chapter  7
24 Pages

Reframing sovereignty? Sub- state national societies and contemporary challenges to the nation- state

The rise of sub-state nationalism in developed states such as Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom over recent decades has come at a time when the sovereignty of the nation-state is under question as a result both of economic globalisation and of supra-state institutional and legal harmonisation. For many commentators, the re-emergence of sub-state national identities is paradoxical in an age when the state seems to be in decline as a politico-legal force. This chapter contends that in fact the agenda for constitutional reform which is now prevalent within sub-state national societies is in many ways well tuned to a changing world, wherein some features of the state’s traditional legal capacity and political competence are in decline, but in the context of which the state continues to retain considerable significance. The chapter also challenges the assumption that the constitutional programmes of sub-state nationalists within these states is predominantly secessionist, and argues that the main challenge to the legal structure of these states comes in calls for the amendment or radical reinterpretation of the state’s constitutional arrangements in recognition of its plurinational nature.