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Multinationalism, Constitutional Asymmetry and COVID: UK Responses to the Pandemic

Books & Articles

Article by Dr Karlo Basta (University of Edinburgh, Co-Director Centre on Constitutional Change) and Professor Ailsa Henderson (University of Edinburgh, Fellow at Centre on Constitutional Change)

Published in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics journal.

This article explores how the asymmetric institutionalization of the United Kingdom’s multinationality interacted with the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK’s political elite has traditionally accepted the country’s multinational character, but democratic institutionalization of it occurred relatively recently and in a remarkably asymmetric manner. Only the UK’s minority nations possess devolved governments, while the largest nation, England, is governed directly from the center. This framework has consequences for the pandemic response. It has clarified the relevance of devolved legislatures, but also highlights continued resistance of the UK’s governing elite to acknowledge the multi-level character of the state.