This website is designed to provide information about the research project on ‘The Dynamics of Nationalist Evolution in Contemporary Spain’ based at the University of Liverpool and led by Professor Richard Gillespie, Chair of Politics. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, award number ES/J007854/1), the project ran from 2013 to 2015.

The project focused on the Catalan and Basque nationalist movements, exploring their relations with central government since the 1990s. The purpose was to gain a better understanding of why regionally-based nationalist movements have experienced different relationships with the Spanish state over time. At times, the Basque and Catalan nationalist parties represented in Madrid have lent support to minority Spanish governments; on other occasions, they have pressed for greater autonomy or even independence, as seen most recently in Catalonia.

Specific aims

• to identify the pattern of evolution of nationalist movements in Spain in terms of a series of dynamics, including in particular: interaction with central government; pressures from the support bases of nationalist parties; competition between parties within the home region; and international influences

• to compare and contrast the experience of Basque and Catalan nationalist parties in respect of competing trends towards radicalisation, on the one hand, and territorial accommodation, on the other.

PhD studentship: Nationalist Politics and Regional Financing Systems in Spain

In conjunction with the project, PhD candidate Caroline Gray investigated the impact of the regional financing systems in Spain on the evolution of the territorial demands of the Basque and Catalan nationalist parties. Spain offers the opportunity to compare two different models of fiscal decentralisation in relation to two different nationalist movements. While Catalonia forms part of the common financing system which gives the regions limited tax-raising competences and involves financial transfers from central government, the Basque region raises almost all of its own taxes under a separate system of substantial fiscal autonomy (the Concierto Económico or Economic Agreement).