What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Political Innovation in the Age of Devolution? Comparing 'Smartness' in Scotland, Catalonia and the Basque Country
Posted: 2 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 1, 2015
Nation-states are facing constant re-scaling and devolution demands from the strongest city-regional economies, whereas welfare policies are weakening due to the austerity policy implemented by national governments. However, nation-states, as international actors, depict difficulties to cope with this uncertain equilibrium between self-determination demands from the nationalists and a clear contestation to the political economic severe austerity policy. It is in this context where pervasive but disruptive political innovations could be taking place in some city-regional small nations, even beyond their nation-states.
Generally speaking, the nature of the nation-states has been understood so far as a static and presumably homogeneous entity, which requires an updated ‘smart’ comprehensive agenda of power relationships, shared sovereignty and policy implementation between nation-states and city-regional small nations. Such ‘smartness’ now involves being able to proceed with devolution between the two counterparts that play in the international arena. As a general trend, devolution is being increasingly included in the EU multilevel policy agenda, or at least, in the political debate of many member states, such as the UK, Spain, and Germany, among others. Nevertheless, there are remarkable differences not only in the way nation-states assume this current geopolitical trend, but also the strategies of city-regions aiming for more autonomy, devolution and independence. These are the cases of the UK and Spain, and also Scotland, Catalonia and the Basque Country.
This paper aims to explore two aspects: 1) the notion of what we mean when we talk about the Age of Devolution in the European context and 2) the evidence-based facts of the Political Innovation in selected cases of smart city-regional governance.
Therefore, this paper will present a comparative analysis of the Political Innovation ‘smartness’ in the three city-regional small nations of Scotland, Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Keywords: city-region, nation-states, devolution, political innovation, scotland, catalonia, basque country, smartness
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