Separatism within and across national boundaries

The nature of separatism
When the people of a region feel alienated from central government, they often seek to gain more political control. Such groups may have a different language or culture or religion from the rest of the state and are often geographically peripheral. They feel remote from centralised
government and feel that they do not receive adequate support, particularly with economic development.

Reasons for separatism
Reasons for separatism pressure in a region include:
• An area which is economically depressed compared to a wealthier one
• A minority language or culture with a different history
• A minority religious grouping
• The perception that exploitation of local resources by national government produces little economic gain for the region
• Peripheral location to the economic/political core
• Collapse of the state, weakening the political power that heald the regions together (e.g. the USSR, Yugoslavia)
• The strengthening of supranational bodies such as the EU, which has led many nationalist groups to think they have a better chance of developing economically if they are

Examples around the world:
• In Spain, the Basque area (northern Spain and southwest France) and the Catalonia (northeast Spain), which now has the autonomy to decide many of its own affairs. The Catalan language, for example, has been taught in all schools in the region since 1983 and has become the official language in education
• The collapse of Yugoslavia and the formation of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and FYR Macedonia
• In Canada, the question of independence for French-speaking Quebec, and pressure from the Innuits in the north that led to the creation of a self-governing region known as Nunavut in 1999
• The break-up of the former Soviet Union (USSR) into its 15 constituent republics, including republics, including Russia, Moldova, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan and
• National groups within the former Soviet republics seeking independence, for example Chechnya in the Russian republic. Rebels have been put down with extreme force by the Russian army
• Czechoslovakia, which separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993
• Belgium, which consists of a Flemish-speaking north and a French speaking south (Wallonia), is almost two countries
• In France, where concessions on self-government have been granted to Corsica, but there is also a movement for autonomy in Brittany (Breton nationalism)
• In Italy, where the Northern League has been agitating for autonomy for some of the northern provinces, Piedmont and Vento (Venice-Verona region)
• East Timor, which sought independence after being annexed by Indonesia in 1976. After a long and bloody struggle between the separatists and militia gangs supported by the Indonesian Army, the UN took control in 1999, handing over to a new government in May 2002
• The bitter struggle against the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka by the Tamils, who want to set up their own state in the northern part of the island. The civil war began in 1983,
and since then has claimed 60,000 lives, including that of the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Ghandi
• The southern region of Sudan, where the population is mainly Christian and is fighting for independence against the majority Muslim population of the north
• Western Sahara, which has been fighting for the independence since 1975 when armed forces occupied the country and incorporated it into Morocco following Spain’s
• Scottish nationalism. Before its union with England, Scotland was a separate kingdom and it till has its own national church (Presbyterian), separate education and legal systems and its own language (Gaelic) which is spoken in parts of the country. The Scottish National Party (SNP) feels that the exploitation of the North Sea oil and gas
has done little to develop the economy of Scotland. The drive for independence was partly satisfied by the establishment in 1999 of a parliament with limited tax-raising powers. In 2007, the SNP became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament – Vote in 2014 on Scottish Independence
• Welsh nationalism. ales has its own language, and its nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, has gained increasing power. The drive for independence has been partly satisfied by the creation in 1999 of a Welsh Assembly (with devolution of decision-making powers, but not tax-raising

Consequences of separatism

The consequences of separatist pressure may be peaceful or non-peaceful. Those desiring more autonomy have used a wide range of activities to create or press for it. In increasing order of extremism, they include:

• The establishment and maintenance of societies and norms with clear separate cultural identities within a country (e.g. the Bretons in France)
• The protection of a language through the media and education (e.g. Welsh, Catalan)
• The growth of separate political parties and devolved power (e.g. the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists)
• Civil disobedience (the Friends of Owen Glendauer)
• Terrorist violence (e.g. the Basques, Chechnya)
• Civil war (e.g. East Timor, Tamil Tigers)
Reasons and consequences can be studied through a range of case studies.