Foreign Policy Blogs

Will the 2020s be the Decade of Regions?

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There is little doubt that the protesters in Hong Kong have changed the world. With such a small population pushing for their freedoms against a large and wealthy Beijing government, our democratic cousins in Hong Kong have shown the world that democracy should not just be cherished, but needs to be fought for in the absence of justice and human rights. The spread of democratic protests has since reached every region of the world, and in those cases where the regions have some level of geographic autonomy, there is a push for more control and power on the local level.

The structure of the EU makes for an interesting balance of powers between nation states, but in some ways it allows for regions within countries to have added powers within the larger EU. While EU member states can put pressure on independently minded regions like Catalunya on Madrid’s behalf, it seems as if the next decade will show us that regional powers and their citizens wish to have more autonomy, more powers over decision making and feel somewhat disjointed from the nation states in which they reside. The irony of the EU is that smaller regions feel they have more power in the larger structure of the EU, even though the EU has added powers over the nation states themselves. While the Catalans have faced a backlash from other EU member states, the recent election in the UK has shown that while the British people back the PM’s direction for the country, Scotland’s national party also has gained a lot of support for remaining in the EU. Scotland will likely have another vote for separation in order to entrench their regional powers apart from the greater United Kingdom.

Separation movements are likely to catch fire in Canada as well, as their recent elections returned the separatist movement in Quebec to power regionally and Federally, making Quebec representation in the Canadian Parliament one of a regional and culture voice apart from the rest of Canada. Recent language coming from government officials have recently separated Canada and Quebec in language. This is an odd approach as not only Quebec, but now Alberta and other parts of Western Canada are also determined to get greater autonomy, if not separate altogether. Language separating Quebec and Alberta when speaking of Canada gives the impression that there is a separation in the minds of the Federal government itself. Any people of any region would not accept policies that further ignore the economy and lives in those regions, especially record levels of unemployment in Alberta where one individual has committed suicide in from of their parliament, an action that was ignored in the rest of the country. If you cannot make a living and your federal government exacerbates the problem, then why by part of that country?

Movements for added rights, pensions or union demands often take place in united nation states like France where the likelihood of a region being divided is slim. Local government can often be a solution, as being ignored from the top, especially in larger federated states leaves the entire region feeling as those groups fighting for their rights on the streets of France, Santiago de Chile, Baghdad, and the dozens of other protesters worldwide demanding to be heard locally. For the local government to take charge is an option for some, even if it might not resolve the general policy matter demanding attention by protesters on the streets.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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