The last decade has witnessed both a radicalization and a moderation of nationalist movements in federal or decentralized liberal-democracies. While nationalist movements in Scotland and Catalonia have made a strong push for secession, no similar change has occurred in Flanders (where secessionist nationalism has remained marginal) or in Québec (where it has declined). These developments raise the question of the causes for the radicalization and moderation of nationalism. This chapter argues that the degree of autonomy afforded to minority national communities by federal arrangements is not that helpful for explaining transformation in the claims of nationalist movements. Rather, the chapter suggests considering the dynamism of these arrangements. It develops the argument that static federal systems are more likely to trigger strong secessionist claims than dynamic ones. Indeed, federal arrangements viewed as open to making ongoing adjustments in response to nationalist claims provide disincentives to the articulation of radical self-determination demands.
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