency in policies and regulations.
  • Governmental policies and rules may differ at different levels.
  • Administrative costs may go up when several levels of government coordinate and communicate.
  • A fragmented governance system may be challenging for corporations and citizens to navigate.
  • There is a chance of developing a system that is less respective to the demands and goals of residents.

Main Differences Between Horizontal and Vertical Power-Sharing (In Points)

  • Different government organs that hold the same rank or position share power according to the horizontal power-sharing system. In contrast, the Constitution divides the power among the many tiers of government in a vertical power-sharing system, starting at the highest level and working down.
  • Different branches of the government, such as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, share power in a horizontal power-sharing system. Vertical power-sharing is the division of power among various tiers of government including the federal, state, and municipal.
  • There is a line in the horizontal division of power that ensures no government body has unrestricted authority. On the other hand, with a vertical power structure, the Constitution grants various degrees of authority to the various levels of government.
  • A horizontal power-sharing model allows government agencies to wield a variety of powers while being located on the same level. Contrarily, in a vertical power-sharing system, the Constitution outlines the authority of various governments.
  • The finest aspect of horizontal power-sharing is that each organ oversees the operation of the others, as opposed to vertical power-sharing, when the higher organ oversees the lower organ because they both function under it.
  • The idea of expanding democracy is supported by the horizontal division of power. On the other hand, the vertical separation of powers frequently encourages the strengthening of democracy.
  • All government agencies function at the same level and for various objectives when power is shared horizontally. In contrast, all of the units and subunits at various levels cooperate to achieve a single objective under a vertical power-sharing model.
  • Vertical power-sharing can grant minority groups autonomy and self-governance in a larger state, while, the other hand, horizontal power-sharing can preserve minority groups’ rights by providing representation for them at various levels of government.


Political authority is initially undivided because it is thought that if power is shared, decision-making will be delayed. But these ideas have changed with the advent of democracy. The power-sharing agreements provide the general public additional influence, allowing them to choose their representatives and participate in the formulation of public policy.

Both horizontal and vertical power-sharing include the division of power among many groups or institutions. Both forms of power-sharing aim to encourage inclusion and diversity in decision-making. A single organization or person from concentrating their power can be avoided by utilizing both forms of power-sharing. The implementation of horizontal and vertical power-sharing can be done through a federal or decentralized system of government. Both forms of power-sharing have the potential to promote societal stability. To ensure accountability and stop the misuse of authority, checks and balances can be utilized both horizontally and vertically. Power-sharing on both the horizontal and vertical levels can be employed to encourage the representation and involvement of marginalized groups in politics.


  • https://testbook.com/key-differences/difference-between-horizontal-power-sharing-and-vertical-power-sharing
  • https://lawrato.com/indian-kanoon/civil-law/difference-between-vertical-and-horizontal-power-sharing-2869


Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Power Sharing." Diffzy.com, 2023. Fri. 22 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-horizontal-and-vertical-power-sharing>.

Edited by

Share this article