Secession and Federalism. The Spanish Case

  • Joaquín Tornos MasEmail author


In some federal States, nationalist claims are lately evolving into clearly secessionist pretentions.

The aim of this work is to present the possible reasons for such evolution and the responses given to these claims for independence. This work analyses the use of referendums as well as the right to secession as a constitutional right. Finally, the development of the federal model into an asymmetrical federalism that recognizes plurinationality within the State is proposed as the best solution to the new claims for secession.


Federalism Secession Referendum 


  1. Alaez Corral B (2015) Constitucionalizar la secesión para armonizar la legalidad constitucional y el principio democrático en Estados territorialmente descentralizados como España. Revistad’Estudis Autonòmicsi Federals, No 22, OctoberGoogle Scholar
  2. Bechhofer F, Stapleton K (2009) National identity, nationalism and constitutional change. Palgrave-Macmillan, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogdanor V (2009) The new British constitution. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Bossacoma P (2015) Justíciailegalitat de la secessió. Una teoria de l’autodeterminació nacional de Catalunya. Institutd’Estudis Autonòmics, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  5. Buchanan A (2003) Secession and democracy. In: Walker M (ed) Sovereignity in transition. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  6. Buchanan A (2006) Theories of secession. Philos Public Aff 26:31–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Casanas E (2014) Self-determination and the use of referendums: the case of Scotland. Int J Polit Cult Soc 27:47–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Castellino J (2000) International law and self-determination. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaney P (2013) An electoral discourse approach to state decentralisation: state-wide parties manifesto proposals on Scottish and Welsh Devolution 1945–2010. Br Polit 8(3):333–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Craig P (2012) Administrative law, 7th edn. Sweet and Maxwell, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dahbour O (2013) Self-determination without nationalism. A theory of post-national sovereignity. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  12. De Esteban J (2015) El naufragio del Estado autonómico (un análisis cronológico). Iustel, MadridGoogle Scholar
  13. French D (ed) (2013) Statehood and self-determination. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  14. Hopkings J (2002) Devolution in context: regional, federal and devolved government in the European Union. Cavendish Publishing Limited, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keating M (2001) Nations against the State. The news politics of nationalism in Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland. Palgrave, London 2001Google Scholar
  16. Keating M (2003) Sovereignity and plurinational democracy: problems in political science. In: Walker M (ed) Sovereignity in transition. Hart, Oxford, pp 191–209Google Scholar
  17. Keating M (2015) The Scottish Independence Referendum and after. Revistad'estudis autonomics i federals, 21Google Scholar
  18. Laughlin M (2003) The idea of public law. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  19. López Basaguren A (2013) La secesión de territorios en la Constitución Española. Revista de derecho de la Unión Europea, No 25, July-December 2013Google Scholar
  20. Moore M (ed) (1998) National self-determination and secession. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  21. Moreno L (2009) La federalización de la España plural. Revista d’Estudis Autonòmics i Federals. No 8, April 2009Google Scholar
  22. MuÑoz Machado S (2014) Cataluña y las demás Españas, Madrid, Chapters I & VIIIGoogle Scholar
  23. Naim T (1987) The break-up of Britain. Crisis and neo-nationalism. New Left Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Norman W (2006) Negotiating nationalism, nation building, federalism and secession in the multinational state. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pavkonic A, Radan P (2011) The Ashgate research companion to secession. Ashgate. Farnham-BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  26. Piqueras JA (2014) El federalismo, la libertad protegida, la convivencia pactada, Ed. Cátedra, MadridGoogle Scholar
  27. Qvortrup M (2014) Nationalism, referendums and democracy. Voting on ethnic issues and independence. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Raic D (2002) Statehood and the law of self-determination. Kluver Law International, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  29. Requejo F (2011) Political liberalism in multinational states: the legitimacy of plural and asymmetrical federalism. In: Gagnon A-G, Tully J (eds) Multinational democracies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 110–132Google Scholar
  30. Tierney S (2005) Reframing sovereignty? Sub-state national societies and contemporary challenges to the nation-state. Int Comp Law Q 54:161–183Google Scholar
  31. Tierney S, Boyle K (2014) Yes or no, 2014 Scotland Referendum carries significant constitutional implications, Democratic, September 2014
  32. Walter Ch (2014) Self-determination and secession in international law. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  33. Wellman Ch (2005) A theory of secession: the case for political self-determination. Cambridge University Press. CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations