Between accommodation and secessionExplaining the shifting territorial goals of nationalist parties in the Basque Country and Catalonia

  1. Anwen Elias 1
  2. Ludger Mees 2
  1. 1 Aberystwyth University

    Aberystwyth University

    Aberystwyth, Reino Unido


  2. 2 Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

    Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

    Lejona, España


Revista d'estudis autonòmics i federals

ISSN: 1886-2632

Year of publication: 2017

Issue: 25

Pages: 129-165

Type: Article

DOI: 10.2436/20.8080.01.17 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openDialnet editor

More publications in: Revista d'estudis autonòmics i federals


This article examines the shifting territorial goals of two of the most electorally successful and politically relevant nationalist parties in Spain: the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV) and Convergència i Unió (CiU). Whilst both parties have often co-operated to challenge the authority of the Spanish state, their territorial goals have varied over time and from party to party. We map these changes and identify key drivers of territorial preferences; these include party ideology, the impact of the financial crisis, the territorial structure of the state, party competition, public opinion, government versus opposition, the impact of multi-level politics and the particularities of party organisation. These factors interact to shape what nationalist parties say and do on core territorial issues, and contribute to their oscillation between territorial accommodation and secession. However, the way in which these factors play out is highly context-specific, and this accounts for the different territorial preferences of the PNV and CiU. These findings advance our understanding of persistent territorial tensions in Spain, and provide broader theoretical insights into the internal and external dynamics that determine the territorial positioning of stateless nationalist and regionalist parties in plurinational states.

Funding information

This article is a result of a broader research project carried out thanks to the support provided by the University of the Basque Country (GIU 14/30), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (HAR2015-64920-P) and the European Regional Development Fund. The research undertaken by Anwen Elias for this article was funded by the Nuffield Foundation (ref: NCF/36360).

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