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A federacy is a form of government where one or several substate units enjoy considerably more independence than the majority of the substate units. To some extent, such an arrangement can be considered as similar to asymmetric federalism.
A federacy is a form of government with features of both a federation and unitary state. In a federacy, at least one of the constituent parts of the state is autonomous, while the other constituent parts are either not autonomous or comparatively less autonomous. An example of such an arrangement is Finland, where Åland, which has the status of autonomous province, has considerably more autonomy than the other provinces. The autonomous constituent part enjoys a degree of independence as though it was part of federation, while the other constituent parts are as independent as subunits in a unitary state. This autonomy is guaranteed in the country's constitution. The autonomous subunits are often former colonial possessions or are home to a different ethnic group from the rest of the country. These autonomous subunits often have a special status in international relations.
Several states are federacies. The exact autonomy of the subunits differs from country to country.
Antigua and Barbuda
- Main articles: Politics of Antigua and Barbuda: Legislative branch and Barbuda Council
Australia and Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island has considerably more autonomy granted by the commonwealth than Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Territory of Christmas Islands. Norfolk Islanders are not represented in either house of the Australian parliament.
Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan
Denmark has five regions (regioner). Greenland and the Faroe Islands are also part of the Kingdom, but as separate communities of the Kingdom, enjoy a high degree of autonomy. The relationship between Denmark on the one hand and Faroe and Greenland on the other, is that of federacy. Most Danish laws have a specific clause stating that the laws do not extend to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Each of them sends two representatives to Folketinget (the Danish parliament). Defence and diplomatic affairs are responsibilities of Denmark, but Faroe and Greenland do participate directly in some Nordic organizations, such as the Nordic Council. Both have chosen not to participate in the European Union. Decisions by the highest courts of Greenland and the Faroe Islands can be appealed to the Danish Supreme Court. Greenland and the Faroe Islands were originally respectively a colonial possession and a dependency; later they were integral parts of Denmark. The Faroe Islands were granted home rule in 1948, and Greenland followed suit in 1979.
Fiji and Rotuma
Rotuma has the status of dependency in Fiji.
Finland and Åland
The archipelago of Åland is a region of Finland, but compared to the other regions, it enjoys a high degree of home rule. Extensive autonomy was granted to it in the Act on the Autonomy of Åland of 1920 (last revised 1991), and the autonomy was affirmed by a League of Nations decision in 1921. The Parliament of Åland (Lagtinget) handles duties, that in other provinces are exercised by state provincial offices of the central government. Åland sends one representative to the Finnish parliament, and is a member of the Nordic Council. It is demilitarised, and the population is exempt from conscription. Åland has issued its own postage stamps since 1984, and runs its own police force. Most of Åland's inhabitants speak Swedish as their first language (91.2% in 2007). Åland's autonomous status was a result of disputes between Sweden and Imperial Russia in 1809, and between Finland and Sweden 1917–1921.
France and its overseas lands
The French Republic is divided into 27 régions, 22 of which are in metropolitan France (Corsica, one of these, is strictly speaking not a région, but is often counted as such). Four of the régions are régions d'outre-mer (overseas regions). France also has five collectivités d'outre-mer, one territoire d'outre-mer, and one collectivité sui generis. All are integral parts of France and subject to French law, but New Caledonia (the collectivité sui generis), and French Polynesia (one of the fivecollectivités d'outre-mer, but with the designation of pays d'outre-mer) have considerably more autonomy. All except the uninhabited French Southern and Antarctic Lands are represented in the French parliament. Defence and diplomatic affairs are responsibilities of France, but they do participate in some organisations directly. Réunion, for example, is a member of the Indian Ocean Commission. In addition, France has the remote Clipperton Island in the Pacific under direct authority of the Minister of Overseas France. French overseas territories were in the past colonial possessions.
Iraq and Kurdistan
Kashmir and India/Pakistan
After independence from British rule, princely states were given the choice to opt for either India or Pakistan. The Kashmir state was ruled by a Hindu king but the majority of its population was Muslim. When Pathan tribesmen invaded his land, the king agreed to join the Indian Republic in return for its protection.
Currently, Kashmir is a disputed territory, with both India and Pakistan claiming it as their own. India controls about two-thirds and Pakistan controls the remainder.
