It’s the economy, Stupid! or is it just the elite? Explaining the success of regional nationalism in Spain

By | on October 27, 2017 | 0 Comment


Eric Guntermann
Department of Political Science
Université de Montréal
Supervised by André Blais
Grant received in 2013-2014

In this dissertation, I consider whether parties influence support for regional nationalism in four regions of Spain: the Basque Country, Catalonia, the Valencian Community, and Galicia. I argue that the fundamental way parties influence citizens’ opinions is by offering party cues. Citizens adapt their opinions to party cues even in the absence of persuasive arguments or other information. The current literature suggests that such influence takes place via partisan motivated reasoning.

However, it is not clear whether parties influence people in the context of nationalism, since party influence seems to involve adjusting preferences to people’s partisan identities, while nationalism involves a competing identity, with a collectivity people may consider a nation. There is also substantial ambiguity about whether citizens are influenced by parties they like, by parties they dislike or whether they are influenced by both at the same time. I propose that exposing citizens to the positions of parties citizens dislike is key to party influence.

I then analyze both observational and experimental data to determine whether citizens of the four Spanish regions where nationalism is present adapt their nationalist preferences to the positions expressed by parties. I conclude that parties influence the opinions of citizens on nationalism. However, this influence depends on the presence of the positions of parties citizens do not like. Parties cannot simply influence their own partisans by adopting the position


  • Guntermann, E. (2015, april). Representation in Regional Legislatures: Political Elites and Regional Nationalism in Spain. Communication présentée à la Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference. Palmer House, Chicago.

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