A Federalist Theory of Secession

Wayne Norman

in Negotiating Nationalism

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780198293354
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191604126 | DOI:
A Federalist Theory of Secession

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Preventing secession is the central design challenge in a multinational federation. This chapter considers how a well-designed legal secession procedure in a federal constitution could be attractive to both majority and minority nationalists. Legalizing (or ‘domesticating’) secession the right way could, paradoxically, make secession less likely by taking away some incentives for secessionist politics. It could also provide a powerful form of symbolic recognition for a national minority. The background context of secession in international law, as well as some lessons from the history of secessionist politics and the recent ‘legalization’ of secession in Canada and Quebec are discussed.

Keywords: self-determination; constitutionalism; international law; recognition; institutional design; federation; Canada; Quebec; Allen Buchanan

Chapter.  21483 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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