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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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In particular, and for the first time, all cantons, small and large, received one vote in the confederal Diet or council.
This consultation gave the confederal unions the moral legitimacy they needed to sign a tripartite accord with government and organized business on January 22,1983.
Instead, they were operating in a manner consistent with a confederal view of the international business environment.
It is this union or confederal government which would be charged with foreign affairs, defence, trade, currency, citizenship, and the environment.
Many Sunni and Shiite leaders in Iraq have told me privately they favor a new constitution for a confederal Iraq that would include a Sunni regional government, as well as a Kurdish one.
A four-way battle is currently taking place among European Greens to select the duo who will lead the election campaign, while the Confederal Group of the European United Left (GUE) is expected to endorse left-wing Greek politician Alexis Tsipras later this month as its electoral leader.
They only call for peaceful coexistence and a confederal system between the two nations.
According to a statement published Saturday by UGTT, the agreement signed by UGTT Secretary-General Hassine Abassi and CGT Secretary-General Thierry Lepaon provides for strengthening the bilateral contribution to decent labour promotion and social progress and carry on boosting co-operation between the two organisations on the confederal as well as territorial and professional levels...
However, Judith Kirton-Darling, confederal secretary of the European TUC, said jobs in the region would be put at risk if the UK left the EU.
C'est le sentiment exprime, par divers canaux, par la gauche espagnole et vient d'etre appuye par le secretariat confederal International des Commissions Ouvrieres dans une declaration rendue publique dont copie est remise a Al Bayane.
Kurdistan in the north has gone as far as establishing confederal system.

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