Features of Confederal System of Government

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Features of Confederal System of Government

Confederal System of Government | Definition | Features | Pros & Cons

A con-federal state or confederal system of government could be regarded as a loosed federation where ultimate power resides in state forming the alliances. It could also be regarded as a political arrangement in which autonomous reserved exclusively for the component states with a weak centre.

The component states hold major powers except the common currency, defense, and foreign affairs e.t.c. The component states retain their sovereignty, own Army Forces and have the constitution right to secede from the confederation. Examples include the Sene-Gambia which was a con-federal state that include two independence African countries (Senegal and Gambia).

Features of Confederal Government

A confederal government is characterized by the following:

  • The mem ber states rather than the general government are dominant.
  • There is always an elaborate document, which spells out the powers of the general and state governments.
  • Every confederation has a central organ through which the common will of its members may be expressed. The African Union, for example, has its permanent secretariat at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • The countries which establish a confederation usually believe that the confederal government will be permanent and enduring, but this is not always true. For example, the East African Economic Community established by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in the early 1960s collapsed less then ten years later partly, because of irreconcilable differences among the member states. While Tanzania, for instance, practised ‘African Socialism’, the others were less ideologically clear. Uganda was, for most times, under brutal authoritarian regimes like that of late President Idi Amin and Kenya, the most developed, had been seized by ultra-conservative political leaders who were inward looking. The body has since come alive again, but the political forces which facilitated the collapse of the original East African Community are still largely dominant.
  • A confederation is usually established to achieve certain common objectives such as political unity, security or economic integration. But there is usually no limit to the scope of subjects that can be assigned to a confederal government.
  • The member states may individually or collectively refuse to carry out the decisions of the confederal government. Israel, for example, has consistently failed to comply with the resolution of the United Nations Security Council urging her to vacate the occupied Arab territories.
  • A member state has the right to secede or withdraw its membership from the confederation. Morocco has, for example, withdrawn its membership of the African Union since the mid 1980’s over its recognition of the Polisario which is fighting, for the independence of Western Sahara.
  • Member states cannot be compelled to contribute their quotas towards the financial support of a confederal government, and many often fail in this regard. With the exception of countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Libya and South Africa, most members of the African Union often fail to settle their financial obligations to the body.
  • Sovereignty lies with the states. They retain their sovereignty and political autonomy. This undermines the capacity of the confederation to achieve common or unifying goals.
  • The chief organ of a confederation is the congress. For example, the General Assembly of the United Nations is the chief organ of the world body.
  • The decisions of a confederation apply mainly to member states and remotely to the citizens.
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