Give Us Liberty, or Give Us Money: Growth of Regional Parties Influence in Contemporary Europe

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-6-33-41
Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Science, 29, Staromonetnyi Per., Moscow, 119017, Russian Federation

Received 01.09.2020.

Acknowledgements. The study was carried out at the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences as part of the work supported by a grant of the Russian Science Foundation (RSF). Project no. 19-17-00232 “Post-Soviet Non-Recognized States: Factors of Viability and Risks for Russia”. Collection of electoral data for drawing up a schematic map (Fig.) was supported by a grant of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and Expert Institute of Social Research (EISR). Project no. 20-011-32284 “The Success of Regional Parties in Modern Europe: Causes and Characteristics”.

Abstract. In the early 21st century, many European countries saw an increased influence of political parties relying on localized communities. Many new regional parties (RPs) emerged, which put the scientific community in need of understanding the reasons behind their strengthening positions in Europe. The present research provides a critical review of the RPs’ definitions, examines their origins, place in the political spectrum, factors of electoral success and geographical distribution of their electorate. The study is based on the analysis of the parliamentary and regional elections results in 43 European countries in 2000–2019. A map of the RP support rate by region has been designed, showing areas of the strongest public support. Its correlation with ethnic and cultural composition, political structure, and uneven regional development of the countries of Western and Eastern Europe has been analyzed. Today, in parliamentary and regional elections, RPs receive more than 5% of votes in the area of around 600 sq. kms, or 40% of the European territory (overseas territories excluded). Particular attention is paid to party strategies in national and regional elections. Modern RPs diversify their programs going far beyond the interests of a particular sociocultural group. In parliamentary elections, they often make alliances with national parties. In turn, national parties sometimes speak in regional elections “under the local brand”. The satisfaction of the RPs’ demands to provide the regions with greater autonomy does not have a significant impact on their strategies, which request increasingly wider powers. Despite the fact that individual regional parties even get seats in national parliaments, they have practically no influence on the state policy shaping. Their rise is associated not with electoral results, but with trends in the European political process. One can speak not about the success of particular parties, but about the advancement of the idea of regionalism.

Keywords: regional parties, ethno-regional parties, regionalism, separatism, Europe


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For citation:
Turov N. Give Us Liberty, or Give Us Money: Growth of Regional Parties Influence in Contemporary Europe. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 33-41.

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