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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Balearic Islands, a Comparative Analysis of Island Region Autonomy

Comparative Politics
National Identity
Political Parties
Miguel Carranza
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Miguel Carranza
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

The political system, political behavior, and the feeling of identity in the Balearic Islands, is characteristic and unique in the world. For a number of decades political scientists have been primarily interested in only one territorial unit: the modern nation-state (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2002). However, in the 21th century the strengthening of subnational tiers, the study of new forms of variegated or shared sovereignty that characterize the creative governance arrangements of decentralizing multilevel states (Hepburn 2010), the studies of the modern nation-state became a surface subject to understand the complexity of the nation-state in the world.
To understand the political behavior, elections and party competition in the Balearic Islands its necessary to understand the autonomic communities in Spain, and also compare the case of the Balearic Islands with the Canarian Islands. Normally islands have developed some of the most innovative autonomy arrangements in the world (Hepburn 2010), instead of that, the Balearic Islands can be considered the only known case where this autonomy is traduced into an Insular Identity. Rather than independence or special forms of autonomy, the integration into the Spanish state form it’s the thing that makes Balearic Island special in a comparative study between archipelagos all around the world.
Well known is the multinational fact of the Spanish State, reflected recently in the trials to Catalan politicians, and at the end of the last century at the hands of the terrorist group ETA and the Basque independence. This multinational fact is present above all through the system of parties at the regional level.
From Catalonia, passing by Galicia and the Basque Country, even to the Canary Islands, enjoy a strong identity, expressed into political parties in the local Parliament. The case of Balearic Islands is the exception on the multinational Spanish State.
A very important tier on this case, is the denominated Island differential, this concept is based on the principle of insularity and islandness. The concept of insularity is the older of the two terms, which relates the physical boundedness of islands (Hepburn 2010). Following the Oxford English Dictionary, insularity encompasses both physical status as well as the effects of this status on its human inhabitants. This concept can be translated to the geographical Spanish reality into the denominated Especial Regime in the Balearic Islands.
Islandness, on the other hand, refers to specific qualities of islands – geographical, social and political – that distinguish them from those of continents (Jackson 2008: 48).
This paper therefore focuses on three questions. First, a comparative study based on the Linz – Moreno question, that shows the identity strength at the community of Balearic Islands compared with the Canary Islands. The second point will study the different political parties on the local Parliament, and also in the National Congress of Spain. The last question deepen the issue of insularity in the study by Eve Hepburn “A comparative analysis of the Island Region Autonomy”, so it can be concluded with the particularity of the Balearic Islands of the Insular identity.

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