Territorial Politics and the Emergence of Sub-National Welfare Models in Italy, Spain and Great Britain: Regionalist Mobilization, Institutional Asymmetries and Left-Wing Partisanship

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: F203
Distributed Paper
Davide VAMPA , Social and Political Science, European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy
This paper investigates the relationship between sub-national politics and the emergence of region-specific models of welfare governance in Italy, Spain and Great Britain. Data on spending, legislation and implementation of social policies in all the regions of these countries have been collected and analyzed. The main finding is that in all three countries territorial mobilization – through the creation of regionalist parties – has been an important factor in the development of well-structured and distinctive welfare models at the sub-national level. In countries with relatively flexible constitutional arrangements (Spain and, especially, Great Britain), regionalist parties have promoted distinctive models of welfare governance by engaging in bilateral bargaining with central authorities and obtaining special formal powers for the regions they represent. In the absence of constitutional flexibility (the Italian case), the intervening effect of formal institutional asymmetry is less relevant and what really matters is the fact that regionalist parties have used standard self-governing authority in distinctive and ‘creative’ ways. In this paper I also consider the ‘welfare effect’ of left-wing mobilization and I show that its importance varies depending on the role that mainstream centre-left parties play in national policy making and on their relationship with regionalist movements. In Italy the Left has been excluded from central government for many decades and has therefore acted as a ‘regionally-focused’ political force, which, despite not representing regional minorities, has used the regional arena to promote distinctive social policies. On the contrary, in Spain, the main party of the Left, the PSOE, has been a dominant force in central government and has therefore mainly focused on the promotion of state-wide, standardized social policies. In Great Britain, left-wing mobilization and ‘sub-state nationalism’ have been closely linked in recent decades, thus having a combined effect on welfare development in Scotland and Wales.