Free state (government)

Free state (government)

Free state is a term occasionally used in the official titles of some states.

In principle the title asserts and emphasises the freedom of the state in question, but what this actually means varies greatly in different contexts:
*Sometimes it asserts sovereignty or independence.
*Sometimes it asserts autonomy within a larger nation-state.
*Sometimes it is used as a synonym for "republic" but not all "free states" have been republics. While the historical German free states and the Orange Free State were republican in form, the Congo and Irish Free States were governed under forms of monarchy.
*In the unusual case of the Congo Free State, it emphasised the new state's freedom from major colonial powers and the Belgian parliament, as a domain under the paradoxically "free" control of the Belgian king. In the equally unusual case of the Irish Free State, the term Free State was intentionally ambiguous.



In Germany the term "free state" (in German, "Freistaat") was part of the full names of most Länder (federal states) during the inter-war period. The term was synonymous with "republic" and was introduced to emphasise the transition of Imperial Germany to the Weimar Republic after the defeat in World War I and the fact of the German Revolution, which deposed all German monarchs. Just as Free Cities ("Freistadt"), such as the Imperial Free Cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lübeck, were ruled not by a hereditary monarch but by an elected council of burghers, so all of the "free states" were no longer to be ruled by a noble or royal head of state but by elected representatives of the citizens. The term "Freistaat" is still used for the states of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia, even though theses states have no special positions or additional rights in the federation.


In South Africa the term "free state" was used in the title of the nineteenth century Orange Free State ("Oranje Vrystaat" in Afrikaans) and is today used in the title of its successor, Free State province; both entities were established as republican in form. In contrast, the Congo Free State came into being between 1877 and 1884 as a private kingdom or dictatorship of King Léopold II of Belgium.


Kashmir has a parliamentary form of government. The president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is constitutional head of state, while the prime minister is the constitutional head of government is supported by a council of ministers, is the chief Executive. Kashmir has its own supreme court, High court, and Legislative Assembly comprising of 48 members, out of which 40 are directly elected and 8 are indirectly elected - a member each from the technocrats, Mashaikh, Overseas Kashmiris and 5 females. The Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Affairs serves a link between the federal government of Pakistan and the government of Kashmir. Since Kashmir inherited a backward and underdeveloped economy, the major objective of the Pakistani government has been to promote its economic development and provide it with grants-in-aid for the purpose, and also to cover deficits in its revenue budget.

Irish Free State

The Irish Free State of 1922-1937 was a form of constitutional monarchy under the British monarch. The Irish state was a special case because the term "free state" was deliberately chosen as a literal translation of the Irish word "saorstát". At the time in which Irish nationalists were negotiating the secession of most of Ireland from the United Kingdom the word "saorstát" was a commonly used Irish word for "republic". The British did not wish to permit the creation of an Irish republic (which would mean severing all links with the British crown) and so insisted that the literal translation of "saorstát" be used in the new state's English title instead.

Puerto Rico

The official Spanish name of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico", literally, "Associated Free State of Puerto Rico", expressing a "politically organized community” or “State,” which is simultaneously connected by a compact to a larger political system and hence does not have an independent and separate status. However, according to the United States Supreme Court, Puerto Rico is not free, nor associated and only a state in the general sense, not as a state of the Union in the U.S. constitutional sense. According to consistent U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence, Puerto Rico belongs to, but is not an integral part of, the United States. Moreover, said jurisprudence has determined that regardless of what nominal or cosmetic veneer has moted Puerto Rico's political status, it is essentially a U.S. colonial territory, since it is under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress. At its most basic, this Supreme Court doctrine expresses that Puerto Rico is more like property, far from a free-governing community or nation, and thus "domestic in a foreign sense" (not for the taking or meddling by free-foreign nations), but "foreign in a domestic sense" (i.e., not a partner or equal.) In the Insular Cases, the Court ruled that the United States Constitution does not automatically apply in Puerto Rico.

Republican England

Parliament, in the act forming the Commonwealth of England of 1649 to 1660, declared England " [is] confirmed to be a Commonwealth and free State And shall from henceforth be Governed as a Commonwealth and Free State." The Commonwealth had a republican constitution.

List of 'free states'


*Free State of Bavaria
*Free State of Saxony
*Free State of Thuringia
*Free State of Kashmir (Pakistan)
*Free State, South Africa


*Commonwealth of England (1649 - 1660)
*Congo Free State (1884 - 1908)
*Free State of Fiume (1920 - 1924)
*Free State of Prussia (1920 - 1947)
*Free Territory of Trieste (1945 - 1977)
*Irish Free State (1922 - 1937)
*Orange Free State (1854 - 1900)
*Kamchatka Free State (1921 - 1922)
*Chukotka Free State (1922 - 1923)

ee also

*List of extinct states

External links

* [ Writing on Free States]

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