IES Research Colloquium: Alex Rivard

November 4, 2020

12:15pm – 1:15

Alex Rivard, PhD Candidate of Political Science, University of British Columbia

Zoom Link & Registration:

A House but Not a Home: Understanding Secessionist Party Emergence and Support

Abstract – This presentation is an early version of what will be two chapters of Alex Rivard’s dissertation. He is very much looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions!

The quantitative study of secessionist parties has become increasingly popular in recent years (Massetti 2009; Massetti and Schakel 2015, 2016; Sorens 2005; to name but a few). These works range from the effects of the economy (Hierro and Queralt 2020; Massetti and Schakel 2015), political strategy via the study of party manifestos (Alonso et al. 2013; Basile 2015, 2016), and the interaction between established parties and ‘niche’ regional parties (Meguid 2008; Pogorelis et al. 2005; Zons 2015).

While the extant work is illuminating, we still know relatively little about the structures of independence-seeking party success. In fact, most of the referenced literature provides very little in terms of descriptive statistics—statistics which demonstrate the increasing success of secessionist parties across Western Europe and North America. This work is an early look at the structures of secessionist success and employs a unique database which accounts for all regional and national elections in 29 regions across Western Europe and North America. It argues that secessionist parties have been increasingly successful well into the contemporary era, that they average roughly a quarter of the regional vote and do not demonstrate signs of slowing down.

This paper also employs survival analysis via a Cox proportional hazards model to estimate the likelihood of secessionist party emergence in both subnational and national elections. It is, to our knowledge, the first such time an analysis like this has been conducted.

Ultimately, this presentation argues that secessionist parties obviously vary in strength and support but viable secessionist parties ought to no longer be considered risible ‘niche parties’ with obscure policy demands. Instead, they can, and do, yield considerable regional power.