Strange bedfellows: Public support for the Eu among regionalists

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4 Scopus citations


Between 1979 and 1997, Scottish public support for European integration increased by 25 percent (Jowell, Heath, and Curtice 1998; Miller and Brand 1981), while support for European integration among all Europeans dropped nearly 14 percent (Schmitt and Scholz 2005). At the same time, Scottish public support for independence also increased dramatically, from 6.9 percent in 1979 to 34.3 percent in 1997. In addition, as early as 1997, a majority of Scottish citizens thought Scotland would be completely independent within twenty years (Brown, McCrone, and Patterson 1999: 147). While the European Union (EU) deepens, the United Kingdom itself seems ever more likely to fragment, or, at the very least, devolve further. Are these two trends linked? Regionalists, resentful of centralization and threats of homogenization, could perceive a deeper European Union either as yet another threat to their culture or as an ally in their broader bargaining game with the state. 1 If regionalists view the EU as a threat, then they should be skeptical of European integration, especially regarding political integration. I argue that substate nationalists more often view the EU as an ally, in large part by diminishing the advantages of incorporation in a large, multinational state. By this logic, substate nationalists should not only be supportive of the EU project, but they should also i nd autonomy itself, whether devolution or independence, a more viable and plausible prospect within a deeper European Union. In this chapter, I i rst test these competing logics and i nd that regionalists in Western Europe are Europhiles. Then I analyze the Scottish case in more detail and find that perceptions of Europe and Scotland’s role in it play an important role in the evolving attitudes toward devolution and independence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEurope's Contending Identities
Subtitle of host publicationSupranationalism, Ethnoregionalism, Religion, and New Nationalism
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781139567558
ISBN (Print)9781107036338
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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