On Legal Aspects of the Independence Referendum of Iraqi Kurdistan

In the referendum held on 25 September 2017, the voters of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG) went to the polls to decide whether they wanted an independent state. In this independence referendum, the voters were asked the following question: “Do you want the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and Kurdistani territories that are outside KRI to become an independent state?” With a turnout around 72 %, more than 90% of the voters voted for independence. This note aims to provide a brief analysis on the legal nature of this referendum. For this purpose, I will first define the concept of the independence referendum in general and locate the Kurdish referendum within this concept. Then I will analyze the decision of the KRG to hold the independence referendum from both aspects of constitutional and international laws. 

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The Catalunya Conundrum, Part 3: Protecting the Constitution by Violating the Constitution

Lacking legitimacy in Catalonia because of the absence of solutions to Catalan democratic claims within the Spanish legal framework, the position of Spanish institutions is badly weakened. Therefore, they do not to want to take the risk of creating even more political unrest in Catalonia with public and explicit debates on the suspension of autonomy or on the necessity of limiting fundamental rights. Instead, Spanish government is pushing other institutions, such as the Constitutional Court, prosecutors, police and judges, as well as their own executive powers, beyond their ordinary limits.

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The Catalunya Conundrum, Part 2: A Full-Blown Constitutional Crisis for Spain

In Part 1, we have explained the rigidity of the constitutional doctrine of our Constitutional Court on the matter of regional independence movements. There are some evident conclusions that swiftly appear – most of all that the only legal  way for a hypothetical majority of Catalan citizens to express their wish to secede or at least to consult with the population on the issue, would presuppose a constitutional reform. This is a tremendously complicated matter in itself, though.

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The Catalunya Conundrum, Part 1: How Could Things Come to Such a Pass?

In a three-piece series of blog posts, I will focus on three issues: the different attempts made in recent years by Catalan secessionists parties trying to find a lawful way to ask the population about the independence of Catalonia and Spanish legal system’s responses blocking them; how this gridlock has led to a constitutional crisis in Spain and what could be possible solutions; and finally why concerns about the Spanish authorities’ reaction may be well founded, thus creating a potential conflict at the European level.

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Rethinking Turkish Secularism: Towards “Unofficial” Islamic Constitutionalism?

There are both domestic and foreign concerns that Turkey is a theocracy in the making or some “attenuated” version thereof.  While most of these concerns are full of extravagant exaggerations, often suggesting Iran as an example Turkey is allegedly headed towards, there is a certain element of truth embedded in these concerns.

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The Catalan Self-Determination Referendum Act: A New Legal Order in Europe

The Catalan Parliament is taking the secession process to the next level. By illegitimately passing two Acts that constitute a Catalan proto-constitution, a constitutional coup d’état and a new legal order are on their way.

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Is the European Parliament Missing its Constitutional Moment?

Over the years, step by step, the European Parliament has won a share of real constitutional power. At times, Parliament has had a decisive influence on the constitutive development of the European Union. At other times, MEPs have found it just as difficult as the European Council has done to make constitutional sense of a Union which is an uneasy compromise between federal and confederal elements. If EU governance is congenitally weak it may be because its institutions are unable to manage the dichotomy between supranational and intergovernmental. Today, circumstances have thrown the European Parliament a golden opportunity to take a major step in the federal direction – but it looks as though MEPs are going to retreat again.

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Reconciling Religion: Lessons Learned from the Triple Talaq Case for Comparative Constitutional Governance

The recent case of Shayara Bano v Union of India heard before the Supreme Court of India provide helpful guidance for how a secular democratic regime with a multiplicity of religious, ethnic, and cultural communities can manage constitutional governance with an increasing number of seemingly irreconcilable tensions. Pluralist societies such as Canada and the United States grapple with a variety of delicate balancing acts: in such instance, the need to reconcile accommodation for religious and cultural minorities with the protection of gender rights on the other.

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The EU and the Catalan Crisis

The events of the past week in Catalunya (and of the weeks that will follow) are very serious and worrying. Catalunya is a region of a Member State of the EU that has begun a unilateral process of independence, disregarding the Constitution, its Statute of Autonomy and the opposition of half of the Catalan population. It’s a remarkable challenge for Spanish democracy. It’s a challenge for the EU as well.

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Hungarian Constitutional Identity and the ECJ Decision on Refugee Quota

The outcome of the lawsuit launched by the Hungarian Government against the EU Council’s decision on compulsory relocation of asylum seekers before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) took no-one by surprise, neither in Budapest nor elsewhere. Some may have hoped that the complaint would succeed legally, but nevertheless it has always been primarily a part of a well-devised political strategy based on the idea of national identity as a concept of constitutional and EU law.

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The EU as the Appropriate Locus of Power for Tackling Crises: Interpretation of Article 78(3) TFEU in the case Slovakia and Hungary v Council

The CJEU’s judgment in Slovakia and Hungary v Council of 6 September 2017 raises important instutional questions. As the Court implicitly recognises the EU as the appropriate forum for taking effective action to address the emergency situation created by a sudden inflow of third country nationals, it adopts its tendency towards purposive and effectiveness-oriented jurisprudence to asylum law.

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One Law, Two Justices

Poland’s rule of law crisis stems from the conviction that respect for institutions and the requirement to observe procedures are for the weak. The greatest risk arising from the crisis is that the recent disregard for both institutions and procedures will become a norm for future governments, whatever their political orientation.

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