Volume 24, Number 3, February 2015

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Volume 24, Number 3, February 2015

Political ideologies

A new era of European nationalism?

Jessica Hardy

This A2 article surveys the recent revival of nationalism across Europe. Using four case studies, it shows the very different forms of nationalism that have arisen in different countries.

After the catastrophe of the Second World War, nationalism in Europe went into rapid decline. The development of the European Union (EU) and other bodies such as the Council of Europe, alongside growing economic prosperity, made it much less appealing. Globalisation and the rise of interconnectedness and multiculturalism led some to believe that nationalism’s concern for borders and sovereignty were ideas from the past, of relevance only to historians.

However, in recent years we have seen a revival of nationalism across Europe. To some, this is a dangerous and worrying turn of events. It can be seen as directly linked to the major economic crisis that Europe has faced in recent years and also to rising concerns about immigration and a growing dislike of the political establishment. The recent success of nationalist parties in Europe, for example in this year’s European elections, can also be seen as a reaction against globalisation and the supranationalist ideas of the EU. Robert Skidelsky suggests that the return of nationalism was also inevitable as ‘practically all of Europe’s existing national states contain geographically concentrated ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities’.

In many countries this revival has led to a backward-looking conservative form of nationalism that rejects diversity and can lead to xenophobia and intolerance. However, there are also more forward-looking forms of civic nationalism in Europe today, such as Scottish and Catalan nationalism. Some nationalists, such as the Scottish National Party (SNP), see the EU as a way to protect them and help them in their fight for independence. Others, such as the UK Independence Party (UKIP), are directly opposed to the EU and campaign for its destruction. This article will examine four important case studies. There are very different types of nationalism at play here.

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