Substate nationalist and regionalist parties have grown in size and strength across Western Europe over the last 20 years. They have entered government at multiple levels, pursued sophisticated demands for territorial empowerment and pushed the issue of decentralisation of state structures. They are responsible for elevating party competition on the territorial cleavage above that of the class cleavage. The chapter makes the argument that substate nationalist and regionalist parties can be understood as ‘contagious parties’ in multilevel party systems. They are exerting a formidable influence on the territorial positions of other parties, encouraging them to more strongly defend territorial interests and pursue enhanced forms of self-determination. Territorial contagion has a stronger impact on centre-left parties than on centre-right parties, works mainly at the substate level, affects parties in government more strongly than parties in opposition, and has more apparent effects on programmatic discourses than on organisational adaptation.
Eve Hepburn and Klaus Detterbeck
The study of territorial politics has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the last thirty-odd years. As an organizational principle for framing politics and society, territory has always – and will continue to – shaped the social and political evolution of humanity. Yet, for quite some time mainstream social science has followed the all-encompassing narrative of the nation-state that neglected the saliency of other territorial orders. Scholars of territorial politics – which spans the fields of regionalism, federalism, nationalism, political sociology, intergovernmental relations, public policy, comparative politics and multi-level governance – have together supplied empirical evidence, theories and arguments to make the case for an outright rejection of state-centric views of politics. The chapter provides an overview of the objectives and structure of this Handbook, and argues that we need to understand how and why territory continues to provide a source of belonging, identity, social values, political life and economic development within and across the borders of nation-states.
Klaus Detterbeck and Eve Hepburn
Political parties, once instruments of national integration, are now faced with the challenges of denationalization and policy divergence. There are numerous ways in which political parties have responded to state structural change and the heightening of territorial dimension of politics. The chapter identifies six strategies of adaptation amongst statewide parties, ranging from centralism to bifurcation. The comparative case analysis suggests a range of factors to account for variation across parties and across countries. The ideological positioning of parties, their constitutional aims, organizational traditions are internal drivers of the territorial rescaling of statewide parties; the existence and electoral salience of non-statewide parties, institutional changes in the territorial structures of states and the forces of supranational integration are among the external pressures. New forms of coordination and interdependence within parties and greater divergence between statewide and sub-state levels of party competition are heralding the resurgence of territory in multi-level party politics.