At first glance, federation and confederation as forms of state structure something alike. Both are a set of territorial entities of varying degrees of autonomy and are also created as unions and alliances created to defend against external and internal threats. Apart from this, there are minor similarities in the details of the confederation and the federation’s international, financial, and military activities.
This is where their similarities generally end. The differences in the level of integration can be seen in the underlying definitions of the concepts: A confederation is a voluntary association of state entities with full sovereignty. A federation is an association within one state of autonomous territorial entities enjoying certain powers. In general, comparing confederation and federation, it is clear that the federal structure of states currently has more advantages than the confederal one.
In the perspective of the globalization of all spheres of social life, the greater value of confederation is possible. At present, the question of sovereignty in a confederation is debatable, and this is what is central to the debate over whether a confederation is a state.
Examples of Confederations and federations
In most states, the federal structure does not serve as a form of solution to the national question. In India, Belgium, Canada, and Nigeria, the territorial political organization of the state reflect some extent the multinational composition of the population. The 21st-century federations include varying numbers of entities: the United States has 50, Australia 6, Canada 10, Belgium 3, India 25, etc.