Secessionist claims in the European Union: the role of institutional incentives

Guest Lecture Series

27 March 2018
Versione stampabile

Location: School of International Studies, via T. Gar 14, Trento - Room 108
Time: from 14:15 to 16:00

Guest Speaker

  • Emanuele Massetti
    University of Surrey, United Kingdom



Secessionist instances within the European Union (EU) have attracted a lot of scholarly attention in recent years, particularly during the orderly referendum on independence held in Scotland in September 2014 and, even more, the rather disruptive Catalan referendum held in October 2017. Yet, until the 1990s, regionalism in Europe had predominantly taken the autonomist, rather than the secessionist, variant. The lecture aims to explain the roots of current secessionism, reviewing the shift from autonomist to secessionist claims in several regions across Western Europe since the beginning of the new millennium. While endorsing the main findings of the historical-sociological approach, which highlighted the importance of distinctive markers of ethno-territorial identities, the analysis focuses on the role of some key institutional factors and the incentives that these place on key political actors (i.e. regionalist parties). In particular, the lecture concentrates on the effect of electoral systems, devolution reforms and European integration. A discussion of the complex and rather contradictory effect of European integration, represents an occasion to also sketch-out new lines of research on contemporary secessionism in the EU.