Competitive Exams: Political Science Study Material: Glossary F

Political Science Glossary: F


The term fascism is derived from the fasces of ancient Rome, a bundle of rods with a projecting axe symbolizing unity and authority, which was adopted by Benito Mussolini for his new Italian political movement in the 1920s. The other important fascist parties created in the years between the First and Second World Wars were those led by Hitler in Germany and Franco in Spain. Fascist governments were also installed in much of central Europe before and during the Second World War.

Federal State

Federalism is a constitutional arrangement in which the powers and responsibilities of the Government are divided between the Union or the Federal Government and the Provincial or the State Governments through the written Constitution. Both the Governments are autonomous in their respective jurisdictions. The United State of America is the first Federal State in the world, which came into being in 1789. The other characteristics of a Federal State are: Rigid Constitution, independent federal Judiciary, double citizenship, etc. Indian Constitution also provides for a Federal System of Government, but the distribution of powers is tilted in favour of a strong Central Government. Thus, it is remarked that the Indian Constitution is federal in form but it is unitary in spirit.

Fifth Column

It refers to a group or persons within a country, which conspire with foreign countries against the national interests of their own country. The fifth column is found involved in such clandestine activities as inciting violence and disaffection among the people, organising rebellion against the Government or sending vital strategic information to the foreign enemy country.


The practice of filibustering is frequently used by the members in the Legislative process of the American Senate. It means a practice of prolonging a debate on a bill or a matter by speaking unduly long time by members so that the voting on the bill would not be held and the Bill shall be dropped, as its allocated time has lapsed in the discussion, without passing the same. This practice is possible because there is no time limit for the members to speak in the House.

Floor Crossing

The practice of floor crossing refers to the defection of a Member of Parliament from the party he was elected to another political party. The practice of defection indicates the lack of ideological hold of the party over its members and it leads to instability in the Government or disregard to the people's mandate.

Fourth Estate

The term Fourth Estate refers to the press and media and it was used for the first time by Edmund Burke. In England, the three classes sharing power in Government were called the Three Estates-Lord Spiritual, Lord Temporal and Commons. Eventually with the growing influence of the press in public affairs, it was recognised as the Fourth Estate. In the French political society before the revolution of 1789, the Pope, the King and the rising bourgeoisie were termed as the Three Estates.

Fourth World

The term Fourth World is used for those poor countries of the Third World, which are at the bottom of the development scale. These countries are either less developed or the development process is yet to start. Some of the characteristics of the countries included in the fourth world are, a very poor economic base, lack of industrial development and high share of agricultural production in GNP, excessive dependence on foreign financial resources and resulting acute problem of debt trap.

Free Trade

It means reduction in and gradual elimination of the tariff and quota restrictions imposed on the foreign trade (imports) by different countries. With the elimination of such restrictions, the flow of the foreign trade in both the directions becomes smooth and easy. The present phase of globalisation supports the practice of free trade among all the countries.