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Coconstitutionalism is where two institutional cultures exist in a complex semi-autonomous relationship to each other. The model of asymmetrical devolution that has emerged in democratic Spain has been called "coconstitutional" in that it is neither a federal nor a unitary model of government: autonomous nation-regions exist alongside and within the Spanish nation-state in a relatively dynamic relationship.

Similarities to federalism are marked although a key difference lies in the legal status of a federal-state versus a notionally unitary coconstitutional one: in a federation, it is the states who legally transfer powers to the federal government (bottom up) whereas in a unitary state power is devolved from the nation-state down to the regions (top down) and can in theory be revoked, but in the case of Spain any such move by a future Spanish government could rekindle the Spanish Civil War, the truth[according to whom?] is such a move would probably require a constitutional amendment. Certainly a statue of autonomy (Spanish, Estatuto de autonomía) cannot be abrogated nor modified save by an initiative of an autonomous regional Parliament—that being, of course, unlikely.[citation needed]

Since 1997, the UK government has pursued a similar coconstitutional model of devolution with regard to its nation-regions.