Constitutional Wishful Thinking

November 4, 2019

Roger Awan-Scully and I have been working on a paper looking at constitutional preferences and perceptions. Our paper abstract is below, along with a particularly illustrative graph. 

 

 

Abstract: Public attitudes are frequently central to constitutional change, yet the nature of such attitudes are often poorly understood. In this paper, we explore attitudes towards autonomy in two of the UK’s minority nations, Scotland and Wales, which have been part of the global trend towards sub-state regional empowerment in recent decades. We use a measure based on a continuum anchored by extreme points of no and full self-government, to explore an important but neglected question: the relationship between preferences over autonomy and perceptions of the extent of autonomy currently enjoyed. We show evidence of substantial assimilation in public attitudes, rather than contrast: a strong tendency for individuals to perceive current reality to be relatively close to their own preferences. This assimilation is consistent across alternative question formats and is seen in both Scotland and Wales). We explore the extent to which assimilation may be accounted for by levels of political knowledge, interest and other factors, and consider its broader potential impact on public support for constitutional change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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