20+ Difference between Federation And Confederation (Explained)

Confederation and federation are two words that describe the same idea, but they mean something quite different.

For the sake of political, economic, or administrative expediency, states in a confederation join forces to form a loose union. Member states of a confederation keep their autonomy while appointing a weak central authority to expedite bureaucratic procedures. 

As an alternative, joining a federation involves states or provinces giving up some of their independence and reporting to the federal government, which enforces laws and regulations.

On the other hand, members of a confederation have a great deal of autonomy and independence and can (nearly) freely quit the union when they want to do so. Still, members of a federation are compelled to obey the central government’s authority and preserve limited powers.

Comparison Between Federation And Confederation

SovereigntyThe United States government currently has control of this item. The federal government of a Federation will have the utmost authority, and the individual states that make up the federation will be subservient to the central government.The member states’ responsibility to hold. The member states of a confederation are the highest power in the nation, and the federal government must answer to them as the ultimate authority.
AuthorityA federal government is the central authority of a federation, and it is responsible for governing the individual member states.In a confederation, the central authority is typically a feeble entity that is appointed by the individual member nations.
PowerThe federation’s constitution will determine this, but generally, the federation will have the right to exercise control over the member states’ diplomatic, military, economic, and legal realms.Most of the time, the focus will be on problems of joint military and foreign policy problems, but very seldom will they have the capacity to do much more than that.
ExampleCountries such as Canada, the United States of America, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Russia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Australia, and Sudan, as well as many others, are included in this list.The Toltec Empire, the League of Mayapan, the Crown of Aragon, the Confederation of Madya-as, the Old Swiss Confederacy, the New England Confederacy, the Aro Confederacy, the United States of America (1781-1789), and the Confederation of the Rhine are just some of the many confederations that have existed throughout history.
comparison between federation & confederation

Major Difference Between Federation And Confederation

What exactly is Federation?

Individual states come together to form a federation under the direction of a central authority.

For the most part, the choice to join a federation of states is a product of a protracted historical process or the transition from a confederation (a temporary and voluntary arrangement) to one that is. A constitution specifies the distribution of power between the people and the government. 

Some degree of autonomy can be maintained for the states and provinces participating in a federation. It is possible for the federal government to intervene in the legal and economic affairs of the various member states and provinces as well.

Central government policies and regulations apply to federation members by the constitution, and constituents are legally obligated to comply with these restrictions.

Key Difference: Federation

  • Today, federations are much more frequent than in the past, and many confederations established many centuries ago eventually transformed into federations.
  • The constituents are subject to a significant amount of power and influence from the federal government.
  • When individual states band together to form a federation, they give birth to a new nation-state, complete with a functional and powerful government at its center. 
  • The constituents give up some of their autonomy and authority, and the central government gains the capacity.
  • This happens so that they make choices regarding matters of national security, the military, foreign policy, and diplomacy.
  • In a federation, the bonds that bind the states and provinces to one another are of a considerably stronger nature. 
  • In contrast, states cannot withdraw from the union if they are members of a federation because of the existence of legally binding agreements. 
  • As the various units of a federation come together to form a new nation-state, the relations between the states that make up the federation become stronger.
features of federation

What exactly is Confederation?

Federated nations or provinces unite for various political, economic, and security reasons. Each state’s or province’s government has the last say on whether or not to join a confederation, which is purely voluntary.

In the confederation, the constituents retain their sovereignty and power (nearly all), and there is no higher, united central government once they’ve entered.

If the confederation is structured properly, a weak central body selected by all members could be established to expedite bureaucratic procedures and improve communication. 

It began as a confederation, but after the constitution was written and signed by all of its members, the United States became one nation under one government.

The ideals that underpin international organizations are comparable to those of a confederation. Even though the European Union has not been defined as such, it has a comparable structure, partly because of legally binding instruments that prevent nations from joining or leaving the union at their discretion.

