Handbook on the Politics of Small States
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Handbook on the Politics of Small States

Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino and Anders Wivel

Comprehensive and timely, this Handbook identifies the key characteristics, challenges and opportunities involved in the politics of small states across the globe today. Acknowledging the historical legacies behind these states, the chapters unpack the costs and benefits of different political models for small states.
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Chapter 24: Protodiplomacy: sub-state diplomacy and wannabe states

David Criekemans


After a review of the key similarities and differences between sub-state and small state diplomacy, this chapter seeks to shed some light on the conditions that transform the diplomacy of sub-state entities into protodiplomacy. It also asks why most such initiatives end in failure, whereby the sub-state entity does not achieve its goal of becoming a wannabe state, or even suffers rejection. To this end, the chapter presents three cases: one of success (Slovenia in the 1990s); one of failure (Catalonia, especially since 2017); and one ‘in between’ (Kurdistan, also mainly since 2017). In doing so, another aspect of the politics of small states is highlighted: how wannabe states struggle, persist, succeed or fail in the international pecking order of state entities.

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