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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 ?
He said Kurdistan would have a petroleum boom but the confederal state would be more like Norway than Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.
In fact, the KRG has gone as far as exercising confederal powers in its territory, having its own flag, armed forces, foreign relations and visas for those other Iraqis visiting its region.
Bookchin places this emphasis on citizenship, face-to-face municipal politics under the rubric of "libertarian municipalism" a strategy based on human-scale eco-communities linked through confederal bodies guided by reason and ethics rather than profit and the private accumulation of power.
Sudan's peace agreements envisage a confederal system between governments in the North and South, but leave the West and East out of the process.
Separate versions of a "three-state solution" were proposed by Leslie Gelb and by Peter Galbraith in 2004, both based on interpretations of the post-Tito Yugoslav confederal model, in which three republics would control their own natural resources, whereas the central government would control only foreign and defense affairs, the sharing of oil wealth and such matters as health.
Even the scheme for a Democratic Confederal Republic calls for an establishment of a 'combined national army' and a common foreign policy posture prior to the political integration of the two Koreas.
We use it to shape domestic policy within our own borders; we share and divide sovereignty in the creation and negotiation of federal and confederal constitutions; we protect it by patrolling our airspace, land mass, sea lanes and coastal waters with our armed forces; and we use it to make agreements with other sovereign governments that duly and democratically elected Canadian governments deem to be in our national interest.
I am quite certain that Milosevic did not favour any kind of Yugoslavia that was federal or confederal.
The SPLA, for its part, wants to include the "marginalised areas" of Northern Sudan within the southern portion of a proposed confederal state.
Walzer argues that this "completion" of the state system can then be followed by its "complication" through freely chosen federal or confederal arrangements.
I grant that NAFTA is largely a trade and economic blueprint, and European integration in addition incorporates some confederal and, in some areas, some federal overarching infrastructure.
Article VI develops the structure, that is, the Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council, that would provide any future confederal relationship between the two countries with a central authority.

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