Political strategy and ideological adaptation in regionalist parties in Western Europe: a comparative study of the Northern League, Plaid Cymru, the South Tyrolese People's Party and the Scottish National Party
The aim of the thesis is contribute to the growing comparative literature on regionalist parties in Western Europe, focusing on strategy and ideology. The research questions correspond to the three ideological dimensions/domains which are taken into consideration (centre-periphery, leftright and European integration), as well as to the links amongst such dimensions/domains: why are some regionalist parties more moderate (i.e. autonomists) while other are more radical (i.e. secessionists)?; why do some regionalist parties position themselves to the left, while others position themselves to the right?; why are some regionalist parties pro-integration, while others are against?; are there relationships between regionalist parties‟ positions across the diverse ideological dimensions? The analytical framework brings together sociological theories of political alignments with theories of party competition and theories of party change. The empirical section is made up of a comparison of four case studies (LN, PC, SVP and SNP), which are analysed in depth, plus a final chapter that includes the most important regionalist parties in Western Europe. Data are gathered through interviews with prominent party members, party documents (primarily manifestos), election studies and secondary sources. In brief, in the conclusions it is argued that: regions that have been independent states in the past and regions with concentrated ethno-linguistic minorities tend to produce more radical parties on the centre-periphery dimension. Competition between regionalist parties acting in the same region also increases radicalism; 'working class' regions tend to produce leftist regionalist parties, while 'bourgeois' regions tend to produce rightist regionalist parties; positioning on European integration depends mainly on the compatibility of the selfgovernment project with the process of European integration and on parties‟ satisfaction with the policy output of the state vis a vis that of the EU; only weak relationships can be discerned between centre-periphery and left-right positioning, and between centre-periphery and European integration. A stronger relationship is apparent between left-right and European integration positioning.