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A political union is a type of state which is composed of or created out of smaller states. The process of creating such a state out of smaller states is called unification . Unification of states that used to be together and are reuniting is referred to as reunification. Unlike a personal union or real union, the individual states share a central 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 state is a political organization with a centralized government that exerts authority within a certain geographical territory. There is not a single, undisputed, definition of what constitutes a state. A widely-used definition is a state being a polity that, within a given territory, maintains a monopoly on the use of force.
A federated state is a territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federation. Such states differ from fully sovereign states, in that they do not have full sovereign powers, as the sovereign powers have been divided between the federated states and the central or federal government. Importantly, federated states do not have standing as entities of international law. Instead, the federal union as a single entity is the sovereign state for purposes of international law. Depending on the constitutional structure of a particular federation, a federated state can hold various degrees of legislative, judicial and administrative jurisdiction over a defined geographic territory and is a form of regional government.
A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some extent interlinked, such as by sharing some limited governmental institutions. In a federation and a unitary state, a central (federal) government spanning all member states exists, with the degree of self-governance distinguishing the two. The ruler in a personal union does not need to be a hereditary monarch.
A union may be effected in a number of forms, broadly categorized as,
Annexation is the administrative action and concept in international law relating to the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state and is generally held to be an illegal act. It is distinct from conquest, which refers to the acquisition of control over a territory involving a change of sovereignty, and differs from cession, in which territory is given or sold through treaty, since annexation is a unilateral act where territory is seized and held by one state. It usually follows military occupation of a territory.
A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of either party, the states or the federal political body. Alternatively, federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs. It is often argued that federal states where the central government has the constitutional authority to suspend a constituent state's government by invoking gross mismanagement or civil unrest, or to adopt national legislation that overrides or infringe on the constituent states' powers by invoking the central government's constitutional authority to ensure "peace and good government" or to implement obligations contracted under an international treaty, are not truly federal states.
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 ").
Incorporating unions have been present throughout much of history, such as the Acts of Union, 1707 between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England creating Great Britain, in 1910 the colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and Transvaal were incorporated into the Union of South Africa, between the years of 1037 to 1479 Spain was in the process of Incorporating the Crown of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre into the Kingdom of Spain, though the process wasn't completed until 1716 (Aragon) and 1833 (Navarre), the Acts of Union 1800 united the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain into the United Kingdom, in 1990 the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen united with Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) to form the Republic of Yemen, and in 1783 the Articles of Confederation were signed by each of the Thirteen Colonies, uniting them into the United States of America.
The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland—which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch—were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain".
The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England. It suffered many invasions by the English, but under Robert I it fought a successful War of Independence and remained an independent state throughout the late Middle Ages. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain under the terms of the Acts of Union. Following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472 and final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482, the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
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. These guarantees may be to ensure the success of a proposed union, or in the least to prevent continuing resistance, as occurred in the union of Brittany and France in 1532 (Union of Brittany and France), 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 assurance that institutions are preserved in a union of states can also occur as states realise that whilst a power imbalance exists (such as between the economic conditions of Scotland and England prior to the Acts of Union 1707), it is not so great that it precludes the ability of concessions to be made. The Treaty of Union for creating the unified Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 contained a guarantee of the continuance of the civil laws and the existing courts in Scotland(a continuing guarantee), which was significant for both parties. The Scottish, despite economic troubles during the Seven ill years preceding the union, still had remaining negotiating power.
Brittany is a cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
The union of Brittany and France was a critical step in the formation of modern-day France. Brittany had been a semi-independent component of the Kingdom of France since Clovis I was given authority over the Gallo-Roman domain during the 5th century. It was first recorded as a "duchy" during the rule of Nominoe in 846. Over the centuries, the fealty demonstrated by the Duchy of Brittany toward the French king depended significantly on the individuals holding the two titles, as well as the involvement of the English monarchy at that particular time. The reign of Francis II, Duke of Brittany, was at an especially crucial time, as the nobles struggled to maintain their autonomy against the increasing central authority desired by Louis XI of France. As a result of several wars, treaties, and papal decisions, Brittany was united with France through the eventual marriage of Louis XI's son Charles VIII to the heiress of Brittany, Anne in 1491. However, because of the different systems of inheritance between the two realms, the crown and the duchy were not held by the same hereditary claimant until the reign of Henry II, beginning 1547.
This marks a delineation of states that are able to ensure a preservation of interests, there has to be some mutually beneficial reasoning behind the formal or informal preservation of interests. 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 the Kingdom of Ireland, though they were continued as a matter of practice. The informal recognition of such interests represents the different circumstances of the two Unions, the small base of institutional power in Ireland at the time (those who were the beneficiaries of the Protestant Ascendancy) had faced revolution in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and as a result there was an institutional drive toward unification, limiting the Irish negotiating power. However, informal guarantees were given to preclude the possibility of further Irish unrest in the period following the French Revolution of 1789 and the 1798 rebellion. These types of informal arrangements are more susceptible to changes, for example Tyrol was guaranteed that its Freischütz companies would not be posted to fight outside Tyrol without their consent, a guarantee later revoked by the Austrian republic. This can be juxtaposed with the continued existence of the Scottish Parliament and a separate body of Scottish Law distinct from English Law.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.
