Difference Between Federation and Confederation

Main Difference

The main difference between the terms Federation and Confederation is that in a federation the sovereignty of the members ceases to exist with its formation whereas in a confederation the members retain their sovereignty even after the confederation is formed.

Federation vs. Confederation

Federation and confederation are the two political and strategic agreements among provinces or countries, created to enable the constituents for political and economic benefits. Federation is a political entity of regional constituents or states. The member states unite into a single group. These member states have centralized control. Confederation is a permanent union of sovereign states. These states share common interests and economic, political, or administrative convenience.

In a federation, the states come together to create a loose union for the matters of political, economic or administrative convenience. The member states maintain their sovereignty and often appoint a weak central authority to speed up bureaucratic matters in a confederation. The federal government is central or sovereign of the federation. It conducts the member states. However, in a confederation, the central authority is a nominal body that is appointed by the member states. Confederation is a weak authority.

The federal government has great control and influence over the constituents. There is no central government in a confederation, but a weak body elected by member states.

When the states come together to create a federation, they create a new nation-state, with a functioning and powerful central government. The membership of the member states is not voluntary in a federation. The constituents lose part of their authority, and the central government acquires the ability to make all the decisions regarding foreign policy, national security, military, and diplomacy. However, confederation is an opposite system in which the central government has no power. It is only in place to facilitate the decision-making process and to speed up communication. Federation is among the sub-regions in a state whereas confederation is among the several states.

Comparison Chart

FederationConfederation
A political entity of regional constituents or states that are united into a single group with centralized controlA loose union of some states where the member states retain their sovereign power even after the formation of the confederation
Sovereignty
The member statesThe federal government
Membership
Mandatory to the stateVoluntary to the state
Written constitution
It hasIt does not have
It is Among
Sub-regions within a stateSeveral states
Members Sovereignty
CeasedExists
Association
StrongLoose

What is the Federation?

Federation is a political and strategic agreement among provinces or countries, created to enable the constituents for political and economic benefits. The basis of the concept of federation is the governing political system. Federation is a political entity of regional constituents or states. These states unite with centralized control into a single group.

Usually, the states with numerous provinces, large territories, and regions follow the system of the federation. Provinces and state members of a federation do not entirely lose their power and enjoy a certain degree of autonomy. The nation’s constitution usually mandates this degree of sovereignty.

It is unconstitutional for any of the party to break this mandate. In a federation, the individual states can also maintain separate traditions, laws, and habits. But the central government has authority over foreign policy, international relations, defense, decision to start or end a war, security matters, diplomacy, national currency, and military.

In a federation, the member states come together to create a loose union for matters of economic, political, or administrative convenience. The federal government acts as the sovereign or central authority of the federation.

This federal government governs all the member states. When the states come together to create a federation, they create a new nation-state, with a functioning and powerful central government. Federation is usually created among sub-regions within a state. In simple words, a federation is a political system in which the member states come together under the umbrella of a central authority.

Examples

Russia, China, USA, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Germany

What is Confederation?

A confederation is a system of governance where the states and provinces, come together for economic, political, security or administrative reasons. Confederation is a union of some sovereign states. The member states in the system of a confederation retain their sovereignty and power.

The member states often appoint a weak central authority to speed up bureaucratic matters in a confederation. The central authority in a confederation is a weak nominal body. The member states appoint it. Confederation is usually formed by a treaty as a way of dealing with important issues such as defense, economic relations, and foreign affairs.

The central government provides support for its member states in this regard. Confederation is a system in which the central government has no power. It only facilitates the decision-making process and to speed up communication.

Confederation is a system opposite to federation in which the central government has no power. It is only in place to facilitate the decision-making process and to speed up communication. The system of confederation is among the several states. It depends on the will of the government or on the local authority of every province and individual state to enter a confederation. It means that the member states have their sovereign identity.

The states also have their political, economic, and autonomous policies even after the formation of the union. In a confederation, there is no common military, unitary budget, common diplomatic representatives, common foreign policy strategy, and common legal system.

Examples

EU, Indigenous confederations in North America, Old Swiss Confederacy, Confederation of the Rhine

Key Differences

  1. Federation is a political entity of regional member states which are united into a single group with some centralized control while confederation is a permanent union of the sovereign member states based on the common interests, political, economic or administrative convenience.
  2. The member states in a federation are controlled by the central authority by losing their sovereignty on the flip side the member states in a confederation retain their sovereignty even after their union.
  3. The member states in a federation come together creating a loose union for matters of political, economic or administrative convenience, on the other hand, the member states in a confederation maintain their sovereignty and often appoint a weak central authority to accelerate bureaucratic matters.
  4. Federation refers to the system of the creation of a separate state. Conversely, confederation does not refer to the creation of any new state.
  5. In a federation, the sovereignty of the members ceases to exist with its formation whereas, in a confederation, the members retain their sovereignty even after the confederation is formed.
  6. Federation has a written constitution on the contrary confederation does not have a written constitution.
  7. Federation is among the sub-regions within a state inversely confederation is among the several states.

Conclusion

Federation and confederation both are the two different forms of government systems of the world. Both the systems are different from each other, and the difference between them lies in the sovereign status of their member states.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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