A confederation is a union of independent and sovereign states that have come together on common ground to share constitutional powers among themselves and the central government so created.
In a confederation, constitutional powers are shared in a way in which the component units that formed the confederation has more fundamental powers allocated to them while the central government has little or fundamental powers. This makes the central government to be weak while the states are strong and much more powerful than the central government. Whereas in a federation, the central government is more powerful than the component states as the federal government has more constitutional powers than the federating states.
In a federation, the component states has no legal right to secede. In fact the constitution bars the states from withdrawing from the union. Whereas in a confederation, the states that formed the confederation reserve the right to pull out ofthe union.
‘ln a federation, as a result of multilateral sharing or constitutional powers, the constitution is necessarily a written and rigid one to protect the smaller units that formed the federation from arbitrary use of higher constitutional powers given to the central government. Whereas in a confederation, there is a flexible constitution which may be written or unwritten but the stipulations therein are open to alteration at the instance of any of the confederating units that possess the constitutional powers to do so.
In a federation, new states can be created to be added to the already existing ones that formed the federation. Whereas in a confederation, new states cannot be created as member states are independent and autonomous.
The president of a federation is an executive president as he or she is very powerful and is given high constitutional powers. Whereas the president of a confederation is a mere ceremonial president who does not rule but act in ceremonial capacity as he or she has little or no constitutional powers to direct affairs of the confederacy.
These are the differences between a federation and a confederation.