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In politics, regionalism is a political ideology focusing on the "development of a political or social system based on one or more" regionsand/or the national, normative or economic interests of a specific region, group of regions or another subnational entity, gaining strength from or aiming to strengthen the "consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population", similarly to nationalism. More specifically, "regionalism refers to three distinct elements: movements demanding territorial autonomy within unitary states; the organization of the central state on a regional basis for the delivery of its policies including regional development policies; political decentralization and regional autonomy".
Regions may be delineated by administrative divisions, culture, language and religion, among others.
Regionalists aim at increasing the political power and influence available to all or some residents of a region. Their demands occur in "strong" forms, such as sovereignty, separatism, secession and independence, as well as more moderate campaigns for greater autonomy (such as states' rights, decentralization or devolution). Strictly, regionalists favour confederations over unitary nation states with strong central governments. They may, however, embrace intermediate forms of federalism.
Proponents of regionalism usually claim that strengthening the governing bodies and political powers within a region, at the expense of a central government, will benefit local populations by improving regional or local economies, in terms of better fiscal responsibility, regional development, allocation of resources, implementation of local policies and plans, competitiveness among regions and, ultimately, the whole country, consistent with the principle of subsidiarity.
Regionalism, autonomism, secessionism and nationalism are interrelated concepts, yet they often have different and sometimes opposite meanings. For instance, in Spain "regionalism" is regarded as strongly associated with "nationalism" and, often, "secessionism", whereas in Italy, it is generally seen as a synonym of "federalism" and the opposite of "nationalism". In some cases movements or parties campaigning for independence may push for federalism or autonomy within the pre-existing nation state.
In developed, western, liberal-democratic countries, secessionist parties include the Parti Québécois in Quebec (Canada), the Basque Nationalist Party and Euskal Herria Bildu in the Basque Country (Spain and France), the New Flemish Alliance and Vlaams Belang in Flanders (Belgium), the Catalan European Democratic Party and the Republican Left of Catalonia in Països Catalans (Spain and France), the Galician Nationalist Bloc and the Galician Left Alternative in Galicia (Spain), the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party in Scotland, the Plaid Cymru in Wales and, to some extent, Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland (United Kingdom).
In developing countries they include the Polisario Front in Western Sahara (Morocco), the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad in Azawad (Mali), the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda in the Cabinda Province (Angola), and all national liberation movements.
Federalist/autonomist regional parties include the Coalition Avenir Québec in Quebec (Canada), the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico and the Popular Democratic Party in Puerto Rico (a commonwealth of the United States), Lega Nord in Northern Italy (the party has, at times, advocated Padania's independence and its "national section" in Veneto, Liga Veneta , is a proponent of Venetian independence, the Party of the Corsican Nation in Corsica (France), the Martinican Progressive Party in Martinique and the Communist Party of Réunion in Réunion (both French overseas territories), and the New Macau Association in Macau (China).
In some countries, the development of regionalist politics may be a prelude to further demands for greater autonomy or even full separation, especially when ethnic, cultural and economic disparities are present. This was demonstrated, among other examples, in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
Political parties that are regional are not necessarily regionalist parties. A "regional party" is any political party with its base in a single region, whatever its objectives and platform may be, whereas "regionalist" parties are a subset of regional parties that specifically campaign for greater autonomy or independence in their region.
Because regional parties – including regionalist parties – often cannot receive enough votes or legislative seats to be politically powerful, they may join political coalitions or seek to be part of a coalition government. Notable examples include the Sinn Féin's participation in the Northern Ireland Executive since 1999, the New Flemish Alliance's participation in the Federal Government of Belgium since 2014, and Lega Nord's participation in the Italian government in 1994, 2001–2006 and 2008–2011.
