Claims for secession and Federalism

The Spanish case in the light of federal experience






Second WAYS OF FEDERALISM Conference

Revisiting the Ways of Federalism and The Horizons of Territorial Autonomy in Spain

Bilbao (Spain), 25-26 November 2015


Bizkaia Aretoa, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)

Abandoibarra – Bilbao




The Department of Constitutional Law and History of Political Thought and of Political and Social Movements of the University of the Basque Country is organizing an International Conference "Claims for Secession and Federalism. The Spanish Case in the Light of Federal Experience (2nd. WoF Conference - Revisiting The Ways of Federalism and the Horizons of Territorial Autonomy in Spain)".


After the first edition in 2011, this Second Ways of Federalism Conference will take place on 25 and 26 November, 2015, in Bilbao, in the Bizkaia Aretoa (Paraninfo of the UPV/EHU  located in Abandoibarra).  Very close to the well known Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao city center).


Opening an academic forum, the Conference aims to reflect and debate upon secessionist claims and the means of addressing these democratically within the framework of federal systems (generally understood to be systems in which shared rule is combined with self-rule, leaving aside the debates over the description as "federal" of a particular political system).


To this end, two major topics of debate are proposed.

  • The first of these, related to the celebration of territorial referendums on the demands for secession, their viability, competence to call them, where appropriate, as well as the prerequisites for their celebration and the consequences of their results. Is this a referendum on self-determination? What majority can reasonably be demanded in order for this to be regarded as a clear manifestation of a desire for secession?; What role is played by the need to negotiate the conditions of  independence in the event of a favourable result? Would a second referendum of  ratification be necessary, upon conclusion of the negotiation and specification of the conditions for access to independence?
  • Secondly, there will be reflection and debate with regard to the federal system as a means of addressing – and redirecting – secessionist claims. It is a question, in this sense, of considering the conditions in which a federal system can successfully perform this role, especially in plurinational societies, in which the political forces with significant support in some of these societies seek to establish an independent State.


The Conference is a sequel to the Conference WoF - The Ways of Federalism and the Horizons of Territorial Autonomy in Spain, held in Bilbao in October 2011, the contents of which were published –in English- by Springer, in two volumes and also in Spanish by the IVAP (Basque Institute of Public Administration).