Catalonia and Spain: A View from the Future Past

I am not suggesting Spain and Catalonia are headed for the same result as Yugoslavia and its republics. The conditions necessary for such a confrontation are simply not present. At the same time, the similarities do suggest danger of further escalation, with the possibility of unrest that should be taken seriously.

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Catalan secessionism faces the European Union

Catalan secessionists have constructed a hypothetical place for an independent Catalonia within the EU on the basis of three explicit assumptions.1)See on this issue Carlos Closa (ed.) Secession from a Member State and Withdrawal from the European Union;Troubled Membership, Cambridge University Press 2017 They assume, firstly, that the EU will treat their demands sympathetically. This […]

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Homage to Catalonia: How to Lift the Gridlock of Constitutional Crisis in Spain

83 years after the first proclamation of a Catalan State, Catalonia seems once again to be on the verge of unilaterally declaring its independence, giving cause to a grave constitutional crisis in Spain. Although, until now, the intransigence of both sides has led to this gridlock, there is always space for a compromise that could de-escalate the crisis. However, such compromise should be characterised by a number of principles that could help the two sides present the future agreement as a win-win situation.

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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 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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From Greenland to Svalbard: Scotland’s quest for a differentiated Brexit

On 20 December 2016, the Scottish Government released its blueprint on how Scotland can remain in the European Single Market post-Brexit. From the governing SNP’s point of view, the paper can be seen as a compromise given that it does not advocate Scottish independence. Instead, it proposes that the best outcome for the UK as a whole is to remain in the European Economic Agreement following the ‘Norway model’. It recognises, however, that in the current political constellation this seems unlikely. So, it argues for the continued membership of Scotland in the European Single Market.

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Scotland, Catalonia and the Constitutional Taboo of Secession

The UK constitution does not allow Scotland to unilaterally secede in the case of Brexit – in that respect its situation is not unlike Catalonia’s. Given the political nature of the UK uncodified constitution, it is almost unthinkable that a similar judicialisation of politics will occur in the UK as it did in Spain. However, unless Westminster takes seriously into account the demands of the devolved administrations in the Brexit negotiations, there is a real danger that a serious constitutional stalemate will occur.

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Völkerrecht und Sezessionen – Legitimität nur für Einigungswillige?

Katalonien, Schottland, Krim, Québec – Sezessionismus ist in diesen Tagen wieder einmal ein sehr aktuelles Phänomen, und das nicht nur in Europa. Um so mehr wächst das Bedürfnis danach, sezessionistische Bestrebungen völkerrechtlich und damit nach internationalen Standards zu bewerten. Doch bei der Frage, ob bzw. wann Sezessionen legitim sind, betreibt das Völkerrecht eine Art Versteckspiel mit Verfassungsrecht und Politik. Weder statuiert es ein ausdrückliches Recht auf Sezession noch verbietet es dieselbe, sondern überlässt es grundsätzlich dem jeweiligen nationalen Verfassungsrecht, ihre Rechtmäßigkeit zu beurteilen. Lässt uns also das Völkerrecht mit dem Sezessionismus völlig alleine? Eine Antwort auf diese Frage gab diese Woche Andreas Paulus, Richter im Ersten Senat des Bundesverfassungsgerichts und Völkerrechtsprofessor in Göttingen, in einem Vortrag vor dem Wissenschaftlichen Dienst des Bundestages.

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"The key to the solution lies in Spain, not in Catalonia"

Why did the territorial conflict between separatist Catalonia and the Spanish central government escalate so badly? What is at stake in a country historically ridden by civil war and separatist terrorism? What needs to be done to resolve the conflict, and by whom? In an interview with Verfassungsblog, Benito Aláez Corral, constitutional law professor from Oviedo, explains how the Spanish constitution needs to be amended to satisfy the demand for national self-determination in Catalonia and maintain the constitutional integrity of Spain.

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