Building the ship in dry dock: The case for pre-independence constitution-building in Scotland

W. Elliot Bulmer (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    196 Downloads (Pure)


    For newly independent states, constitution-building can be a defining moment: a time when national identities are asserted, values and norms articulated, and founding myths created. The constitution-building process is a critical juncture between the divergent paths of stable and well-functioning democracy, on one hand, or persistent instability, coups, repression, and state failure, on the other. But what is the proper relationship of constitution-building to state formation? Should constitution-building occur before or after state formation? Or should the two processes somehow proceed in parallel? To address these questions in a Scottish context, this article draws on state-formation and constitution-building processes in the Westminster-derived tradition. The article considers the advantages and disadvantages of these sequences, and discusses the circumstances in which they might be applicable. It concludes by making some tentative recommendations for a pre-independence constitution-building process in Scotland.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)681-694
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Political Science Review
    Issue number5
    Early online date1 Oct 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


    • Commonwealth
    • constituent assembly
    • Constitution-building
    • Scottish independence
    • sequencing
    • state formation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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