The[or(1] intrastate tensions is quickly altering the geopolitical

Theor(1  recent spiral in the number of active separatist movements across
Europe hasn’t gone overlooked
by political commentators.
According to Business Insider (2017), the number of active separatistor(2  movements across twenty-four states in Europe stands at sixty-seven and
for many, the rise in intrastate tensions is quickly altering the geopolitical
structure of Europe. Drawing from the all-recent independence referendums in Catalan (2017) and
Scotland (2014), which this research paper will focus on, the driving forces
behind irredentist motivations
falls down first and foremost to questions over national identity. For example,
national identity for Catalans is a problem in a multifarious state like Spain, where the language
and cultural peculiarities in the periphery juxtaposes that of the core. This
has consequently led to an increase in support for independent/ nationalist
parties over time, with political figures who represent such parties shedding
light on how greater autonomy will coincide with greater benefits
socioeconomically. This research paper will also examine how pivotal moments
such as, independence referendums and financial crises are intrinsically tied
to the growing desire for independence.

 

Literature
Review

This section of the research paper discusses previousor(3  literature on the reasons for public support for territorial
independence in 21st century Europe. A number of literature hold
national identity as the source of the all-recent drive for independence in Europe and look
at this idea of national identity from either a historian’s or social scientist’s
standpointor(4 . This research paper will focus on the
latter, who argue that national identity is not ‘naturally given’ and is a
result of ‘over-identification with one tradition’ (Golubovic?, 2010). In an objective sense, all members of
the social unit will
share the same properties such as symbols, language, religion, common history,
values and traditions’ (Inac, 2013) and in turn, the individual internalisesor(5  the values of that particular society,
while directly or
indirectly disregarding other forms of social expressions. As
a result, the drive for nationalism comes from strong national identity, with White
(2010) defining nationalism in three parts:

1.     People identify deeply with a community

2.     Such people believe that the community
should have a state

3.     People are willing to defend this state
with their lives

Thus,
if the laws and institutions in the political core are the results of cultural
processes, it can be difficult for the individuals on the periphery or from a
different cultural background to accept them (Mitchell, 2012).

For
example, the Volkgeist theory refers to the “spirit” and “national character”
of a group of people. The variations between Catalonians and Spaniards stems
from the self-reliance, proactivity and parsimony of Catalonians (Llobera,
2004), thus reifying why
they want to reclaim their national identity and be a sovereign state because
of their differing values. However, modernists have questioned whether sociocultural differences are/
explain the underlying reasons for the rise in support for regional
parties across Europe. For modernists, the strategies of nationalists reflected
patterns of industrialisation and nationalism itself was perceived as a derivative idea of the
functional necessities of industrialisation (Newman, 2000). With one
region developing more rapidly than the rest of the country, this results in
such regions being more likely to want autonomy, as they view themselves as
self-sufficient. However, some argue that the modernist theory is arguably flawed, as a
national culture is the first step in the push towards independence. It promotes
inclusiveness, citizen compliance and thus, legitimises political rule (Harty,
2001).

The rise
in territorial independence has been effective because of the increasing
mouthpiece independent party members are for the masses. In essence, they are
the voice of reason for the people of the peripheral and seek policies that
will favour irredentist supporters. Politicians in some of Europe’s active
separatist regions agree that they ‘lack the appropriate decision-making power
in important domains such as taxation and public spending’ (Noble, 2014).
Through use of rhetoric’s such as “the way forward” by Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party
(SNP) and “we make independence possible” by the Catalan Solidarity for Independence
party, they have been able to inspire feelings of confidence into
pro-independence supporters and shed light on how secession will achieve self-determination
over political and fiscal policies. Evidently, this is expressed through the increase in vote shares for pro-independence
parties

Design
of the project

The
design of this project will focus on how differences in identity has driven
independence movements in Europe, focusing particularly on Catalonia and
Scotland. In Spain, a state that is known for its diversity, Catalonians have
increasingly gone from a large part of the population overwhelmingly
identifying with both the Spanish and Catalonian way of life, to just
identifying with the Catalonian culture in the last decade. Similarly, in
Scotland, their identification to British culture has also seen a change,
though it is not as pronounced as the Spain-Catalonia case. I will then lightly
touch on economic factors and see if this acts as an underlying driving force
behind pro-independence movements, using statistical data.

Research
Design

This section details the method I will use to gather
my data. As aforementioned, national identity is an important factor pushing
pro-independence movements in Europe. I will use secondary quantitative data to
investigate the underlying reasons behind why Catalonia has gone from an
increasingly dual identity state
to a state that only
identifies with one culture and one way of life. The graph below looks at the ways identity in
the Catalan region has changed between 1979 to 2010. As my research question is
‘what are the causes of public support for territorial independence in Europe
in the 21st century?’, I am going to identify periods of high
association of Catalonian identity and see if this is linked to specific events
that took place in Spain and see if this was a contributing factor to the
increase in Catalonian identity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will then use secondary qualitative data to
investigate the case of Scotland. Qualitative interviews were conducted on four
focus groups of 60 to 70 members, with two groups of Scottish nationals and two
groups of migrants, between 2000 and 2005. The aim of the interview was to
investigate whether the nationals that were being studied feel more British
than Scottish, vice-a-versa or equally British and Scottish. The interviews
included a series of open-ended questions, with one question for the Scottish
nationals being ‘would you consider yourself more Scottish, British or equally
Scottish and British’ (Bechhofer, 2010).

