After the economic crisis that affected the European Union, it seems that an awakening of the cultural and identities conflicts in different European countries has now occurred.
In accordance with the last report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), political tensions are being generated, which could be extended to some EU countries. Countries like Spain, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy or the Netherlands have already been affected. The most striking episode was the self-determination referendum held in Catalonia last October 2017.
With the purpose of analysing the sensitivity of the independence claims, WIN has carried out a research in seven European countries, aiming at analysing the state of opinion about this phenomenon.
The sample of the study has been superior to 7,000 online interviews. Fieldwork has been carried out in November-December 2017 by the members of WIN in their respective countries.
The question asked was: “If a region or community of your Country tried to gain independence, what should the Government of your country do?” , with four response options:
- Allow a referendum in the region or community to decide the independence
- Allow a referendum in the whole of the country to decide the independence
- Block the independence
- Do not know / no response
Allow a referendum in the whole of the country is the most supported option among Europeans citizens (36%). The rest is divided by 24% in favour of a referendum in the region or community to decide the independence, 23% that would reject this possibility and 17% that do not support any of the alternatives.
This main option is also the one supported with the majority in all age segments. However, there is more support among the younger towards the possibility of a referendum exclusively in the regions that claim the independence, while among the elderly, the rejection of independence is superior
There are important differences between the countries surveyed. Hold a referendum in the whole of the country would be the majority option in all countries except for Italy. In this country, where the independence of Padania was a historical reclamation of the Lega Nord and there is still a demand for greater autonomy for these regions, the preferred option would be the referendum in the region or community to decide the independence (36%).
In the UK, marked by the Scottish independence referendum (2014) as well as the presence of the Welsh nationalism or the question of Northern Ireland, the support toward the referendum in the region or community to decide the independence is remarkable (31%). Nevertheless, 34% of British would defend to hold a referendum in the whole of the country and 16% would reject any pro-independence project.
One of the most divided countries is Spain, where apart from Catalan nationalism there are other strong nationalist movements in The Basque Country and, to a lesser extent, in Galicia. 36% of Spaniards would defend a referendum in the whole of the country, 31% would refuse any pro-independence project and 25% would support a referendum in a particular region.
Countries where the referendum in the whole of the country would get more support would be Ireland (45%), with the historical conflict of Northern Ireland, and Germany (39%), with the presence of nationalism in Bavaria.
By last, in France and Netherlands, we find the least support toward a referendum in a particular region.
In France, whose State has been characterized by a Jacobin centralizing tradition, there is a claim from the Corsican nationalism (The Corsican specificity). French society, in case of considering the question of the independence of a region, would back up the referendum in the whole of the country (35%) or would reject the independence (29%). Just 19% of French would be in favour of a referendum in a particular region.
In the Netherlands, where there are also independence claims in the province of Friesland, neither the citizens would be favourable to a referendum in a particular region (14%) as a referendum in the whole of the country (33%).
You can also refer to the raw data tables here.
Spanish press coverage: La Vanguardia 29.01.2018