Regionalist Parties in Western Europe

By Lieven De Winter; Huri Türsan | Go to book overview

2

ETHNOREGIONALIST PARTIES IN WESTERN EUROPE

Theoretical considerations and framework of analysis

Ferdinand Müller-Rommel


Why study ethnoregionalist parties?

Since the early 1980s much research has been conducted towards developing theoretical explanations for party system change in Western Europe. Transformation processes have been linked to many courses; and given many names, for instance, 'electoral volatility' (Pedersen 1983), 'new value based polarisation' (Inglehart 1987), 'realignment/dealignment' (Dalton, Flanagan and Beck 1984), and 'competition and identity' (Bartolini and Mair 1990). On the whole, all these approaches indicate that some basic characteristics of contemporary Western European party systems have changed.

Despite the diverse labels, however, these approaches have not been able to give us significant insights into ongoing changes in some Western European party systems linked to the existence or the re-emergence of ethnoregionalist parties. Moreover, the political function and legitimacy of ethnoregionalist parties in national and regional party systems have not yet been sufficiently defined and analysed.

The comparative analysis of ethnoregionalist parties has become important for at least two reasons. On the one hand, it seems important to analyse whether the 'centre-periphery' cleavage is once again becoming more prominent in contemporary European party systems. In fact, ethnoregionalist parties have gained significant electoral success over the past few years. On the other hand, cross-national research needs to examine the conditions under which ethnoregionalist parties challenge the current characteristics of political systems in Western Europe (e.g. value change in the mass public, national and regional coalition-building, degree and direction of party competition, etc.).

This chapter seeks to continue the debate on the importance of ethnoregionalist parties in Western European party systems (Lijphart 1977; Newman 1994). Its principal objective is threefold: first, to identify the important ethnoregionalist

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Regionalist Parties in Western Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Series Editor's Preface xi
  • Preface xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • References 15
  • 2 - Ethnoregionalist Parties in Western Europe 17
  • 3 - The Volksunie and the Dilemma Between Policy Success and Electoral Survival in Flanders 28
  • 4 - Regionalist Parties in French-Speaking Belgium 51
  • 5 - Nationalist Parties in Catalonia 70
  • 6 - Moderate Nationalist Parties in the Basque Country 87
  • Notes 103
  • 7 - The Scottish National Party 105
  • 8 - Plaid Cymru 125
  • References 142
  • 9 - The Lega Nord 143
  • References 156
  • 10 - The Südtiroler Volkspartei 158
  • Notes 171
  • References 173
  • 11 - The Failure of Regionalist Party Formation in Corsica 174
  • 12 - Go-Operation Between Regionalist Parties at the Level of the European Union 190
  • Notes 202
  • 13 - Conclusion 204
  • References 246
  • Index 248
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