The fundamental and distinguishing characteristic of a federal system is that neither the central nor the regional governments are subordinate to each other, but rather, the two are co-ordinate and independent.

Wheare, a Federalist
Wheare, a Federalist

In a federation, each government enjoys autonomy, a separate existence and independence of the control of any other government. Each government exists, not as an appendage of another government (e.g. the federal or central government) but as an autonomous entity in the sense of being able to exercise its own will on the conduct of its affairs free from direction by any government. Thus, the Central Government on the one hand and the State Governments on the other hand are autonomous in their respective spheres.

Prof. Itsey Sagay- A Federalist
Prof. Itsey Sagay- A Federalist