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From Bullets to Ballots, from the Streets to Parliament. Party Organizational Change in the Basque Country: The Case of EH Bildu

Abstract : In the aftermath of the European Great Recession, center-periphery conflicts have shown to be still topical and structural in some regions of European countries, such as Scotland or Catalonia more recently. Contemporarily, new actors have emerged, shaking up party systems in many of these countries. While much attention has been raised on these party system changes, on new political parties, or “new” cleavages emerging, the transformations of the center-periphery cleavage haven’t been subject to a macroscopical analysis. What do these conflicts tell us about the current structure of politics in Europe? And what does the concept of nation entail for new emerging parties on the left in contexts of nations without a State, and how do these sub-state regionalist and nationalist parties and movements adapt in today’s politics? My research seeks to explore these different issues through an analysis of the cleavage structure of politics in regions with traditionally salient center-periphery cleavages: the Basque Country, Scotland and Northern Italy, on the three dimensions of the cleavage: namely, organizations, ideology and social structure. Nevertheless, as the empirical research is still ongoing, this paper will mainly discuss the theoretical and conceptual framework, but will also introduce my first results on the transformations in the Basque Country. A new political scenario emerged there in the midst of the euro-crisis after the armed separatist organization ETA put and end to its activity, the same year the 15M movement shook up the streets and plazas all over the country. Since, Podemos made its first appearance in the Spanish political scene, with an initially particular success in this region. As a consequence, I suggest, the left-wing independence movement has undertaken profound changes in its organization, called EH Bildu, their strategy as well as ideologically, incorporating much of the “new politics” issues into its program, and redefining the case for independence. In fact, EH Bildu represents an interesting case on the institutionalization of what Sartori called an “anti-system party”, since historically, the radical left-wing independence party organizations have maintained links with ETA and claimed to be a part of the same broader social movement. These changes in the organizational dimension of parties will be explored based on an analysis of the party’s structure and official statutes, complemented with interviews carried out with party members holding public and party office. On the other hand, preliminary research based on the CIS electoral surveys showed the importance of the changing political attitudes and characteristics of younger generations of voters in understanding support for Podemos and EH Bildu. The research seeks to shed some light on how social movements change party politics and the effects on party organizations, as well as contributing to the literature on anti-system parties (Zulianello, 2019). More generally, it aims to give some insight on how to understand the changes in the center-periphery cleavage in the intersection between “new regionalism” (Keating, 2006) and “new politics” (Scantamburlo, Alonso, y Gómez 2017 ; Hutter et al. 2018).
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Submitted on : Monday, October 19, 2020 - 2:28:04 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - 3:04:04 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02971384, version 1

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Emaldi Azkue Luis. From Bullets to Ballots, from the Streets to Parliament. Party Organizational Change in the Basque Country: The Case of EH Bildu. ECPR General Conference, Panel : Challenging the State from Below: New Perspectives on Regionalist and Nationalist Mobilisation, ECPR, Aug 2020, Hambourg, Germany. ⟨halshs-02971384⟩

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