The literature on federalism has been dealing with an unresolved paradox for many years. On the one hand, by granting autonomy to sub state collectivities, federalism is said to temper demands of sub-state nationalist parties. On the other hand, by institutionalizing sub state identities, federalism is said to provide tools that reinforce autonomist or separatist demands. Important to resolve this paradox is that federal systems can differ strongly amongst each other and that they can interact with other characteristics of a concerned country (electoral system, party system, media system, ...).
This project wants to look into this paradox in an innovative way: by analysing sub state nationalist discourse of political parties and elites over the last four decades in four federal countries: Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and the UK. It wants to do this through frame analysis of party electoral manifestoes and televised election debates for all national elections. Attention will be paid to evolutions in official positions as well as to explicit and implicit elements of (sub-)national identity construction. This way we want to contribute to resolving the federal paradox, by getting a detailed view on the dynamics of sub state nationalism in four federal countries.
October 2010 - November 2012
- Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)