Moldova and Gagauzia
In 1994 Gagauzia, a territory in the southern part of the Republic of Moldova inhabited by the Gagauz people, an ethnic group distinct from the majority Moldovans, was given autonomy including "the right of external self-determination". This is in contrast to the other subdivisions of Moldova (raioane) which are county-level administrative areas with little autonomy. However, the eastern part of Moldova is an internationally-unrecognized breakaway republic (Transnistria) which is de facto self-governing.
Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four autonomous countries, linked by the Statute of Kingdom of the Netherlands as constituent parts: the Netherlands, an autonomous, independent country, and Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, three separate, non-independent, autonomous countries. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten formerly made up the Netherlands Antilles, which was a colony of the Netherlands until 1954. Aruba reached an agreement on decolonization with the Kingdom of the Netherlands following a referendum held in 1977, and became autonomous and separate from the Antilles, with a status aparte: meaning the status of an autonomous country with its full autonomus country status officially recognized in the Charter since 1986. The Charter/Statute links the four separate autonomous countries. The three countries Aruba, Curaçao, and St.Maarten don`t have statehood but do have Dutch nationality and passport in common with the Netherlands. All four countries, including the State of the Netherlands, have separate constitutions, governments and parliaments, but Aruba alone has its own national currency and Central Bank. In contrast to the Free Association of the Cook Islands and New Zealand, the Kingdom is still fully responsible for diplomatic affairs, citizenship and defence, while the Cook Islands have an ACP status.
The Council of Ministers of the Kingdom as a whole consists de facto of the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands together with three ministers plenipotentiary, one nominated by each of the other countries. The legislature of the Kingdom consists of the parliament of the Netherlands. De facto the cabinet and the parliament of the Netherlands are responsible for the administration of the dependencies Aruba, Curaçao and St.Maarten besides being responsible for the Dutch government. There is limited participation of politicians of the other countries. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten share a Common Court of Appeals; the Dutch Hoge Raad ("High Council") acts as their supreme court.
Dutch nationals related to these territories are fully European citizens; however, Dutch-Caribbean citizens residing in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are normally not entitled to vote in Dutch elections, but can vote in elections for the Europena Parliament. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are overseas countries and territories (OCTs), listed under Annex II of the EC treaty. Hence EC law does not apply there.
The Netherlands Antilles was scheduled to be dissolved as a unified political entity on 15 December 2008, so that the five constituent islands would attain new constitutional statuses within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but this dissolution was postponed until 10 October 2010. Curaçao and Sint Maarten gained autonomy as non- independent countries within the Kingdom, like Aruba did in 1986, and the three remaining islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba became special municipalities of the Netherlands itself.
Cook Islands is a member of the Pacific Island Forum and as such is part of the "Umbrella Agreement" including Australia and New Zealand, called the "Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations" (PACER). This agreement includes the future creation of a free trade area amongst the 14 ACP Forum Island Countries (FICs) called the "Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement" (PICTA), without Australia and New Zealand. Under the Cotonou Agreement, Cook Islands is committed to negotiating the new reciprocal Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the ACP states and the EU, which was due to come into force in 2008. Cook Islands also benefits from the 9th EDF (PRIP) Regional Trade and Economic Integration Programme which provides approximately €9 million to assist the Region in implementing PICTA, negotiate trade agreements with developed partners (e.g. EPA), intensify links with the WTO and address supply-side constraints.
Nicaragua, North Atlantic Autonomous Region, and South Atlantic Autonomous Region
Papua New Guinea and Bougainville
Portugal, Azores, and Madeira
Portugal has two autonomous regions, namely Azores and Madeira. Together with the eighteen districts on mainland Portugal they form the Portuguese Republic. The autonomous regions possess their own political and administrative statute and have their own governments. They are represented in the Portuguese parliament, but have no international representation. They were granted autonomous status because of their distance from mainland Portugal, and their separate history as semi-colonial possessions.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
São Tomé and Príncipe
Príncipe has had self-government since 1995.
