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1. a loose alliance of political units. The union of the Swiss cantons is the oldest surviving confederation
2. (esp in Canada) another name for a federation



(1) A permanent union of sovereign states founded to achieve common goals, usually political or military. The confederation forms central bodies with powers delegated by member states. As a rule, these bodies do not have direct power over the member states. Their decisions, based on the principle of unanimity, may be implemented in a member state only with the consent of its agencies of power. A confederation’s finances usually consist of contributions made by member states. In a confederation there is no uniform tax or legal system.

There have been several well-known confederations, including the League of Rhenish Towns (1254–1350), the Hanseatic League (1367–1669), the Swiss Confederation (1291–1798 and 1815-48), the Netherlands (the United Provinces, 1579–1795), the United States of America (1781–87), and the German Confederation (1815–66). The Confederate States of America (1861–65) were formed during the Civil War in the USA, when the federal system temporarily disintegrated. As a rule, a confederation precedes the formation of a federation. Although it is, in fact, a federation, Switzerland is still formally referred to as a confederation.

(2) The term “confederation,” meaning union, is sometimes used in the names of various organizations, such as the General Confederation of Labor in France, the General Confederation of Labor in Italy, the Japanese Labor Confederation, the Confederation of British Industries, and the Confindustria (General Confederation of Industry) in Italy.



(in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), between the 16th and 18th centuries, a temporary political union of armed szlachta (nobility). When the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was without a king after the death of Sigismund II Augustus (1572) and in subsequent interregna, a confederation was formed at the Convocation Sejm, which declared itself to be the General, or Hooded, Confederation— that is, the supreme organ of authority. From the early 17th century the szlachta ever more frequently formed political unions (called general confederations) at the national level in order to defend their class interests. Local confederations were also formed at the województwo level. Sometimes a confederation was transformed into a rokosz, or uprising of szlachta against the king. The most famous confederations were those of Bar (1768) and Targowica (1792).

References in periodicals archive ?
Should the Kurds embrace autonomy and confederalism, they will need to resolve questions regarding what laws will be supreme: those of the region or of the country to which they belong?
A poll released this week by RTL TV shows the two communities more distant than ever: while a large majority of Flemings support independence, confederalism or greater autonomy, an equally large majority of French speakers want to keep the current model.
By examining the Confederation of the United States (1781-1787), the Swiss Confederation (1815-1848), and the German Confederation (1815-1866), this book makes an important and timely contribution to the renewed interest in confederalism.
Doubtlessly inspired by his 34 years of service in the United Nations secretariat, he emphasizes the importance of confederalism for global governance in particular.
We call for positive neutrality without relinquishing Arabism and Arab causes, civic laws without relinquishing religious values and beliefs, vast decentralization without establishing confederalism," he said.
During the years of apartheid, the concepts and discourse of federalism and confederalism were used to help justify the existence of the Bantustans.
In countering this worldlessness, she addressed a number of issues central to the problem of human rights: the incompatibility of national sovereignty with human dignity and civic responsibility; the need to rethink the ethical foundations of human rights at a time when liberal pieties about natural rights had lost all credibility; and the need for new forms of politics - international jurisprudence, regional and global forms of confederalism, unofficial forms of civic initiative - to afford political empowerment to ordinary citizens and ground a commitment to human dignity.
Baroud highlighted the administrative aspect of administrative decentralization, stressing it had nothing to do with confederalism.
The reasons for choosing the new form, federalism, over confederalism emerge from The Federalist.
The obvious analytical distinction would seem to point to the difference between federalism and confederalism.
Both have to mediate the centripetal dynamics of integration, termed cooperative confederalism here, and the centrifugal dynamics which are found in the strongly entrenched territorial nature of power, centered on the member states.
Where communitarian liberty is a predominant value to be secured through federalism, then the preferred form may be some type of confederalism wherein the general government has very limited authority to interfere with constituent self-governance in ways that might unglue communal solidarity.

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