Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Tamas Dudlak (Corvinus University of Budapest)
The New Norm of Juridification: Politics, the Courts and Prospects for Self-Determination: Nadia Verrelli (Laurentian University), Neil Cruickshank (North Island College) Abstract: Referendums cut both ways. While they offer secessionists an opportunity to initialise independence and state dissolution, they also give national-states a chance to usurp secessionist discourse, undermine independence rhetoric and, as we are seeing, appropriate the referendum process itself. Realising this and appreciating the consequences of state dissolution, lawmakers are attempting to make the process above reproach, by involving national/federal courts and introducing corresponding legalese, legal reasoning and juridical argumentation. Secession has thus become juridified, de-politicised and reconstituted as a matter for the ‘courts.’ This attempt to ‘clear-up’ or normalise secessionism, to make it a matter-of-fact part of a country’s constitutional order, is most prominent in established democracies, like Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain. Canada’s Clarity Act, the Edinburgh Agreement and the various rulings and statements made by Spain’s high court, are examples of national governments using existing legal institutions and norms to undermine independence movements. The reality is national states have managed to reframe secessionist discourse to the point discussion now revolves around notions or ideas of unilateral withdrawal and clarity (or ambiguity), rather than the more palatable ideas of ‘negotiated’ secession, ‘brokered’ withdrawal or ‘pacted’ settlement.
Utilising a constructivist framework, this paper aims to consider the causes and consequences of the historical and ongoing juridification of secessionism, referendums and processes associated with state dissolution. This paper will consider several concrete cases in the hope of realising a more robust understanding of how (and why) lawmakers are utilising the spectre of law to complicate independence discourse and movements for self-determination, and the application of referendums to facilitate secession.
In Search for Popularity - Ideological Transformations of the Kurdish Movements in Iraq, Syria and Turkey: Tamas Dudlak (Corvinus University of Budapest) Abstract: This presentation intends to analyse and compare the role of different ideas and narratives in shaping the discourse of sovereignty of Kurdish political movements in three different contexts: Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In the last two decades, these three countries saw the emergence of several Kurdish actors that managed to become the main representative of the Kurds in their respective countries (the KDP in Iraq, the PYD in Syria and the PKK in Turkey). My focus is on the development of political ideology and the outward and inward communication of these actors with special emphasis on the reformulation of the political discourse partly shaped by “Western” influence and knowledge.
My aim is to understand the process during which Kurdish people of diverse backgrounds tried to accommodate themselves ideologically to the challenges of the new political reality in Middle East after 2003 and created a common set of knowledge with the aim of enforcing their interests in the international arena. Beyond the different contexts in which these transformations have been taking place, the interconnected nature of these cases cannot be neglected, that is apparent in the fight for a transnational narrative space among the largest stakeholders of the pan-Kurdish nationalism aiming to create independent Kurdish states. The success of these Kurdish entities lies in their dual achievement of building legitimation across social classes at home and gaining support from the West using various means in their political communication.
Catalan Independence and Issue Framing: Andrea Wagner (MacEwan University) Abstract: The framing of issues in the mass media has a crucial impact on public perception. This paper examines the domestic and international rhetoric framing the Catalan independence movement relying on elite interviews carried out in Spain as well as political claim analysis of the international and national news media, covering a critical two-year time period from 2017 to 2018. The paper assumes that the way in which problems will be perceived by the Spanish citizen is mediated by the particular framing selected by political actors seeking (or maintaining) power. According to Entman (1993: 52), “to frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.” Consequently, framing and problem definition becomes the pivotal intervening variable between perceptions of certain conditions and the translation of this understanding into political discontent. The discursive character of the above-mentioned rhetoric makes it imperative to study the phenomenon with discourse analytical tools. The paper will examine individual statements in political discourse that directly address Catalonia's bid for independence. The focus of the project is the analysis of claims made by politicians (domestic and international), journalists, interest group representatives, academic commentators and civil society in order to understand if the independence was primarily an elite-driven/ politically motivated strategy or a response to citizens’ demands.