Is it the fault of the government's progressiveness that regions with strong desires for independence and self-rule, such as Corsica, the Basque region, Catalonia, Bavaria, Moravia, and Sicily, have limited regional assemblies and have never been offered independence referendums?

Why is Scotland the only separatist region of Europe that has independence leaders in power and had a referendum on the question of independence?

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    It doesn't make much sense to ask about all of them lumped together. France has a very centralized government, while Spain and Germany are federal. No idea what Italy does, but I'd guess it's closer to France. Each country will have a different reason for how it manages those affairs and those will be also be due to historical reasons. The answer would thus be pretty long. Also the "U" in UK is there for a reason. Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 5:01
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    FWIW, the independentists in Corsica talk up a good game - but sadly for the French taxpayers - would be unlikely to carry an election. lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2008/10/01/… so very strong might be overstating the case. I think there is more support for Corsican independence from the general French population. In the old good old days, the subsidies to Corsica from the central government were classified "Secret Defense", i.e. Top Secret. Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 5:07
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    What are you calling "government progressivism" ? Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 5:53
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    @Trilarion "been allowed" would be clearer in that title. Did improve Q tho. Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 7:40
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    The question misstates the status quo in many instances. Some of these regions, such as Basque Spain, do have significant amounts of regional autonomy, even though they don't have independence of top level sovereign states.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


Regarding Germany:

  • Bavaria has a regional parliament. It is one of sixteen federal states.
  • The largest regional party, the Christian-Social Union, is happy to wield an outsized influence over federal politics through their legislators in the federal parliament.
  • The autonomist Bayernpartei polls at about 2%.
  • Recognized national minorities are the Danes, Frisians, Romani, and Sorbs, but not the Bavarians. There was a plebiscite for the Danes a century ago, after WWI. A generation later, Denmark and Germany agreed on a package of mutual minority protections instead of touching borders. I'm not aware of any Frisian independence movement (which might be a lack of information on my part). The Romani and Sorbs would not form viable territories.

If any of the regions wanted out, even a referendum would require federal legislation. But it would be silly for the the federal level to legislate a referendum against the wishes of the region.

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    Say it more clearly: Bavaria is not a region with "strong will for independence".
    – Roland
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 6:28
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    @Roland, I'd say Bavaria celebrates a distinct identity, more than other parts of Germany. That could flip towards separatism if they no longer think that they can push Federal politics around.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 17:38
  • It should be mentioned, that it was free will of Bavaria to join German Empire, at least oficially.
    – convert
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 19:20
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    There is this joke about the Bayernpartei (advocating for Bavarian independence) that if they were allowed to appear on ballots in all of Germany they would get more votes in Berlin than in Bavaria.
    – quarague
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 20:57

Because a leave vote of 51%/49% could start a civil war. Politically, giving a region it's own parliament is a much safer bet.

Brexit decided to leave the EU 52%/48%. Several commentators pointed out that if the referendum were held again, it could flip the other direction just on who turned out that day.

Northern Ireland stayed in the UK while the rest of Ireland became an independent nation in the 1921, which started "The Troubles". In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement seemed to have ended the Troubles, after 77 years. The Good Friday Agreement also explicitly allows Northern Ireland to leave and rejoin Ireland with a referendum.

Germany reunified in 1990. It's unlikely there is real political will behind splitting it up again.

Most votes are electing representatives. It's a contentious fight, but they'll have to run again in some years, and voters usually have elections in the mean time to strengthen or weaken the party currently in power.

Stay/Leave votes are one way. The loss is catastrophic. If you're having a Say/Leave vote, there is obviously not a good sense of national unity. All these things mean there's a good chance for violence.

  • Interesting point, wondering if it can be also valide outside the West.
    – convert
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 14:18
  • If you count the USSR, then when the government collapsed all the previous states just declared independence, and Russia didn't do anything to stop them - until now :( Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 14:05
  • And what about Yugoslavia?
    – convert
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 15:05

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