Political union


Political union

A political union is a type of state which is composed of or created out of smaller states. Unlike a personal union, the individual states share a common government and the union is recognized internationally as a single political entity. A political union may also be called a legislative union or state union.

A union may be effected in a number of forms, broadly categorized as:
* incorporating union
* incorporating annexation
* federal (or confederal) union
* federative annexation
* mixed unions.

Incorporating union

In an incorporating union a new state is created, the former states being entirely dissolved into the new state (albeit that some aspects may be preserved; see below "Preservation of interests").

Examples of incorporating union

*The United Kingdom - the united Kingdom of Great Britain (Treaty of Union 1707), and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801)

*South Africa (1910) [This is often seen as a federal union but is closer to an incorporating union as the four colonies were dissolved, their territories becoming provinces in a unitary state without any recognition as fixed constitutional entities]

*Spain (process from 1037 to 1479)

*Yemen (1990)

Preservation of interests

Nevertheless a full incorporating union may preserve the laws and institutions of the former states, as happened in the creating of the United Kingdom. This may be simply a matter of practice or to comply with a guarantee given in the terms of the union. For example:

*In the annexation of Brittany to France in 1532, a guarantee was given as to the continuance of laws and of the Estates of Brittany (a guarantee revoked in 1789 at the French Revolution.
*The Treaty of Union for creating the united Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 contained a guarantee of the continuance of the civil laws and the existing courts in Scotland ["...that no Alteration be made in Laws which concern private Right, except for evident Utility of the Subjects within Scotland" - Article XVIII of the Treaty of Union] (a continuing guarantee).
*In the Union creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, no such guarantee was given for the laws and courts of Ireland, though they were continued as a matter of practice.
*Tyrol was guaranteed that its Freischütz companies would not be posted to fight outside Tyrol without their consent (a guarantee revoked by the Austrian republic).

Incorporating annexation

In an incorporating annexation a state or states is united to and dissolved in an existing state, whose legal existence continues.

Annexation may be voluntary (as with Montenegro's union into Serbia in 1918) or, which is more frequent, by conquest.

Examples of incorporating annexation

*England (formally annexed Wales to England under the two Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542

*Prussia (1866)

*Italian unification (1860-1861)

*Serbia (with Montenegro) (1918)

Federal or Confederal union

In a federal or confederal union the states continue in existence but place themselves under a new federal authority. The federal state alone will be the state in international law though the federated states retain an existence in domestic law.

Examples of Federal or Confederal union

*Australia (1901)

*Cameroon (1961-1970)

*Canada (1867)

*the German Empire (1871-1919)

*Switzerland (confederation from 1291)

*Tanzania (1964)

*The United Arab Emirates (1971)

*The United States of America (from 1777/1788)

Federal or Confederal annexation

If a state becomes a federated unit of another existing state, the latter continuing its legal existence, then that is a federal annexation. The new federated state thus ceases to be a state in international law but retains its legal existence in domestic law, subsidiary to the federal authority.

Examples of federal annexation

*British Columbia with Canada (1871)

*Eritrea with Ethiopia (1951 to 1962)

*Geneva with Switzerland (1815)

*Newfoundland and Labrador with Canada (1949)

*Texas with the United States of America

(Arguably Hawaii with the United States of America is an example, but Hawaii was first annexed without statehood.)

Mixed Unions

The unification of Italy involved a mixture of unions. The kingdom consolidated around the Kingdom of Sardinia. Several states voluntarily united with Sardina to create the Kingdom of Italy. Others, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Papal States were conquered and annexed.

The unification of Germany was ultimately a confederal union, but it began in earnest by Prussia's annexation of numerous petty states in 1866.

Academic analysis

The political position of the United Kingdom is often discussed [ [http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article-9277509 Encyclopædia Britannica:] "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the political union of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland."] [ [http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/print.asp?isbn=0521598443&print=y A Disunited Kingdom? - England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 1800-1949] , Christine Kinealy, University of Central Lancashire, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN-13: 9780521598446: "... explaining how the United Kingdom has evolved, the author explores a number of key themes including: the steps to political union, ..."] ; and former states like Serbia and Montenegro (2003-2006), the Soviet Union (1922-1991) and the United Arab Republic (1958-1961).

Lord Durham was widely regarded as one of the most important thinkers in the history of the British Empire's constitutional evolution. He articulated clearly the difference between a full legislative union and a federation. In his 1839 "Report", in discussing the proposed union of Upper and Lower Canada, he says:

Two kinds of union have been proposed – federal and legislative. By the first, the separate legislature of each province would be preserved in its present form and retain almost all its present attributes of internal legislation, the federal legislature exercising no power save in those matters which may have been expressly ceded to it by the constituent provinces. A legislative union would imply a complete incorporation of the provinces included in it under one legislature, exercising universal and sole legislative authority over all of them in exactly the same manner as the Parliament legislates alone for the whole of the British Isles. [ [http://www2.marianopolis.edu/quebechistory/encyclopedia/Legislativeunion-QuebecHistory.htm Marianopolis College:] ]

References

See also

* Union (disambiguation)
* Constituent countries
* Confederation
* Federation
* Real union
* Reunification


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