Separatist Movements in Europe

Topics: Separatism, Basque Country, Secession Pages: 7 (2520 words) Published: April 16, 2012
Rachael Kelly 070008836
Political Extremism and Discourse
Why do some separatist movements succeed and others fail? Explain your answer with reference to at least 3 different countries.

Political Separatism is inextricably linked with nationalism, focusing on the ideas of identity within groups. It has been claimed that “identity is the ultimate popular knowledge” and it is this idea of collective community that has initiated many people around the world to create movements to ensure their group has a chance at developing in the modern world. Within some states, certain collectives have a shared idea concerning their culture, territory or rights, which encourage them to push to have more autonomous power, or even to break away completely, forming their own state. There are more than 70 known separatists groups around the globe, with more than 24 of these being considered active, and a small minority pursuing their interests through violent means. Separatists are concerned with campaigning for more power to be given to a specific group within a state, which is often unsupported by the government or the public, and can be differentiated from secessionists, who wish to create a new state entirely. Linked to both separatism and secessionism is irrendentism, groups who wish to leave the rule of the state they are part of, and join another, already established state. There are many causes of separatism, including territorial and ethnic identity, as well as economic and bureaucratic inequality. Many nation-states have felt pressure from separatist groups or parties, such as the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the United Kingdom, Basque separatism in the north of Spain and south west France, and the issue of Flanders and Willoma in Belgium. Through exploring the definition of separatism, as well as its causes and methods, this essay will analyse the success of separatist movements in Scotland, Spain and Belgium,

Separatism is inextricably linked to identity and nationalism within a group. Nationalism is the approach a group has towards their feelings of identity and how they approach self-determination. Slobodan Milosevic stated that “the loss of national identity is the greatest defeat a man can know, which explains the driving force behind the conflict and breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. It has been difficult to define the term separatism, as many scholars use the term secessionism in the same context, however there is a clear distinction between the two. Secessionism refers to the “formal withdrawal form a central political authority”, meaning that a group wishes to create its own independent, sovereign state, which is recognised by the political community. Separatism on the other hand, is concerned with groups who are not fully in agreement with the governing body, and they wish to achieve more political autonomy, perhaps leading to an independent state. Those in these communities believe they should be allowed to govern themselves, and look for ways to advance their people economocially, socially and culturally. It can be said that there are two different kinds of national separatism – territorial and ethnic. Territorial Separatists and Ethnic Separatists. Territorial separatists look to achieve more autonmy for a specific region, who feel that the land is either rightfully theres, or wish to break away from another region who are not helping their best interests. Ethnic Separatists are define by a certain culture, race or language, and believe that the ruling state is not contributing to the development of their community. However separatist groups can include both of these elements, evident in Basque Country groups, who have their own language, as well as seeking political autonomy for a specific region. To understand why some separatist groups are more successful than others, we must first examine the causes behind the want to attain more autonomous power, or independence. Separatism arises through the...
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