Accommodating multinationalism in Russia and Canada : a comparative study of federal design and language policy in Tatarstan and Quebec
Federal institutional design is widely seen as one of the key forms of the accommodation of multinationalism. This thesis compares the experience of two multinational federations, Russia and Canada, specifically the cases of Tatarstan and Quebec respectively, to test this proposition. In these cases, regional leaders assert that the federal constitutional and institutional framework does not sufficiently address their claims for recognition and jurisdiction. Since the constitution and federal design are themselves disputed, the governance of these claims does not depend only on getting the institutions right. Rather the governance of multinationalism in Russia and Canada depends on the ability of elites to engage in ongoing processes of negotiation and accommodation. To gain more insight into the role of federal design in accommodating multinationalism, the thesis features two policy case studies of the language issue. Language policy constitutes an appropriate and interesting arena to gauge the effectiveness of federal design to provide recognition and jurisdiction, because it is an area on which both federal and regional governments adopt legislation. Policy-makers in both cases believe they possess sufficient autonomy to carry out their objectives; a regime of parallel official languages in Tatarstan and the establishment and protection of the primacy of French in Quebec. Although language policies in Tatarstan and Quebec are examples of effective federalism, the overall constitutional disagreements persist. The thesis finds that attempts to accommodate rather than solve Tatarstan's and Quebec's disagreements may yield better insight into the effectiveness of federal design in creating capacity to manage multinationalism. By engaging in negotiation, elites acknowledge the existence of each others' competing demands. These very processes which in Quebec and Tatarstan have often appeared in an ad hoc manner in turn structure and institutionalise federal-regional relations. These ongoing processes of negotiation provide a means to overcome the constitutional conflict and prevent constitutional deadlock.