Asymmetrical government: Multinational states in an integrating Europe

M Keating

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


The premodern European state was asymmetrical and differentiated. From the nineteenth century with the rise of democracy, the penetration of the stale into society and later the demand for distributive equity asymmetry was less acceptable. Nonetheless, asymmetrical elements remained, and territorial intermediation was an important feature of the nation-state. In the late twentieth century the reemergence of minority nationalism, the restructuring of territorial politics, and the weakening of the nation-state in the face of globalization and European integration have all fostered a new asymmetrical territorial politics. Europe itself is developing and asymmetrically and within states, national minorities are seeking a new place in Europe. The United Kingdom, Spain, and Belgium illustrate these trends. There is no model of the asymmetrical state to replace the old paradigm, but there is a variety of experiences to support it. This process will be manageable as long as Europe does not itself develop state-like features or a nation-building project of Its own. Instead, it should, while providing a capacity for common policymaking and a common system of basic rights, remain an ambiguous realm of authority allowing competing national projects to coexist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalPublius the Journal of Federalism
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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