This note deals with an important question in political debate at the end of century: has federalism a future? Do democracy problems need a federal reform fo State organization? Coping with questions as these require baic conceptual work, whose starting point is a distinction between federalism as ideological discourse and federalism as institutional system. The future of federalism has no be treated in the two different contexts of analysis, which have diffrent implications for theory and practice of federalism. Secondary, the question and the two different contexts of analysis must be applied to political systems which are as well as others which are not characterized by federal arrangements. What emerges in conclusion is a situation in which we find tendencies in one direction and countertendecies in others: federalism and federation seem to find their own place in a multi-faces scenario of this kind.