Sub-state nationalism within European integration process : a comparative study of Scottish, Basque and Kurdish cases
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Scholarly works have paid little attention to the impact of European integration on Kurdish sub-state nationalism in Turkey, either as a case study or in comparison with sub-state nationalisms in other European countries. At the same time, many studies on sub-state nationalism have put too much emphasis on the ‘transformative’ impact of integration processes on sub-state nationalisms, especially in the Western European context. This study seeks to overcome both shortcomings through a comparative analysis of the Kurdish, Scottish and Basque cases. It is intended not only to contribute to our understanding of each case within the broader dynamics of European integration but also to provide further empirical evidence for a more generalizable understanding of the ongoing evolution of sub-state nationalism within the European integration process. Thus, the broader goal of this dissertation is to understand the impact of the European integration process on sub-state nationalism. Conceived as an arena in which different forms of nationalism challenge and reinforce each other, the European integration process is claimed to have had a significant impact on the sub-state nationalism. In order to assess the nature and extent of these impacts, this study first focuses on the emergence and development of sub-state nationalism in the national context. Adopting the political approach to nationalism, the emergence and development of sub-state nationalism is explained on the basis of the conflict of identity and interests. An opportunity structure-based analytical framework is used to focus on the resources for, and constraints on sub-state nationalist activity in its uneasy relationship with its host-state. The opportunity structure approach is then operationalized in order to examine the impact of European integration on the Scottish, Basque and Kurdish cases. As major political representatives of the nationalist ‘cause’ in their respective ‘homelands’, Scottish National Party (SNP), Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV) and Demokratik Toplum Partisi (DTP) are analyzed in terms of their emergence, development and how they have changed in response to European integration. The empirical findings show that all of these parties support European integration since they consider that the integration process broadens the opportunity structures available to themselves. Both the transformation of the nation-state and the emergence of new channels for regional influence that have also been utilized by sub-state nationalist forces provide these parties with new opportunities. This study shows that the impact of European integration on these parties in terms of their identity construction, ideologies, goals and strategies vary for a number of reasons. Essentially, compared with the SNP and the PNV, the EU’s impact on the DTP has been indirect and limited. It is possible to draw several general conclusions about these cases. First of all, these parties primarily see the EU as an external support system in their competition with their host states. Second, there is no reason to see the EU and sub-state nationalists as natural allies. While the EU does not intentionally encourage sub-state nationalist activism, sub-state nationalist support for European integration is a calculated element of nationalist politics. Third, support for the integration process does not necessarily mean that the ultimate political goals of sub-state nationalist parties have been transformed into aspiring to something less than independent statehood. The British and Spanish cases show that democratic accommodation of ethno-political demands not only leads to the institutionalization of various ethnic groups but also supports the development of dual identities. Nonetheless, it would be unrealistic to expect that devolutionary processes or EU membership will bring an end to sub-state nationalist aspirations. Nationalism, as a form of politics, is not made obsolete by EU integration processes. Rather, the latter reshape the interaction between sub-state nationalist political parties and their host states within new circumstances.