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.
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 or PSd'Az (one of the oldest stateless nationalist parties in Europe) 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 30% in Cagliari and over 20% in Sassari and Oristano, gaining overall 13.8% of the vote: 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 and scattered 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 nationalists address a number of issues, such as the environmental damage caused by the Italian, NATO and U.S. military forces (in fact, 60% of such bases in Italy are located on the island), the financial and economic exploitation of the island's resources by the Italian state and mainland industrialists, the lack of any political representation both in Italy and in the European Parliament, and the ongoing process of depopulation and Italianization that would destroy the Sardinian indigenous culture.
Sardinian nationalism is a pacific movement that does not advocate violent revolution, proposing instead to achieve its goals within a liberal 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 Gaddafi's Libya; according to some reconstructions of the facts, the supposed Sardinian separatist conspiracy might have been a machination of the Italian secret services seeking to discredit the rising nationalist wave in the island. There were also separatist militant groups, like the Movimento Armato Sardo (Sardinian Armed Movement), claiming assassinations and several kidnappings. Finally, it should 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 anarcho-separatist militant groups, the presence of which never to be seen again.
In the '70s, around 38% of the Sardinian population expressed a favourable view on independence. According to a 2012 survey conducted in a joint effort between the University of Cagliari and that of Edinburgh, 41% of Sardinians would be in favour of independence, whilst another 46% would rather have a larger autonomy within Italy; only 13% of people would be content to remain part of Italy without any "sovereignty" status. Besides, the same survey reported that a growing number of younger Sardinians (26% of the population) are actively rejecting an Italian identity in favour of being just Sardinian, while 37% of Sardinians would identify first as Sardinian; 31% would class themselves as both Sardinian and Italian, while 5% said they consider themselves more Italian than Sardinian and 1% Italian only. 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, these findings and their accuracy.
However, this support has heretofore failed to translate into electoral success for pro-sovereignty Sardinian forces. In fact, the nationalist movement has a well-documented history of ideological factionalism: all attempts to unify the nationalist subgroups have so far failed; thus, the Sardist movement still suffers from being highly fragmented into a large number of political subgroups, with not a single one managing to emerge as a serious competitor to the statewide parties. As an additional reason to explain this contradictory electoral behaviour in Sardinia, among the other things, it should be noted that, unlike Veneto, even the local branches of statewide parties have incorporated some Sardist elements in their political discourses, thus assuming somewhat of a regionalist facade and undermining the distinctive nationalist demands: the nationalist parties have disjointedly responded to this long-term strategy by either refusing to join forces with themselves and engage in any alliances with the mainstream Italian ones, or trying to work with them as coalition partners, in the hopes of applying further pressure from within to favour increased devolution; either choice has been met with diffidence by the Sardinian electorate, leading the various Sardist parties to play a marginal role in Sardinian politics. All the Sardist parties put together usually win around 15-20% of the vote in regional elections.
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, some think even because of a tactical mistake by the ProgReS-sponsored list, which was then led by the novelist Michela Murgia. Despite the combined result of all of the nationalist parties being around 26% (dropping to 18% for the pro-independence forces), 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, claims to be an Italian national party.
- Sardinian people
- Politics of Sardinia
- Communist Party of Sardinia
- Republic of Mal di Ventre
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