History and Government Faculty Presentations

The Great Race to Independence: Stronger Secessionist Agitation in Quebec, Scotland, Flanders, and Catlonia

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Event Date



Midwest Political Science Association Conference


Chicago, IL


There has not been a case of secession in the developed world since the Irish Free State became independent of the United Kingdom (UK) in 1921. The idea of independence has almost always been met with hostility and institutional blockages. However, in the early twenty-first century, four cases of secessionist regions have gained greater popularity amongst their respective electorates and are pressing for their elusive goal of independence, or at the very least some form of sovereignty. These four cases, which are all found in advanced democracies, include: Quebec, Scotland, Flanders, and Catalonia. All of these cases provide prescient examples of increased secessionist agitation. This paper examines how independentist political parties are increasing their agitation against the central state in an attempt to attract more voters to their cause and to find a way to erode institutional blocks against their independence. In fact, some of the leaders of these movements have started to “race” one another to independence. This great race, in many ways, is being conducted to change the negative connotations surrounding independence in the developed world and to find mutual support for each of their respective causes.


Secession, independence, Quebec, Scotland, Flanders, Catlonia