Populism in Action’s Belgium (Flanders) focused Research Fellow Dr. Judith Sijstermans, along with co-author Dr. Coree Brown Swan, published “Shades of solidarity: Comparing Scottish and Flemish responses to Catalonia” in Regional & Federal Studies and article looking back at the 2017 Catalan independence referendum through the lens of international solidarity.
Dr. Judith Sijstermans told us:
The article considers whether and how Scottish and Flemish nationalists, who also seek independence, reacted to the Catalan referendum. They find that both parties displayed solidarity with Catalonia, through speaking and acting collectively alongside Catalan nationalist counterparts.
Although previous attempts to increase regional influence in the European Union failed, this case of collective action highlights that connections between Europe’s sub-state nationalists remain and that this network can be mobilized to promote sub-state autonomy. However, solidarity was not unconditional. For both the SNP and the N-VA, solidarity was not distinguishable from the parties’ own independence processes. As such, the SNP was cautious in its approach and careful to distance itself from any claims for a unilateral declaration of independence. Meanwhile, the N-VA expressed solidarity more intensely as a way of bolstering its nationalist credentials while in a governing coalition. Solidarity, and the way it is used by other sub-state nationalists, may again become salient as a second Scottish referendum remains on the agenda of the Scottish Government.