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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.

Contents

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

  • 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 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[2] (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

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

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

  • Geneva with Switzerland (1815)
  • 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 Sardinia 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.

Historical unions

Unification movements

At various times various nationalist and irredentist movements promoted ideas of restoration or unification in various places.

Reunification Divided since Areas affected
(at maximum extent)
European unification Never United  Austria
 Belgium
 Bulgaria
 Cyprus
 Czech Republic
 Denmark
 Estonia
 Finland
 France
 Germany
 Greece
 Hungary
 Ireland
 Italy
 Latvia
 Lithuania
 Luxembourg
 Malta
 Netherlands
 Poland
 Portugal
 Romania
 Slovakia
 Slovenia
 Spain
 Sweden
 United Kingdom
Albanian reunification 1943  Albania
 Greece (Albanian lands)
 Macedonia (Albanian lands)
 Montenegro (Albanian lands)
 Serbia (Albanian lands)
 Kosovo
Anglo-Irish reunification 1922  Ireland
 United Kingdom
Armenian reunification 1915  Armenia
 Azerbaijan
 Georgia
 Iran
 Turkey
Bulgarian reunification 1913  Bulgaria
 Macedonia (Slavic)
Chinese reunification 1895  China (Controlled by the People's Republic of China)
 Taiwan (Controlled by the Republic of China)
Colombian reunification 1831  Colombia
 Ecuador
 Panama
 Venezuela
Commonwealth unification Colonial period  Commonwealth of Nations
Cypriot reunification 1974  Cyprus
 Northern Cyprus
Denmark-Norway reunification 1814  Denmark
 Norway
 Iceland
 Greenland
Danish reunification 1864 (1920)  Denmark
 Schleswig-Holstein
Dutch reunification 1830 / 1839  Belgium (Flanders)
 Netherlands
 France (Nord-Pas de Calais)
Finnish reunification 1940-44  Finland
 Russia (Karelia)
German and Austrian unification 1945  Germany
 Austria
 Poland (Silesia, Pommerania)
 Russia (East Prussia)
 France (Alsace-Lorraine)
Greek reunification Medieval period  Greece
 Cyprus
 Turkey (Eastern Thrace, Asia Minor, Pontus)
 Bulgaria (Eastern Rumelia)
 Albania (Northern Epirus)
 Macedonia (Monastiri area)
Hungarian reunification 1944  Croatia
 Hungary
 Romania (Transylvania)
 Serbia (Vojvodina)
 Slovakia
 Ukraine (Zakarpattia Oblast)
Indochinese reunification [1] 1954  Cambodia
 Laos
 Vietnam
Indian reunification 1947  India
 Bangladesh
 Pakistan
 Burma
Iranian reunification 1800s  Afghanistan
 Armenia
 Azerbaijan
 Iran
 Tajikistan
 Turkmenistan
 Uzbekistan
 Pakistan
Irish reunification 1920-22  Ireland
 United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)
Korean reunification 1945  North Korea
 South Korea
Macedonian Reunification 1913  Bulgaria (Blagoevgrad)
 Greece (Aegean Macedonia)
 Macedonia
Malaya reunification 1965  Singapore
 Malaysia
Mongolian reunification 1911  People's Republic of China (Inner Mongolia)
 Mongolia
Netherlandic reunification 1839  Belgium
 France (Nord-Pas de Calais)
 Luxembourg
 Netherlands
Union of Lublin 1939  Lithuania (Vilnius County)
 Belarus
 Poland
 Ukraine (Western Ukraine)
Iberian reunification 1170-1801  Portugal
 Spain (Galicia, Olivenza)
Romanian reunification 1944  Moldova
 Romania
Union of Russia and Belarus 1991  Belarus
 Russia
Scandinavian reunification 1536  Denmark
 Sweden
 Norway
 Iceland
 Greenland
 Finland
 Åland
Serbian reunification 1992  Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska)
 Croatia (Serbian Krajina)
 Kosovo (Serbia doesn't recognize the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo and regards it as its province)
 Montenegro
 Serbia
Somali unification Never united  Djibouti
 Ethiopia (Ogaden)
 Kenya
 Somalia
Transcaucasian reunification 1918-1936  Armenia
 Azerbaijan
 Georgia
Turkish reunification (Turan) 1922  Azerbaijan
 Kazakhstan
 Kyrgyzstan
 Turkmenistan
 Turkey
 Uzbekistan
Northern Cyprus Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
see Ottoman Empire and Turkic languages
Yugoslavian reunification 1992  Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Croatia
 Kosovo
 Macedonia
 Montenegro
 Serbia
 Slovenia
Filipino reunification 1878  Philippines
 Malaysia (Sabah)
Austro-Hungarian reunification 1918  Austria
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Croatia
 Czech Republic
 Hungary
 Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, small portions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
 Poland(West Galicia)
 Romania (Transylvania)
 Serbia (Vojvodina)
 Slovakia
 Slovenia
 Ukraine (Zakarpattia Oblast, East Galicia)

Academic analysis

The political position of the United Kingdom is often discussed[3][4]; 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.[5]

References

  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ ". . . 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
  3. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the political union of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland."
  4. ^ A Disunited Kingdom? - England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 1800-1949, Christine Kinealy, University of Central Lancashire, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 9780521598446: "... explaining how the United Kingdom has evolved, the author explores a number of key themes including: the steps to political union, ..."
  5. ^ Marianopolis College:

See also








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