My Testimony on National Self-Determination Movements to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats

On March 15, I had the opportunity to testify at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, chaired by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, on the topic of whether the U.S. government should change its policy toward national self-determination movements. I'm posting here my written testimony (my oral testimony had to … Continue reading My Testimony on National Self-Determination Movements to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats

Why Has Catalonia’s Independence Movement Lost Steam?

I don't blog much here anymore, in part because I've been too busy with Ethics & Economics Education, and in part because I find it easier to share quick thoughts on Twitter. Here's a little tweetstorm I had recently on Catalonia's independence vote next month: We might get crossover between Podemos & Ciudadanos soon. https://t.co/uiRhOp02gL— … Continue reading Why Has Catalonia’s Independence Movement Lost Steam?

Dispatch from Catalonia

Last week I was in Barcelona for two days, giving a talk at an event on "the right to decide," sponsored by the Centre Maurits Coppieters (nonprofit arm of the European Free Alliance, the European Parliament group for ideologically mainstream minority nationalist parties) and by the Fundació Josep Irla (nonprofit arm of the Catalan Republican … Continue reading Dispatch from Catalonia

Will the U.S. Ever See a Strong Secession Movement?

Ten days ago, the Washington Post published an op-ed of mine on whether the United States will ever see a strong secession movement like that in Scotland. I took the "yes" position and also took the opportunity to boost the Free State Project, while also making clear that it does not support secession. While it's … Continue reading Will the U.S. Ever See a Strong Secession Movement?

Don’t Lay Down Your Arms, Aceh Edition

As part of a new paper, I've been doing research on decentralization in Aceh, Indonesia. Bringing to a conclusion an approximately 20-year insurgency, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesian government came together in a spirit of comity following the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami and signed a peace deal giving the region ample new autonomy. … Continue reading Don’t Lay Down Your Arms, Aceh Edition

Why So Little Decentralization? Part Two: Secession Prevention

Having finally turned the corner on a brutal, 11-day (and counting) cold, I feel up to getting back to my blogging routine. First up: a followup to last month's post, "Why So Little Decentralization?" To review, that post posed a puzzle (a problem for political scientists to ponder, you might say). The puzzle is this: … Continue reading Why So Little Decentralization? Part Two: Secession Prevention

Veneto: The Next Catalonia? (update)

Public opinion has moved very quickly there against Italy: Veneto - IPR poll: 63% against secession from Italy 28% in favour 8% in favour as part of broader Northern #Italy (“Padania”)— electionista (@electionista) April 4, 2014 UPDATE: I misread the poll. These numbers are consistent with what we have seen in the past: a solid majority against independence. … Continue reading Veneto: The Next Catalonia? (update)

The Five Biggest Myths About Secession

With the ongoing tension over Russia's annexation of Crimea, now would be a good time to talk about the biggest myths people believe about the origins of secessionist movements around the world (even though Crimea is a case of irredentism not secessionism). Myth: Secession is contagious. Back in the 1990s, journalists worried a lot that … Continue reading The Five Biggest Myths About Secession

“Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”

That's the title of a very good article by Princeton political scientist Carles Boix and J.C. Major. The article provides background to the Catalan self-determination movement but also discusses recent developments and the reasons for them. One takeaway is the enormous role that the Spanish government's response to the last Catalan autonomy statute, essentially gutting … Continue reading “Catalonia’s March Toward Self-Determination”

Persuading the Scots

The Government of Scotland has just released its 600-odd-page white paper on independence in advance of the September 18, 2014 referendum on the question. First Minister Alex Salmond and the rest of the pro-independence side have their work cut out, with the latest poll showing a 47-38% plurality in favor of "No." In part, the … Continue reading Persuading the Scots

For a Right of Unilateral Secession: Part One

In this three-part series of posts, I will be blogging my new SSRN working paper, "Designing a Constitutional Right of Secession: Applying Normative Principles and Empirical Findings." The paper defends a right of unilateral secession for any country in which the possibility of secessionist violence is non-negligible, or where central governments are already unwilling to … Continue reading For a Right of Unilateral Secession: Part One

Reflections on Catalan Secession

1) Polls continue to point to a significant "yes" victory in a future referendum on independence in Catalonia. 2) If the Catalan government backs down from a referendum, even if the Constitutional Court declares it illegal, as it certainly will, it will pay a heavy price at the polls. Therefore, it is locked into holding … Continue reading Reflections on Catalan Secession

Catalonia Update

The Monkey Cage is carrying an interesting update on the Catalonia situation from Duke political scientist Laia Balcells. Catalonia is heading to elections, called by the premier Artur Mas, from the Convergence and Unity (CiU) party, a moderate Catalan nationalist party on the center-right. The CiU has always favored a "right to self-determination" for Catalonia, … Continue reading Catalonia Update

My Bloggingheads Conversation with Robert Farley

Robert Farley of the University of Kentucky and Lawyers, Guns, and Money had a "diavlog" with me on bloggingheads.tv. We covered Pileus, the Conor Friedersdorf essay on why he can't vote for Obama, libertarianism and foreign policy, and secessionism. This was my bloggingheads debut, and we hope to do more of these in the future. … Continue reading My Bloggingheads Conversation with Robert Farley

Could a Scottish Secession Referendum Bring About Salutary Decentralization?

For all the usual association of independence movements with violence and "separatism," the fact is that secessionist movements in liberal democracies usually pursue their aims peacefully, through the democratic process, and central governments resolve not to use military force to prevent secession authorized by a democratic vote (imagine that!). Such is the case in Scotland, … Continue reading Could a Scottish Secession Referendum Bring About Salutary Decentralization?

Secessionism

My first book, Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy, has been released by McGill-Queen's University Press. Secessionism is the first comprehensive, empirical study of the causes and consequences of contemporary secessionist movements worldwide. It also has a normative component, as I interpret from the empirical results a case for "legalizing secession" in order to reduce the … Continue reading Secessionism