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Three Models on the Onset of Catalan Secessionism

Friday November 9, 2012, from 11:00 to 13:00
Room Fred Halliday - IBEI (1st Floor)
Research seminar
Catalan secessionist nationalism is an old phenomenon which has recently gained renewed strength. Despite its periodicity and its obvious theoretical and political importance, however, few political scientists have analyzed it using non-ideological and/or non-normative tools. This paper aims at filling this gap by presenting an analytic narrative on the current onset of Catalan secessionism, based on positive political theory (including its methodologically individualistic bias). The first model points to the apparent contradiction in the central Spanish government's policy of taxing Catalan citizens so heavily as to provoke Catalonia's exit from Spain. Accordingly, I analyze an entry model of political limit-pricing, which aims at discovering the rationality behind different stakeholders' strategies. The second model points to the temporal congruence between the Scottish and the (projected) Catalan referendums on independence. Pointing to both the similarities and the differences between these two processes, I analyze a game of strategy played between the leaders of a weak-but-rich secessionist region and those of a powerful-and-possibly-militaristic central government. Finally, the third model attempts to elucidate the exact role of membership of the European Union, and the impact of possible exit from it on the secessionist leaders' actions. Accordingly, I analyze the path-dependent sequence which led from the entry of Spain in the EU in 1986 to the ways EU membership constraints Catalan secessionism in 2012. I conclude with a note on caution on the liberal/populist nature of secessionist referendums, which may or may not distort the dimensionality of individual preferences.