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How Party Europeanization Changes Minority–Kin-state Relations

Patrick Utz

This paper investigates how kin-minority parties respond to the opportunities and constraints created by European integration. Kin-minority parties are defined (1) by their claim to defend the interests of a particular national minority within a certain country, and (2) by their perception that the minority they claim to speak for is part of a larger nation that constitutes the majority in a neighbouring kin-state. Kin-minority parties thus operate within a triangular relationship in which the minority and the two states in question interact with each other in complex ways. I explore how the impact of European integration has modified each dimension of this “triadic nexus”, and how kin-minority parties exploit these changes. I expect that the “softening” of borders and the narrative of a “Europe of the Regions” in the early 1990s led kin-minority parties’ to adopt accommodative strategies within their host-states, such as autonomy or devolution; whereas prospects of “hardening” borders following reaction to mass migration and Brexit are expected to reignite demands for border shifts. I empirically assess kin-minority parties’ responses to European integration by analysing party positions in Northern Ireland and South Tyrol during several critical junctures from 1970 to present.

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