Advantages and Disadvantages of Confederal System of Government
Confederation / Confederal system of government is the type of government in which sovereign states come together as autonomous bodies to form a loose political union in which the central government is subordinate to the components governments.
Each autonomous state is sovereign, and has the constitutional right to secede from the confederation. An example is the Confederation of Sene-Gambia made up of sovereign Senegal and Gambia.
Advantages of Confederation Government
A confederation has the following advantages:
- A confederal systems of government helps to achieve objectives (such as security), which a single state may not be able to achieve on its own. The role of ECOMOG in restoring order to Sierra Leone and Liberia is a case in point.
- A confederal government provides an avenue for people from different countries to discuss their own problems and share ideas about their future.
- There is strength in unity. Countries which have a common voice are respected in the comity of nations.
- The members of a confederal government can offer assistance to one another in times of emergency or difficulty.
- It leads to rapid social and economic development especially where the component parts are able to pool their resources together.
- It reduces the barriers to free movement of people, goods and services. For example, citizens of ECOWAS member countries do not need visa to travel from one country to another.
- It promotes international peace and understanding. The formation of the United Nations, for example, has largely prevented a Third World War.
Disadvantages of Confederalism System of Government
The limitations of a confederation include the following:
- The right of the member states to secede may create political instability.
- The confederal government may be starved of funds by powerful members in order to compel the confederal government to toe the line.
- There may be unnecessary interference in its activities by member states. For example, the USA failed to support the re-election of Boutrous Boutrous Ghali as Secretary General of the United Nations in 1996 because he was considered too independent-minded. The same country tacitly checkmate the emergence of Nigeria’ Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the World Bank boss in April 2012.
- A confederation may fail to achieve its objectives due to lack of cooperation by member states.
- The principle of separation of powers is virtually not observed.
- The citizens of member countries may not feel the effect of a confederal government. Not many Nigerians, for instance would reckon with the African Union in their struggle to satisfy their basic needs.
- Contrary to its intention, a confederal government may not be perpetual.
- The powerful members of a confederation may usurp its powers.
- Too much money is wasted on conferences and meetings with little or no benefit to the ordinary people.
- Smaller member states may feel alienated or have no sense of belonging.
- Member states may wilfully disobey the laws or directives of the confederal government.