Friday, December 01, 2006

The Partition of Europe?

In the French concours (national competitive exam) to become a teacher of English, one of the new topics on the syllabus is "Devolution in Wales and Scotland". Most of you may not know what "devolution" means in this case - it is simply a "transfer of power or authority from a central government to a local government" (Dictionary.com). Both Wales and Scotland have had a system of limited self-government (adopted after Scottish and Welsh referendums) since 1997.

But this does not seem to be enough (fiscal policy was never devolved) and there is still continuous pressure for more autonomy and even independence in Scotland and public opinion seems quite in favor of it.

Independence is backed by 52% of Scots while an astonishing 59% of English voters want Scotland to go it alone. (Telegraph)

As you can also read in this very interesting column by simon Jenkins in The Guardian, this is in line with other autonomous or independent movements across the European Union. Already, a dozen of European countries have given partial autonomy to some of their regions. Strangely the very fact that this is a massive phenomenon seems to be largely ignored by the media and the politicians.

So is this the sign of rising nationalisms? Or is it simply a sign of a rejection of "elephantine and unresponsive governments" (as Jenkins calls it) to local problems? In other words, is this going dangerously towards disintegration or is it a call for more transparent democracy?

If you choose the negative view, you may think of the Balkans of course, but you may see it going more towards an American Federal system which is based on local democracy.

So is there a demand from the people to be heard at a local level? That may very well be.This theme has been hinted at by both the right and the left in France as they seem in their own different ways to question the French idea of a strong central government, and that is definitely
a break from the traditional view of the Republican ideal.

I find this fascinating in the long run which is why I really like the idea of the following map of what Europe would like like if all the regions that claim some form of autonomy were given independence. (Source: Eurotrib). However artificial and unrealistic it may be, I find it fun to take a look at. And by the way, as you can see, the largest country on the continent would then be France.


1 Comments:

At 11:37, Anonymous Abie said...

Vous avez oublié la Catalogne et le Pays Basque français ainsi que... la Savoie ! :-p

Ceci dit, très intéressant.

 

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