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Multinational democracy and the consequences of compounded representation: The case of Spain


  • Alonso, Sonia


Democracy is feasible in multinational states. Substate nationalism in Europe has grown stronger, not weaker, during the last decades. And this has taken place because of democracy and not in spite of it. The cohabitation of democracy and nationalism is guaranteed by the establishment of compounded representation. The political decentralization of the state produces a multiplication of the sources of representation. Territorial representation becomes as important as individual representation, and substate nationalists lose incentives to defend a type of political representation that is ethnically based in favour of one that is territorially based. As a result, membership in one nation ceases to exclude membership in another and dual national identities become the rule and not the exception. I shall use the case of Spain as an illustration of this process. Spain is a paradigmatic case of how to establish a stable democracy in a multinational state with deeply entrenched nationalist conflicts. Thus, it is the best possible illustration in order to defend the viability of democracy in multinational societies under constraining conditions (new democracy, the presence of secessionist terrorism, highly mobilized minority nationalisms, etc.). In fact, Spain in 1977 lacked most of the conditions established by Dahl (1971) as essential if a country with con-siderable subcultural pluralism was to maintain its conflicts at a low enough level to sus-tain polyarchy.

Suggested Citation

  • Alonso, Sonia, 2008. "Multinational democracy and the consequences of compounded representation: The case of Spain," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Democracy and Democratization SP IV 2008-202, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbdsc:spiv2008202

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    1. repec:spr:infosf:v:3:y:2001:i:2:d:10.1023_a:1011447204659 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:spr:infosf:v:3:y:2001:i:1:d:10.1023_a:1011439901227 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
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