Federation vs Confederation
Federation and confederation are terms used to describe the political arrangements of different countries where the constituent states or member states come together to form a body. Some countries are called federations while many others are examples of confederations depending upon the agreement between the member states, to accept the constitution of the country. This article attempts to highlight the differences though because of similarities and overlapping, many of the differences have blurred to a great extent.
Federation is a political system in which there is sharing of powers between the federal government and the states as laid out in a written constitution. Apparently, the states or the provinces that agree to form a federation do not seem to be controlled by the federal government though the powers to maintain foreign relations with other countries; security of the member states, defense, and the currency of the country is in the hands of the federal government. There are many examples of the federation in the world, and Canada seems to be a good example where the constituents are called provinces that have come together under the umbrella of a federation to be recognized as a single entity in the eyes of the rest of the world.
A confederation is another system of governance where the constituent units, while retaining their identity, agree to come together for matters of administrative convenience and agree to transfer only specified powers to the central government. This is done to have better efficiency and also for security reasons. In a confederation, the constituent units are powerful and seem to be controlling the central government. In a sense, this arrangement is similar to intergovernmental organizations such as the European Union as member states still have their autonomy. United States started out as a confederation, but with the ratification of the constitution by the member states one by one, it later got converted into a federation.
What is the difference between Federation and Confederation?
• Confederation is a political arrangement where the member states retain their autonomy and seem to be controlling the central government.
• In a federation, the new entity becomes a sovereign state, and the member states are states for the sake of courtesy only.
• In a confederation, the rules made by the central government have to be ratified by the member states and is not a law until it has been passed by the constituents.
• On the other hand, the rules made by the central government are laws unto themselves and become binding on the citizens living in the constituent member states.
• Confederation is an arrangement where the new political figure is not a sovereign state while, in the case of a federation, the new entity is a nation state
• A confederation is a loose association of members coming together for convenience where as federation is a deeper union of states.