The European Union and the Rise of Regionalist Parties

Published by University of Michigan Press, 2015.

Rather than weakening the forces of nationalism among member states, the expanding power of the European Union actually fosters conditions favorable to regionalist movements within traditional nation-states. Using a cross-national, quantitative study of the advent of regionalist political parties and their success in national parliamentary elections over the past 60 years, along with a detailed case study of the fortunes of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, I argue that supranational integration and sub-national fragmentation are not merely coincidental but related in a theoretical and predictable way.

At the core of my argument, I posit the Viability Theory: the theory that the EU makes smaller states more viable–and more politically attractive–by diminishing the relative economic and political advantages of larger-sized states. European integration allows regionalist groups to make credible claims that they do not need the state to survive because their regions are part of the EU, which provides access to markets, financial institutions, foreign policy, and other benefits. The in-depth examination of the Scottish National Party–which has gained increasing popular support since the 1970s–serves as a prime example of this phenomenon. Ultimately, scholars and policy makers must recognize that the benefits of European integration come with the challenge of increased regionalist mobilization that has the potential to reshape the national boundaries of Europe.

If you are interested in my book, it is available at Amazon and University of Michigan Press. The European Union and the Rise of Regionalist Parties has been positively reviewed at Perspectives on Politics, Choice, EUSA Review of Books, and West European Politics.