Visions of Sovereignty: Nationalism and Accommodation in Multinational Democracies

Visions of Sovereignty: Nationalism and Accommodation in Multinational Democracies

Visions of Sovereignty: Nationalism and Accommodation in Multinational Democracies

Visions of Sovereignty: Nationalism and Accommodation in Multinational Democracies


In the contemporary world, there are many democratic states whose minority nations have pushed for constitutional reform, greater autonomy, and asymmetric federalism. Substate national movements within countries such as Spain, Canada, Belgium, and the United Kingdom are heterogeneous: some nationalists advocate independence, others seek an autonomous special status within the state, and yet others often seek greater self-government as a constituent unit of a federation or federal system. What motivates substate nationalists to prioritize one constitutional vision over another is one of the great puzzles of ethnonational constitutional politics. In Visions of Sovereignty, Jaime Lluch examines why some nationalists adopt a secessionist stance while others within the same national movement choose a nonsecessionist constitutional orientation.

Based on extensive fieldwork in Canada and Spain, Visions of Sovereignty provides an in-depth examination of the Québécois and Catalan national movements between 1976 and 2010. It also elaborates a novel theoretical perspective: the "moral polity" thesis. Lluch argues persuasively that disengagement between the central state and substate nationalists can lead to the adoption of more prosovereignty constitutional orientations. Because many substate nationalists perceive that the central state is not capable of accommodating or sustaining a plural constitutional vision, their radicalization is animated by a moral sense of nonreciprocity.

Mapping the complex range of political orientations within substate national movements, Visions of Sovereignty illuminates the political and constitutional dynamics of accommodating national diversity in multinational democracies. This elegantly written and meticulously researched study is essential for those interested in the future of multinational and multiethnic states.


Variation in secessionism among nationalists is part of one of the “great puzzles of ethnic politics” (Hale 2008: 1). Although Ukrainians and the citizens of the Baltic republics chose independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Central Asian republics remained bastions of nonsecessionism. Nationalists in Spain’s Basque Country, the Igbo territory in Nigeria’s First Republic, and Québec in Canada have historically been more inclined toward independence than nationalists in Catalonia in Spain, Yorubaland in Nigeria, or Nunavut in Canada (Díez Medrano 1999; Hale 2008: 57). Most scholars who have focused on the problem of variation in secessionism have centered their attention on paired comparisons of national movements in which one case is clearly pro-secession while the other is nonsecessionist, such as comparing Ukraine with Uzbekistan or the Basque Country with Catalonia (Díez Medrano 1999; Conversi 1997). They have generally failed to investigate the complex heterogeneity of political orientations within national movements and their temporal evolution.

This book, by contrast, focuses instead on within-case variation, and opts for a within-case research design, choosing the relevant nationalist party (and its leaders and militants) as its primary unit of analysis. Another focus will be the within-case temporal evolution of national movements themselves. This book’s remit is national movements in states with wellestablished democracies and advanced economies.

There is a dearth of systematic comparative research into the sources and patterns of internal variation in the political orientation of national movements within such states. This book examines why some nationalists . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.