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Abstract

In the 1980’s minority nationalist parties adopted a policy of “independence in Europe.” Paradoxically, the policy simultaneously advocated conceding powers to a supranational body and taking back powers from the state. EU regional development programs initially spurred these pro-European policies, but these programs have since failed. Given the EU incentives, why do minority nationalist parties remain pro-European? I test a bottom-up, party political theory and use the British case studies of the Scottish National Party and the Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru. I argue that these parties have remained pro-European because they are small oppositional parties. As small oppositional parties, minority nationalist parties have unique strategic mechanisms that incentivize policy inertia. These mechanisms are: (1) the continuity and dominance of party leadership in making EU policy, (2) underdeveloped policy positions, and (3) the importance of transnational coalitions. Implications include the possibility that as minority nationalist parties grow in size and power, they might alter their European position to suit changing strategic considerations.

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© 2014 Judith Sijstermans

Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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