chapter  3
13 Pages

Liberal democracy and national minorities

As the past and present experiences show, liberal democracies find it difficult to cope with the demands of territorially concentrated national minorities and often provoke resistance and instability. In this chapter I explore why this is so and how liberal democracy needs to be reconceptualised and reconstituted if it is to come to terms with them. By a national minority I mean a community that has a strong historically based sense of collective identity and forms part of a larger political unit. It is a national community because it has a more or less distinct way of life, institutions, traditions, history, etc. And it is a minority because its membership is numerically smaller than that of the rest of the country. A national minority might be territorially concentrated or dispersed. In the former case, it takes the form of a minority nation, and raises problems not shared by dispersed national minorities. Since these problems are more intractable and sources of much instability, I shall concentrate on them.