Constitutionalism and Citizenship: Facing the Multicultural Challenge

Francisco Ibarra Palafox


Citizenship, as it was originally conceived, does not satisfy the current expectations of contemporary multicultural societies. In order to better understand the current problems of citizenship and ethno-cultural diversity, this article briefly contextualizes citizenship within the three main historical periods of Western constitutionalism. Notwithstanding that constitutionalism has addressed citizenship through two different models, the national and the republican ones, the article questions these old models and offers new arguments in order to build a transnational and multicultural citizenship. A core proposal of the paper is the creation of a new and more flexible conception of citizenship for ethno-cultural minorities. The new citizenship should meet the following characteristics: 1. Enable ethno-cultural minorities the access to basic rights and liberties; 2. Integrating cultural elements; 3. Including a set of basic socio-economic rights; 4. Incorporating residence as an essential rule for the acquisition of citizenship; 5. For migrants en route, it is essential to recognize the freedom of movement by granting temporary citizenship status.


Citizenship; minority rights; constitutional history; multiculturalism

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