Key Difference: Confederation

  • Ancient Greece and Europe throughout the Middle Ages were prolific periods for forming confederations.
  • Nevertheless, there are not many examples of confederations that exist today. Both have a structure that is comparable to that of international organizations.
  • Confederations were loose agreements that did not have a written constitution, whereas international organizations had legal treaties and enforcement mechanisms. 
  • The central government’s powers and responsibilities differ significantly between the two regions. 
  • To begin, there is no central government in the traditional sense of a confederation; rather, there is a weak body that is elected by the individual member states.
  • In a confederation, the central government does not possess any de facto power, and its sole purpose is to expedite the decision-making process and speed up communication.
  • In point of fact, member nations of a confederation make a pact to cooperate with one another for a variety of reasons.
  • But, they are not bound to one another by law and are free to withdraw from or leave the confederation at any time they want, depending on the type of confederation.
features of confedration

Contrast Between Federation And Confederation


  • Federation- The term “federation” refers to a political entity composed of multiple regional states or constituents combined into a single group and governed centrally.
  • Confederation- The confederation is a union of sovereign states that is more or less permanent and is based on mutual interests and political, economic, or even administrative convenience.

Overarching authority: 

  • Federation- The federal government, which governs the individual states that comprise the federation, serves as the federation’s central authority.
  • Confederation- It is typical for the member states of a confederation to appoint a weak nominal entity to serve as the union’s central authority.

Creation of States: 

  • Federation- The federation represents the formation of a brand-new state.
  • Confederation- No new states will be formed due to the confederation.


  • Federation- The requirement to become a member of a federation is imposed.
  • Confederation- Whereas participation in a confederation is entirely voluntary for the governments involved. As a result, individuals who are part of a confederation have the ability to withdraw from the union whenever they see fit.


  • Federation- The individual states that make up a federation are stripped of their sovereignty and placed under the authority of a centralized body.
  • Confederation- The individual states that make up a confederation, on the other hand, keep their own sovereignty even after the merger. The primary distinction between the federation and the confederation is found here.


  • Federation- The Federation possesses a constitution in written form.
  • Confederation- The constitution of the confederation has not been written down.


  • Federation- The laws that the federal government makes, as well as the member states that are required to obey and enforce those laws, are the subject of the resolutions that are passed by federations.
  • Confederation- On the other hand, the resolutions that the confederation has passed do not have the status of law; rather, they are generally academic or deal with joint foreign policy, etc. As a result, the member states are not obligated to carry out the resolutions that have been voted on.


  • Federation- A confederation might be thought of as a more flexible union than a federation, which is a more rigorous union.
  • Confederation- When compared to a federation, the level of association that exists inside a confederation is shallower.


  • Federation- Russia, China, the United States of America, Belgium, Austria, Australia, and Germany are only some instances of federations.
  • Confederation- Examples of confederations include the European Union (EU), the indigenous confederations of North America, the Old Swiss Confederacy, the Confederation of the Rhine, and other similar organizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why was a confederal government formed?

In a confederal system, independent states voluntarily organize a league or alliance for mutual help and defense against foreign assault.

By joining, smaller nations and political groupings can develop larger, more effective defense forces. They can also adopt norms and procedures to prevent fighting within the confederation. These were significant to the Articles of Confederation’s drafters.

Q2. What are some of the characteristics of a confederation?

A confederal government can’t tax, arrest, conscript, or control commerce among its member states. Only member states can act.

Without tax powers, a confederal government has no independent revenue streams. It relies on member donations or dues.

Q3. What are the voting rules in a confederation?

In confederal decision-making councils, the majority vote is frequently abandoned in favor of supermajority and unanimous voting.

Even if all thirteen states had chosen to use their substantial, explicitly given rights, it would not have been possible for the confederal congress to do so.

Q4. What is meant by federalism?

There are two types of federalism: the “federal” kind, which combines a central government (called the “federal government”) with regional governments (such as provinces, states, cantons, or other sub-unit governments).

Q5. What is a republic system?

A republic is a system of government in which the people hold the supreme power along with their representatives who the people elected.

Republics are governed on the principle that the nation itself is a public issue and not the private concern or property of its rulers.

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