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(May 15th, 2024)

There was a time in the past decade when separatism was in fashion: the Scots wanted to separate from UK, the Catalans would done the same.

The political events of recent years have marked a clear reversal of trend.



In 2017, the Scottish National Party (SNP) get almost all the seats up for grabs for the London parliament north of Hadrian’s Wall (55 out of 59), leaving the others with crumbs. Consequence: Edinburgh First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pasionaria of Scottish independence, relaunches the separatist rhetoric: we will soon hold another referendum to separate Scotland from UK.

Years pass, the SNP doesn’t win the 2021 Scottish elections and London makes it clear that there will not be a secessionist vote in and around Edinburgh before 2040.

In the SNP, disagreements and clashes between hawks and doves arise: in March 2023 Ms. Sturgeon leaves leadership and government overwhelmed by a fund embezzlement scandal in which her husband is involved, a new leader takes over who lasts only 13 months.

In recent days, veteran John Swinney becomes First Minister and interviewed by the BBC says that his main objective is to eradicate poverty.

Is secession from the UK no longer on the agenda?



The movement for the independence of Catalonia, known as “il procès”, also seems to be in decline: the results of the regional elections in and around Barcelona signal a clear regression of the pro-independence parties.

The early vote, caused by the dissolution of the coalition on which the Generalitàt led by the republican Pere Aragonès was based, brings out two fundamental data:

1. the low participation, which borders on 58%, while at the height of the Barcelona-Madrid conflict (autumn 2017) it reached 78%;

2. clear collapse of separatism which loses 13 seats and will not be able to govern.

Furthermore, opinion polls indicate that today only 12% of Catalans really want separation from Spain.

Regardless of the government that is formed in Catalonia, is the “independence” argument no longer fashionable here too?



In the history of Europe, separatism has experienced strong and weak moments: states have usually dissolved and reassembled under different forms, after cataclysmic events, such as world wars or the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

In our lifetime, we saw new states born after the end of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. It was a reshuffling of cards, which brought back into vogue independence movements that had already existed for some time and were just waiting for the right moment to assert themselves.

Even before that, other upheavals occurred at the end of the First World War, when, with the Peace of Versailles, the map of Europe was reshaped, especially on the eastern side.

Separatism, however, within states formed and existing for longer, they struggle to get the better of the unionists: in the 1940s there was a movement that preached the separation of Sicily from Italy; later, in Corsica the path to divorce from Paris was attempted; in the Basque Country a conflict was fought for years between independentists and unionists.

All in vain: Sicily, Corsica and Euskadi remain part of Italy, France and Spain, at least until the next geopolitical upheavals.


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