- 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.
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
United Kingdom- the united Kingdom of Great Britain( Treaty of Union1707), 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)
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
Brittanyto Francein 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 Britainin 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 Irelandin 1801, no such guarantee was given for the laws and courts of Ireland, though they were continued as a matter of practice.
Tyrolwas guaranteed that its Freischütz companies would not be posted to fight outside Tyrol without their consent (a guarantee revoked by the Austrian republic).
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 1535and 1542
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
Switzerland(confederation from 1291)
United Arab Emirates(1971)
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 Columbiawith Canada (1871)
Eritreawith Ethiopia(1951 to 1962)
Genevawith Switzerland (1815)
Newfoundland and Labradorwith Canada (1949)
*Texas with the United States of America
Hawaiiwith the United States of America is an example, but Hawaii was first annexed without statehood.)
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 Siciliesand the Papal Stateswere 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.
The political position of the
United Kingdomis often discussed [ [http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article-9277509 Encyclopædia Britannica:] "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irelandis 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:] ]
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