Sardinian nationalism is a social, cultural and political movement in Sardinia promoting the protection of the island's environment and the re-discovery of Sardinian culture. It also calls for more autonomy, or even independence, from Italy, generally perceived by Sardists as a colonial power.
The Sardinian movement has its origins on the left of the political spectrum, as attempts for Sardinian self-determination countered Rome-centric Italian nationalism and fascism. Over the years Sardist parties from different ideological backgrounds have emerged. The first two Sardist parties, the Sardinian Action Party (PSd'Az) and the Sardinian League (LS), were launched between the two world wars. The PSd'Az, which was pretty strong in the 1920s (e.g. 36% of the popular vote in 1921 regional election) as well as in the 1940s (e.g. 14.9% in the 1946 general election), establishing itself as the most important nationalist movement in Sardinia, experienced a comeback in the 1980s. In the 1984 regional election the party peaked at over 20% of the vote in the two major cities and gained overall 13.8%: therefore, due to its pivotal role in the newly elected Regional Council, Sardist Mario Melis was President of Sardinia from 1984 to 1989. Ever since, that result has not been repeated yet by any nationalist party.
The Sardinian nationalist movement is rather disjointed and lacking in unity nowadays. It is composed mostly of several local grassroots organisations across the island that do not have a clear central policy-making authority, and besides, the different nationalist subgroups often disagree with each other on many issues.
Sardinian nationalism is a pacific movement that does not advocate violent revolution, proposing instead to achieve its goals within a democratic framework. However, as an exception to the rule, there had been some issues in the past strictly related to separatist tendencies, the most worth mentioning being essentially three. First, the actions planned in 1968 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli to turn the island into the Cuba of the Mediterranean and "liberate it from colonialism" by making contact with several local nationalist groups; in the end, the attempt of the famous communist thinker to strengthen the pro-independence militant lines, divided into the socialist Fronte Nazionale de Liberazione de sa Sardigna (FNLS) and the rightist Movimentu Nazionalista Sardu (MNS), was nullified by the Italian secret military intelligence. Secondly, there had been in the 1980s the question of the so called "separatist conspiracy", a secret plan apparently set up by some local activists to reach the island's independence in collaboration with Libya. Finally, it should also be mentioned the case of a number of bombings, the most notable of which being that in 2004 against Silvio Berlusconi in his visit to Porto Rotondo (Olbia) with Tony Blair; the responsibility has been apparently claimed by some unknown separatist militant groups, the presence of which never to be seen again.
According to a poll commissioned by the University of Cagliari in collaboration with that of Edinburgh, 40% of Sardinians would be in favour of independence, whilst another 48% would rather have a larger autonomy within Italy; only 12% of people would be content to remain part of Italy without any "sovereignty" status. These numerical data have been exposed by Carlo Pala, a professor of political science at the University of Sassari. Even other polls, published by professional organizations for public opinion research, contribute to corroborating, more or less, the same numbers. However, electoral support has always been much smaller; besides, the nationalist movement still suffers from being highly fragmented into a large number of political parties which, overall, manage to play only a marginal role in Sardinian politics. As an additional reason to explain this contradictory electoral behaviour in Sardinia, among the other things, it should be noted that even the Italian parties have incorporated some nationalist elements in their political discourses, thus assuming somewhat of a regionalist facade.
In the 2014 regional election, for instance, more than a dozen Sardist parties of different connotations took part to the electoral competition, but yet again, because of their number and political fragmentation, they did not manage to win as many seats as they were initially supposed to, especially because of a tactical mistake by Project Republic of Sardinia. Despite the combined result of all of them being around 26% (not including the Sardinian Reformers and other selected lists, which are not fully Sardist or even autonomist), they won only eight seats in the Sardinian regional council.
Here is a summary of the results of the 2014 regional election for regional parties:
- Sardinian Reformers, 6.0% of the vote and 3 regional councillors elected
- Sardinian Action Party, 4.7% of the vote and 2 regional councillors elected
- United, 2.8% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
- Project Republic of Sardinia, 2.8% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
- Party of Sardinians, 2.7% of the vote and 2 regional councillors elected
- Red Moors, 2.6% of the vote and 2 regional councillors elected
- Sardinian Democratic Union, 2.6% of the vote and 1 regional councillor elected
- People (ProgReS-sponsored list), 2.2% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
- Communities (ProgReS-sponsored list), 1.8% of the vote and no regional councillors
- Pili President (United-sponsored list), 1.7% of the vote and no regional councillors
- Sardinia Free Zone Movement, 1.6% of the vote and 1 regional councillor elected
- Independence Republic of Sardinia, 0.8% of the vote and 1 regional councillor elected
- The Base Sardinia, 0.7% of the vote and 1 regional councillor elected
- Free Zone Movement, 0.7% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
- Forward Together, 0.7% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
- United Independentist Front, 0.7% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
- Sovereignty (United-sponsored list), 0.2% of the vote and no regional councillors elected
The list does not include the Christian Popular Union (1.7% of the vote and 1 regional councillor elected) because the party, despite being based in Sardinia and having rarely participated in general or regional elections outside Sardinia, pretends to be an Italian national party.
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