Personal union

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Under personal union is defined as the practice of various unconnected offices or functions by the same person, but that does not by that person possible dominated total area. A personal union arises for reasons inherent in the person (for example because it was elected in separate elections for both offices or through inheritance).

Distinguished from the personal union are the Real Union and the double hat , where the offices and functions are themselves connected necessarily with each other, therefore the minister is necessary the same.

Connection of states

In general political theory , the connection of independent states by a common head of state is referred to as a personal union. The government of several countries in personal union played a major role , especially in the feudal period . Until well into the 18th and 19th century there was no uniform usually state , but a monarch reigned over lands and thus a plurality or multiplicity of states, each with its own constitution , government systems and corporative participation rights . A personal union was created in that, according to the rules of succession to the throne of different monarchies, the throne fell to the same person or, in the case of elective monarchies, the respective electoral body elected the monarch of another state as head. It ended when the line of succession fell to two different people again.

Modern state formation since the 18th century relied on the standardization of this diversity. But even then there were still various personnel unions. The modern states affected by this had the same ruler, but were also governed by different laws and remained legally separate. The modern trend towards the unification of the state has, however, been combined with that of nationalism since the 19th century and in the course of the then prevailing nation state formation either the still existing personal unions disintegrated or they were consolidated into a real union. In the case of the latter, the connection does not only exist in the person of the head of state, but also in other joint institutions (state bodies and administrative bodies). The connection is therefore more intensive and more legally regulated, but without there being a legal subject overriding the connected states (as is the case with the federal state ).

The concept of personal union is alien to the concept of sovereignty in modern nation-states and democratic principles, which is why it - although theoretically conceivable - does not occur in the practice of republics. (Historical exceptions were the Anglo-Dutch personal union under William III of Orange from 1689 to 1702 or Simón Bolívar , who as President of Greater Colombia from 1824 to 1827 was also ruler of Peru and in 1825 also of Bolivia , the Dutch-Indonesian Union from 1949 until 1954 and the planned Franco-British Union under the British Crown in 1940 and 1956. )

Examples of personnel unions of states :

The only personal union between states that still exists today is that between the 16 Commonwealth Realms : United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland , Antigua and Barbuda , Australia , Bahamas , Barbados , Belize , Grenada , Jamaica , Canada , New Zealand , Papua New Guinea , Solomon Islands , St. Kitts and Nevis , St. Lucia , St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tuvalu . The King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other Commonwealth Realms is also head of the Commonwealth of Nations , although most of the 53 member states have their own heads of state and many are even republics. In fact, however, the king or queen is no longer head of state in those Commonwealth countries that are still formally monarchies; his / her protocol tasks are performed by the respective governor general .

Association of Offices

A personal union can also be the union of offices or management functions in one hand or in one person. Personnel unions in the sense of this definition were and are therefore also the union of the offices of party and state heads or of party and government heads. The former occurred, for example, in authoritarian Eastern Bloc states or Middle Eastern states with one-party systems, the latter also in western democracies, whereas the head of state in western democracies is often constitutionally obliged to suspend his party membership. For example, for almost the entire (first) 70 years of the Federal Republic's existence, the office of Federal Chancellor and party leader of the (largest) ruling party was united in one person, only from May 1974 to October 1982 and from September 1998 to March 1999 and not since December 2018 not anymore. The unity of office and mandate is also widespread, for example when a minister as a representative of the executive also retains a mandate as a member of the legislature. This is countered by the political concept of a separation of office and mandate .

More examples :


A broader definition sees a personal union generally as a combination of “occupations, tasks, responsibilities and services in one person”. According to the Marxist-Leninist theory of state monopoly capitalism , “personal interdependencies between executives of the financial oligarchy and heads of the state” can also be personal unions when “leading monopolists or their representatives occupy important state positions and vice versa”, which is a special form of lobbyism . For example, the Romanian Prime Minister Vintilă Brătianu was also Minister of Finance from 1927 to 1928, while his family was the main shareholder of the Romanian National Bank , which the Ministry of Finance was responsible for monitoring.

More examples :

  • In small and medium-sized companies that have chosen the stock corporation as their legal form, there is often a personal union between shareholders, board of directors and management.
  • Supervisory boards of a company can also be members of the supervisory board of other companies.


Web links

Wiktionary: Personalunion  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Karl-Michael Reineck: Allgemeine Staatslehre und Deutsches Staatsrecht. 15th edition, 2007, para. 62 (p. 58)
  2. a b Burkhard Schöbener, Matthias Knauff: Allgemeine Staatslehre. 2nd edition, CH Beck, Munich 2013, § 6, Rn. 45 (p. 269)
  3. Burkhard Schöbener, Matthias Knauff: General Theory of the State. 2nd edition, CH Beck, Munich 2013, § 6, Rn. 47 (p. 270)
  4. a b c d e Burkhard Schöbener, Matthias Knauff: Allgemeine Staatslehre. 2nd edition, CH Beck, Munich 2013, § 6, Rn. 46 (p. 269)
  5. Ralph Spiering, Nikolaus Albrecht: Politics at a Glance , page 313. Book and Time, Cologne 1990
  6. ^ Karl-Dieter Bünting: German Dictionary , Serite 860. Isis-Verlag, Chur / Switzerland 1996
  7. Meyers Handlexikon, Volume 2, page 210. Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig 1977