Difference between Confederation and Federation

The upcoming discussion will update you about the difference between confederation and federation. 

A confederation is a loose union of some sovereign states who do not surrender or shed their sovereign powers. They carry on their national flag and currency. They get together under the umbrella of an organisation for some specific and temporary purpose. The union is of a temporary nature. The resolutions passed by the central organisation are addressed to the states forming the confederation.

This need not be followed by the citizens of the states. The confederating states evolve some common defence and foreign policy or some other issues of common interest. It is not a new state. It retains its own flag, currency and citizenship. This type of association of sovereign states was very popular in ancient Greece. In the medieval period we find confederations like the Lambared League, the Hanseatic League and the Rhenish League.

There is a gulf of difference between a confederation and a federation. We shall now point out these differences.

First, a confederation is a temporary association of the sovereign states. They retain their sovereign power even after the formation of the confederation. In a federation which is of a permanent nature, the federating states cease to have their sovereign character on the formation of the federation. The confederation does not create any new state. But federation is a creation of a new state.

Secondly, the resolutions passed by the central organisation of the confederation are not of the status of law. These are academic in nature and are not enforceable in a court of law. But laws made by the federal government are binding on all. The federal authority, the units and the citizens are all to obey these laws.

Thirdly, a confederation does not create a new state. It is a loose union. But the federation is the creation of a new state. In a federation the units are under the canopy of a protecting tree. That tree is the central authority or the federal authority.

Fourthly, the degree of association in a confederation is not so deep as in a federation. Federation is a rigid union, but a confederation is a loose union. A member-state of a confederation can break away from the union. But a member state in the federation cannot leave the federation.

Lastly, there is double citizenship in a federation. An individual residing in a federation is the citizen of the federal or central state and he is at the same time the citizen of the province of his domicile. Thus a person living in the province of Virginia is a citizen of the USA and also a citizen of Virginia. A confederation cannot have any citizen. All its citizens belong to the confederating states.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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