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Shifts in political boundaries and identities

European countries such as Belgium and Spain face shifting political boundaries, and the same holds for Britain. Researchers investigated negotiations between the Spanish nation-state and sub-state regional level from the time of its transition to democracy in the 1970s.
Shifts in political boundaries and identities
The project NEGOTIATINGSPAIN (Negotiating Spain: The shifting boundaries between ‘nation’, ‘nationality’ and ‘region’) targeted a better understanding of shifting legitimacy and sovereignty in Spain, and related processes. Partners investigated discourse in parliamentary debates related to the Statutes of Autonomy in five regions and the successive reforms of these Statutes.

Considering the conceptualisations of the political communities involved in each legislative process, research focused on how changing claims were legitimised by the political elites vis-à-vis the population. More comprehensive analysis of Statute reforms will provide insights covering the political geography of the Spanish state and aspects of the dynamics behind the reforms.

Partners first collected empirical data on 22 legislative processes, 163 parliamentary debates and more than 3 400 pages of transcribed debates. They then advanced a codification protocol for the material to be studied, refined the research design and ensured their model could reliably measure the changes they sought to investigate.

Preliminary results of the comparative analysis of the regions of Valencia and Cataluña were presented at international congresses. Following, a tool was developed that can be used to analyse processes in other Spanish contexts and other countries too. The analytical framework, through which the codification protocol has already been applied to the entirety of the empirical material amassed, will support future analyses beyond the project’s original targets.

Research to date indicates a general tendency in support of strengthened regional identities. Regarding Catalonia, there is clear development from its general definition as a ‘nationality’ towards that of a ‘nation’. For Valencia, its definition as a ‘region’ has developed towards being more strongly defined as a ‘nationality’.

Today, the likelihood of a region gaining independence is higher than it was a few years ago, marking high potential for instability and ripple effects beyond national borders. Project research and findings can contribute to improved governance of EU Member States, as well as the EU as a whole.

Related information

Keywords

Political boundaries, identities, Spain, NEGOTIATINGSPAIN, nationality, legislative process
Record Number: 198755 / Last updated on: 2017-06-06
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