The limits of freedom of political association in China and Spain due to centre-periphery conflicts

The recent disqualification on pro-independence claims in Hong Kong and in Catalonia needs to be introduced in the discussion of the current evolution democracy and rule of law. Even if these interdictions may seem undemocratic, the protection of fundamental rights, national unity and security had been considered in the past by constitutional judges as legitimate reasons to restrain the freedom of political association and participation. The comparison between Spain and China is relevant as in both countries the disqualification of candidates and the prohibition of political parties are a result of tensions between the central government and political actors from autonomous regions (Hong Kong, Catalonia and Basque Country). This comparison will allow us to cool down the analysis of these highly controversial issues and explore the border between democracy and authoritarianism.