Analysis

Figure 1 is a visual representation of how the number
of Catalonians who ‘feel Spanish’ has declined overtime. Between 1979 and 1985,
there was a sharp fall in the number of Catalonians who ‘felt Spanish’ and this
in turn, was followed with a sharp increase in the number of Catalonians who
felt Catalonian. This was a clearly a result of the Spanish constitution granting the right for
historic communities to form autonomous regions in Spain, with Catalonia
being one of the first regions to do so. From this point onwards, the number of
people who felt Catalonian and more Catalonian than Spanish followed in an
upward direction, with 2009-2010 being the peak in the 21st century.
The 21st century saw a series of protests for independence in Spain,
namely the Catalan independence demonstration in 2012, the Catalan Way in both
2013 and 2014 and the Free Way to the Catalan Republic (2015). Such protests are
not only a way for Catalonians to come together in unison and be vocal about
their wishes to leave Spain, it is also a useful way to express their identity
through the use of the official Catalan Esteleda, which is the unofficial flag waved
by Catalan nationalist supporters
as opposed to the Catalan Senyera. The Catalan Esteleda is a combination of the
‘Puerto Rican and Cuban flags, who gained independence from Spain in 1898 and
1902’ (Harris, 2017). Thus, the flag is both a representation of the resilience
of several Catalans and the desire to be unrestricted and free. Language is
also an important form of cultural expression for Catalonians and has become a way
of fostering a sense of
loyalty and unity within the region because of the way it was previously
suppressed under previous governments. According to data from the 2001 Spanish
census, ‘74.5% of the Catalan population spoke Catalan’ (Comajoan, 2004) and
this is when we see a rise in the number of people who feel Catalan and more
Catalan than Spanish in the graph above. Thus, this proves that although for many
Catalans, Spanish may have been their first language, it does not take away the
fact that more and more Catalonians identify with the Catalan language than
Spanish.

Likewise, the secondary qualitative data on Scottish
identity shows a similar pattern to that of the Catalan nationals. 73% of Scots
answered that they were mainly Scottish and below are some of the responses
from the Scottish nationals:

Respondent A (migrant): ‘Because I’m Scottish not British.
It just makes more sense’

Respondent B (migrant): ‘It’s got to be the first one;
it’s got to be Scottish not British’

Respondent C (national): ‘I was born in Scotland and
I’m proud of my Scottish heritage’

Respondent D (national): ‘I feel uncomfortable about the
idea of being British because I want to distance myself from the British Empire
and all it stood for.’

 

It is often difficult to decipher the difference
between the Scottish and British culture today due to the effects of modernisation.
However, from the above responses, it appears that being Scottish is something both
nationals and migrants hold highly, with nationals taking pride in their Scottish
heritage and history and what it stands for. In comparison to the situation in
Spain, the UK has respected the national identity of its four members. Therefore, the reasons driving
independence in Scotland is more likely to do with feeling alienated from the
political core, London, and this has been translated in increased vote
shares for SNP in the last decade alone. The 2015 General Election saw a total
of 50 out of Scotland’s 59 seats go to the SNP’s (BBC, 2015), in a region that
was previously dominated by the Labour party. A year later, an overwhelming 62%
of Scots voted to remain in the EU (BBC, 2016), an unequivocal contrast to how
the rest of the UK voted. These two pivotal moments marked a changing UK and as
one of the nationals stated in the interviews conducted by Bechhofer, ‘an independent
Scotland would mean greater autonomy, politically and economically’. Scottish
institutions have shown the ability to exist independently, with policy differences
in higher education and health care being evidence of political cultures that
are dissimilar.

Both Catalan and Scotland are similar in the sense
that their irredentist movement has been driven by the belief that independent
of Spain and the UK, they will not only be better-off financially, but have
greater regulations over policy-making. Catalan is considered one of the
richest parts of Spain, with an average GDP per capita of £28,198.50 in the
last decade, considerably higher than that of Spain’s (Statista, 2018). Thus,
many Catalans maintain that an autonomous state will strengthen the region’s profile
socioeconomically, as Catalan tax revenues that currently account for one-fifth of the
Spanish economy, will be redirected into the Catalonian economy (CNBC, 2017).
Furthermore, Catalan’s GDP per capita dropped dramatically between 2008 and
2009 because of the Spanish financial crisis that took place in the latter half
of 2008. This saw Catalan having to account for a huge sum of the national debt
acquired, hence why many Catalans hold that the core drains the periphery economically.
Scottish nationals also hold this outlook. The North Sea Oil is a profound part
of the UK’s GDP, but Scots believe the they should have rightful claim over the
North Sea Oil and a large sum of the net revenue generated should not be
redirected back into the core. Many Scots hold that even without the revenue
that the oil generates, Scotland would still be able to stand independently as
its economy without the North Sea Oil, is similar to that of the rest of the UK
(McCrone, 2014).

In conclusion, the findings of my research suggests that
the drive for independence in the 21st Europe falls down to
differences in national identity and the belief that as an independent state,
regions like Catalan and Scotland will be able to survive economically. Looking
specifically at Catalan and Scotland, nationals view themselves as peripheral to
the rest of the country and thus, their voice is often disregarded on a
national level. Self-government will pave the way for policy-making that will favour
those living on the periphery. Though the situation in Catalan and Scotland is
dissimilar, in the sense that Scottish national identity has not be suppressed
by the UK government, in the way that the Catalonian identity has in Spain.
Nevertheless, pro-independence supporters have risen over time because more and
more people are recognising the socioeconomic benefits that will follow if
independence is granted.

 or(1Write this introduction properly with
signposts

 or(2Or secessionist?

 or(3Next bit I can write builds upon previous
research undertaken/ conducted by ___

 or(4Should I list these literatures?

 or(5And practices?