Examples of regional parties that do not generally campaign for greater autonomy or federalism include most provincial parties in Canada, most regional and minority parties in Europe, notably including the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (Germany), most parties in Belgium, most parties in Northern Ireland, the Istrian Democratic Assembly in Istria and the Alliance of Primorje-Gorski Kotar in Primorje-Gorski Kotar (both counties of Croatia), and most political parties in India.
Regional parties with an autonomist/federalist or secessionist agendas have included the aforementioned Bloc Québécois, Lega Nord, the Vlaams Belang, the New Flemish Alliance, the Catalan European Democratic Party, the Republican Left of Catalonia, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, and Sinn Féin.
Lists of regional and regionalist parties are available at:
In Spain, an autonomous community is a first-level political and administrative division, created in accordance with the Spanish constitution of 1978, with the aim of guaranteeing limited autonomy of the nationalities and regions that make up Spain.
Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Some of the most famous and significant secessions have been: the former Soviet republics leaving the Soviet Union, and Algeria leaving France. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. A secession attempt might be violent or peaceful, but the goal is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.
A common definition of separatism is that it is the advocacy of a state of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. While it often refers to full political secession, separatist groups may seek nothing more than greater autonomy. While some critics may equate separatism with religious segregation, racist segregation, or sexist segregation, most separatists argue that separation by choice may serve useful purposes and is not the same as government-enforced segregation. There is some academic debate about this definition, and in particular how it relates to secessionism, as has been discussed online.
There have been various movements within Canada for secession.
Belgian nationalism, sometimes pejoratively referred to as Belgicism, is a nationalist ideology. In its modern form it favours the reversal of federalism and the creation of a unitary state in Belgium. The ideology advocates reduced or no autonomy for the Flemish Community who constitute Flanders, the French Community of Belgium and the German-speaking Community of Belgium who constitute Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region which is inhabited by both Walloons and Flemings, and the dissolution of the regional counterparts of each ethnic group within Belgium.
A stateless nation is an ethnic group or nation that does not possess its own state and is not the majority population in any nation state. The term "stateless" implies that the group "should have" such a state. Members of stateless nations may be citizens of the country in which they live, or they may be denied citizenship by that country. Stateless nations are usually not represented in international sports or in international organisations such as the United Nations. Nations without state are classified as fourth-world nations. Some of the stateless nations have a history of statehood, some were always a stateless nation, dominated by another nation.
Breton nationalism is a form of regional nationalism associated with the region of Brittany in France. The political aspirations of Breton nationalists include the desire to obtain the right to self-rule, whether within France or independently of it, and to acquire more power in the European Union, United Nations and other international institutions.
Spain is a diverse country integrated by contrasting entities with varying economic and social structures, languages, and historical, political and cultural traditions. According to the current Spanish constitution, the Spanish nation is the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards, composed of nationalities and regions which the constitution recognizes and guarantees the right of self-government.
Both the perceived nationhood of Spain, and the perceived distinctions between different parts of its territory are said to derive from historical, geographical, linguistic, economic, political, ethnic and social factors.
Galician nationalism is a form of nationalism found mostly in Galicia, which asserts that Galicians are a nation and that promotes the cultural unity of Galicians. The political movement referred to as modern Galician nationalism was born at the beginning of the twentieth century from the idea of Galicianism.
Left-wing nationalism or leftist nationalism, also known as social nationalism and referred to as nationalist socialism or socialist nationalism, is a form of nationalism based upon social equality, popular sovereignty and national self-determination. Left-wing nationalism can also include anti-imperialism and national liberation movements.
Petru Rocca was a Corsican politician and writer who supported Corsican independence from France. Initially he advocated regionalism for Corsica within the French state. He briefly supported Italian irredentism in Corsica in the later 1930s, before returning to a position of French-Corsican regionalism during World War II.
The anti-independence is a militant movement on a regional level against the independence of their community and therefore for the maintenance of territorial integrity of State to which the latter is attached. The existence of such movements can only be explained by the presence, in these territories, of strong independence or secessionist claims.