Federalism and Secession: At Home and Abroad
Posted: 27 Feb 2001
Western democracies have developed a number of effective models for accommodating ethnocultural diversity. One of these involves the use of federal or quasi-federal forms of territorial autonomy to enable self-government for national minorities and indigenous peoples. I believe that these forms of territorial autonomy are in general a success. The merits of these models have been underestimated, however, because many people measure success by an inappropriate criterion: namely, the absence of secessionist mobilization. This cannot be the correct standard for evaluating democratic multination states. The success of western approaches to territorial autonomy is related, in a complex way, to a particular view about the legitimacy and perhaps even inevitability of secessionist mobilization.
Keywords: Secession, ethnocultural diversity, multination federalism, minorities
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