Serbia, Vojvodina and Kosovo
Tajikistan and Gorno-Badakhshan
Tanzania and Zanzibar
Tanzania is divided in 26 regions. Five of those regions together form Zanzibar. This island is a self-governing region. It elects its own president who has control over the internal matters of the island. Zanzibar was an independent sultanate and a British protectorate, while Tanganyika was a German Schutzgebiet until 1919, when it became a British mandate territory. The two were united in 1964, after a popular revolt against the Sultan of Zanzibar.
Trinidad and Tobago
Tobago has its own House of Assembly, with its Chief Secretary. It handles some of the responsibilities of the Trinidad and Tobago central government.
Ukraine and Crimea
Ukraine is divided in twenty four oblasts, two municipalities with special legal status, (Kiev and Sevastopol) and one autonomous republic, Crimea. Until 1954 the peninsula of Crimea was an oblast of the Russian SFSR. It was transferred by Soviet Politburo as a gesture to mark the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav. In 1991 the Crimea was granted autonomy. Its population mainly consists of Russians (58%), Ukrainians (24%) and Crimean Tatars (12%). The peninsula also houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet which is on the lease until 2017 and harbored in Sevastopol.
United States and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico residents are United States citizens and may freely travel between both the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico. Residents of Puerto Rico are exempt from some federal taxes. Puerto Rico's autonomy is granted by Congress. Federal taxes do not automatically apply to Puerto Rico unless the Puerto Rican government wants them to. Although the U.S. government has full say over its foreign policy, Puerto Rico does maintain direct contacts with its Caribbean neighbors.
Puerto Rico does not have full voting representation in the U.S. Congress, nor do its people vote for electors in U.S. Presidential elections.
Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan
Comparison to other systems of autonomy
A federacy differs from a devolved state, such as Spain and the United Kingdom, because, in a devolved state, the central government can revoke the independence of the subunits (e.g. Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly in the case of the UK) without changing the constitution.
A federacy also differs from an associated state, such as the Federated States of Micronesia (in free association with the United States) and Cook Islands and Niue (which form part of the Realm of New Zealand). There are two kinds of associated states: in the case of Micronesia, association is concluded by treaty between two sovereign states; in the case of the Cook Islands and Niue, association is concluded by domestic legal arrangements.
The relations between the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies, i.e. the Isle of Man and the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands, are very similar to a federate relation: the Islands enjoy independence from the United Kingdom, which, via The Crown, takes care of their foreign relations and defence – although the UK Parliament does have overall power to legislate for the dependencies. However, the islands are neither an incorporated part of the United Kingdom nor are they considered to be independent or associated states. The Isle of Man does not have a monarch but Queen Elizabeth II holds the position of Lord of Mann.
British overseas territories are vested with varying degrees of power; some enjoy considerable independence from the United Kingdom, which only takes care of their foreign relations and defence. However, they are neither considered to be part of the United Kingdom, nor recognised as sovereign or associated states.
In an asymmetric federation one of the substates has more independence than the others. Examples of this are Canada where Quebec has been given political deference to craft independent language and education policies.
Some unitary states, such as Spain and the United Kingdom, may also be regarded as asymmetric federations. For example, in Spain, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia (later also Andalusia, Aragon, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Navarre, Valencia, etc.) have been granted greater autonomy and political deference than the rest of the Spanish autonomous communities (see nationalities and regions of Spain).
The difference between an asymmetric federation and federacy is indistinct; a federacy is essentially an extreme case of an asymmetric federation, either due to large differences in the level of autonomy, or the rigidity of the constitutional arrangements.
Special Administrative Regions (People's Republic of China)
The People's Republic of China has two special administrative regions, namely Hong Kong and Macau, in an arrangement some may consider as close to a federacy. Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", the two territories, according to their basic laws, enjoy extensive autonomy except in diplomatic affairs and defence, and participate in international organisations as "Hong Kong, China", and "Macau, China". Both are presented by deputies in the National People's Congress (NPC), who are selected by a committee appointed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC). Each has its own court of last resort, extradition policies, immigration and border control, and currency, and forms its own customs territory. Laws of the People's Republic of China do not apply in Hong Kong or Macau unless otherwise stated in Annex III of the Basic Law of the territory concerned. Hong Kong and Macau were colonial possessions of, respectively, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
Dr. Jaime Lluch, has critiqued the classification and description of "federacy" as used by Elazar and Watts. Lluch argues that the category of “federacy” is misapplied to the case of Puerto Rico (and to other comparable cases), and that it is an example of “conceptual stretching”. He finds that “federacies” is in the end not a helpful category to understanding the types of institutional arrangements referred and recommends that scholars of comparative federalism need to find a more nuanced category to describe contemporary actually-existing autonomies such as Puerto Rico. Lluch shows that federacies have little to do with federalism, and are in fact distinct status arrangements that are more properly seen as “autonomies,” of which there is a wide variety. This variety includes autonomies which are classified along a continuum that would take several "federacies" and reclassify them thus:
- Autonomies in Unitary States: Corsica, Aland Islands, Faroe Islands, Crimea and Gagauzia.
