Reply To: Citizenship instead of nationality

By Jakub Jermar

AvatarJakub Jermar

Let me contribute with my understanding of what a federation is and how it comes together, or rather how it should come together in the ideal case. Of course, there are entire papers and toolkits written on the topic, but just for a summary, this is how I view it (and I am no federalist scholar). In the beginning there are some independent states with citizens. The citizens of each individual state are the source of sovereignty for that state. They either created that state or at least maintain it. Ultimately they decide everything. At some point, they realize that their state is too ineffective for the tasks they assigned to it and too ineffective for the reasons they created / maintain their state for. And they see there are like-minded citizens in the neighboring states with overlapping interests. They realize that together they can become citizens (one people) of a new state with respect to the few tasks that are better done on that new bigger level and to the shared interests. They write down the constitution to create a new state (or a republic) that exists in parallel (i.e. not above) with the original states. As the people of the new state and the people of the original states they reassign the powers so that the few tasks and powers are given to their new common state while the rest stays with the old original states. Thus each individual citizen is a citizen of at least two states: their original state and the new state (the federal level). In fact it is the citizens shared between the federation and the original states that glue the states to the federation. I would go as far as to say that the states are not members of the federation in the traditional sense, the individual pieces are just held together by the common citizens (and their will) and the constitution (i.e. the expression of the citizens’ will; and yes, the constitution limits the states and also gives them some voice on the federal level).

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