The Kingdom of Ireland was a client state of England and then of Great Britain that existed from 1542 until 1800. It was ruled by the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain in personal union with their other realms. The kingdom was administered from Dublin Castle nominally by the King or Queen, who appointed a viceroy to rule in their stead. It had its own legislature, peerage, legal system, and state church.
The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland between the 17th century and the early 20th century by a minority of landowners, Protestant clergy, and members of the professions, all members of the Established Church. The Ascendancy excluded from politics and the elite other groups, most numerous among them Roman Catholics but also members of the Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations, along with non-Christians such as Jews. Until the Reform Acts (1832–1928) even the majority of Irish Protestants were effectively excluded from the Ascendancy, being too poor to vote. In general, the privileges of the Ascendancy were resented by Irish Catholics, who made up the majority of the population.
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 or, more frequently, by conquest.
Incorporating annexations have occurred at various points in history such as in 1535 and 1542 under the two Laws in Wales Acts in which the Kingdom of England formally annexed the Principality of Wales, in 1822 the Republic of Spanish Haiti was annexed by the Republic of Haiti, Prussia/Germany used incorporating annexation to unite many of the German Princes during the Second Schleswig War, the Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian War, Sardinia annexed many of the Duchies and City-states in Italy during the period of Italian unification, in 1918 during the Podgorica Assembly the Kingdom of Serbia annexed the Kingdom of Montenegro, and in 1949 and 1951 the People's Republic of China annexed Tibet (1950) and East Turkestan (Xinjiang) (1949).
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.
If a unitary state becomes a federated unit of another existing state, the former 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.
Federal annexations have occurred in many places, such as British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873, and Newfoundland in 1949 which were all annexed into Canada, Eritrea was annexed into Ethiopia from 1951 to 1962, Switzerland federally annexed Geneva in 1815, Saarland was federally annexed by West Germany in 1957, Vermont (1791), Texas (1846), and California (1848) all were annexed by the United States of America, and Crimea was annexed into the Russian Federation in 2014.
The unification of Italy involved a mixture of unions. The kingdom consolidated around the Kingdom of Sardinia, with which several states voluntarily united to form the Kingdom of Italy. Others polities, such as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Papal States, were conquered and annexed. Formally, the union in each territory was sanctioned by a popular referendum where people were formally asked if they agreed to have as their new ruler Vittorio Emanuele II of Sardinia and his legitimate heirs.
The unification of Germany was ultimately a confederal union, but it began in earnest when the Kingdom of Prussia annexed numerous petty states in 1866.
In addition to regional movements, supranational organizations that promote progressive integration between its members started appearing in the second half of the 20th century. Some of these organization were inspired, to some extent by the European Union for example Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum , and the Pacific Union . Member states are often reluctant to form more centralized unions, the concept of unionism is often present in public debate.
The political position of the United Kingdom is often discussed;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.
Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare general good or advantage" dates from the 15th century. Originally a phrase it comes from the old meaning of "wealth", which is "well-being", and is itself a loose translation of the Latin res publica (republic). The term literally meant "common well-being". In the 17th century, the definition of "commonwealth" expanded from its original sense of "public welfare" or "commonweal" to mean "a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people; a republic or democratic state".
Federalism is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government with regional governments in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.
The Union of South Africa is the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony. It included the territories that were formerly a part of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
The German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic became part of the Federal Republic of Germany to form the reunited nation of Germany, and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz (constitution) Article 23. The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German unity, celebrated on 3 October. Following German reunification, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of united Germany.
Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.
A confederation is a union of sovereign states, united for purposes of common action often in relation to other states. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the general government being required to provide support for all its members. Confederalism represents a main form of inter-governmentalism, this being defined as any form of interaction between states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence or government.
Deutsches Reich was the constitutional name in the German language for the German nation state that existed from 1871 to 1945. The Reich became understood as deriving its authority and sovereignty entirely from a continuing unitary German "national people"; with that authority and sovereignty being exercised at any one time over a unitary German "state territory" with variable boundaries and extent. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not in itself have monarchical connotations. The word Kaiserreich is applied to denote an empire with an emperor; hence the German Empire of 1871–1918 is termed Deutsches Kaiserreich in standard works of reference. From 1943 to 1945, the official name of Germany became – but was not formally proclaimed – Großdeutsches Reich on account of the additional German peoples and associated territories annexed into the state's administration before and during the Second World War.
A central government is the government that holds absolute supremacy over a unitary state. Its equivalent in a federation is the federal government, which may have distinct powers at various levels authorized or delegated to it by its federated states, though the adjective 'central' is sometimes also used to describe it.
A constituent state is a state entity that constitutes a part of a sovereign state. A constituent state holds regional jurisdiction over a defined administrative territory, within a sovereign state. Government of a constituent state is a form of regional government. Throughout history, and also in modern political practice, most constituents states are parts of complex states, like federations or confederations. Constituent state can have republican or monarchical form of government. Those of republican form are usually called states or autonomous states, republics or autonomous republics, and also cantons. Those that have monarchical form of government are often defined by traditional hierarchical rank of their ruler.
Reichspost was the name of the postal service of Germany from 1866 to 1945.
A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national government. A federal territory is an area that is part of a federation but not part of any federated state. The federated states constitute the federation itself and share sovereignty with the federal government, while a territory does not have sovereign status.