- Non-federal autonomies in "federal political systems" (which he defines as systems having two (or more) levels of government, which combine elements of shared-rule through common institutions and regional self-rule for the governments of the constituent units. This broad category includes a spectrum of polities including unions, constitutionally decentralized unions, federations, confederations and associated states): Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas, Guam, Nunavut, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey.
- Devolutionary autonomies in federal political systems: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, South Tyrol, Valle d'Aosta, Sardinia, Sicily and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
- Semi-federal autonomies in federal political systems: Catalonia, Basque Country and Galicia.
The case of Puerto Rico
In examining the Puerto Rico case, Lluch notes that although Elazar has mischaracterized the nature of the Puerto Rico-USA relationship, it is still cited as the prototype of a “federacy”. Lluch defines Puerto Rico as a non-federal autonomy, which is officially an unincorporated territory belonging to the federal political system that is the USA, and subject to the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress under the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution and states that it is not a “free-associated” state. Similar conclusions were made by three Presidential Task Forces on Puerto Rico's Status in 2005, 2007 and 2011. In particular, Lluch notes that contrary to Elazar's assertions in his 1987 and 1991 works, the power to terminate or modify the Puerto Rico-USA relationship rests squarely on the U.S. Congress and that the US government contends that sovereignty over Puerto Rico resides solely in the United States and not in the people of Puerto Rico.
Lluch notes that both Watts and Elazar define a "federacy" as “political arrangements where a large unit is linked to a smaller unit or units, but the smaller unit retains considerable autonomy and has a minimum role in the government of the larger one, and where the relationship can be dissolved only by mutual agreement". However contrary to this definition he notes that far from having a minimum role in the government of the United States, Puerto Rico has no effective representation in Congress, except for a token representative that has no right to vote there. Nor do the residents of Puerto Rico vote for the U.S. President. Puerto Rico thus has no real representation in the institutions of the central state. He notes that essentially the Puerto Rico-USA relationship exhibits some elements of empire, and nearly none of federalism. Puerto Rico is better conceptualized as an exemplar of autonomism with the category of "federacy" being less helpful to explain it.
- Stepan, Alfred (1999). "Federalism and Democracy: Beyond the U.S. Model". Journal of Democracy 10 (4): 19–34. doi:10.1353/jod.1999.0072
- Elazar, Daniel J. (1991). Federal Systems of the World: A Handbook of Federal, Confederal and Autonomy Arrangements. London: Longman. p. 395. ISBN 0-582-08694-9.
- "Antillen opgeheven op 10-10-2010" (in Dutch). NOS. 1 October 2009. http://www.nos.nl/nosjournaal/artikelen/2009/10/1/011009_antillen.html. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
- Elazar, Daniel J. (1991). Federal Systems of the World: A Handbook of Federal, Confederal and Autonomy Arrangements. London: Longman. p. 326. ISBN 0-582-08694-9.
- Rezvani, David A. (2007). "The Basis of Puerto Rico's Constitutional Status: Colony, Compact, or "Federacy"?". Political Science Quarterly (Academy of Political Science) 122 (1): 115–140. ISSN 0032-3195. OCLC 128034053.
- Lluch, Jaime (13 April 2011). "Federacies and Conceptual Stretching: A Critique of the Category of "Federacy"". PSA Annual Conference, 19–21 April 2011, London, British and Comparative Territorial Politics Group panel. The Political Studies Association. Retrieved 24 April 2012.