Sardinian nationalism

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Location of Sardinia

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,[1][2] 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[3]) 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[4]) 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] Sardinian nationalists address a number of issues, such as the environmental damage caused by the Italian, NATO and U.S. military forces[8][9][10][11][12] (in fact, 60% of such bases in Italy are located on the island),[13] 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.[14]

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[15] 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;[16] 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),[17] was nullified by the Italian secret military intelligence.[18] 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;[19][20][21][22] 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.[23] There were also separatist militant groups,[24] like the Movimento Armato Sardo (Sardinian Armed Movement), claiming assassinations and several kidnappings.[25][26][27][28] Finally, it should be mentioned the case of a number of bombings,[24][29][30] the most notable of which being that in 2004 against Silvio Berlusconi in his visit to Porto Rotondo (Olbia) with Tony Blair;[31] the responsibility has been apparently claimed by some unknown anarcho-separatist militant groups,[27][32][33] the presence of which never to be seen again.[34]

In 2014, another independentist group launched a campaign, called Cantonmarittimo, in order for Sardinia to reach its independence by joining Switzerland as a Canton.[35][36][37][38]

Political support[edit]

In the '70s, around 38% of the Sardinian population expressed a favourable view on independence.[39] According to a 2012 survey conducted in a joint effort between the University of Cagliari and that of Edinburgh,[40][41][42] 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.[43][44][45][46][47] 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.[48][49] These numerical data have been exposed by Carlo Pala, a professor of political science at the University of Sassari.[50] Even other polls, published by professional organizations for public opinion research, contribute to corroborating, more or less, these findings and their accuracy.[51]

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:[6][52] 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:[4][53] 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,[54][55][56][57] they did not manage to win as many seats as they were initially supposed to, some[58] think even because of a tactical mistake by the ProgReS-sponsored list, which was then led by the novelist Michela Murgia.[59][60][61] Despite the combined result of all of the nationalist parties being around 26%[62] (dropping to 18% for the pro-independence forces), they won only eight seats in the Sardinian regional council.[54][63][64][65][66]

Here is a summary of the results of the 2014 regional election for regional parties:

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hechter (M.), The Dynamics of Secession, Acta Sociologica, vol. 35, 1992, p. 267.
  2. ^ Entrevista a Marcel Farinelli: “Córcega y Cerdeña forman un archipiélago invisible al tener sus islas nacionalismos de signo opuesto"
  3. ^ Elias (A.) et Tronconi (F.), From protest to power. Autonomist parties and the challenges of representation, Vienna, Braumüller, 2011
  4. ^ a b Hepburn, Eve. The Ideological Polarisation and Depolarisation of Sardinian Nationalism, Regional and Federal Studies Vol. 19, No.5. (2010)
  5. ^ Regional Council of Sardinia
  6. ^ a b Michela Murgia, la scrittrice si candida a guidare la Sardegna. L'eterno ritorno dell'indipendentismo sardo - L'Huffington Post
  7. ^ Scottish vote reignites Sardinia separatist parties' for independence - The Wall Street Journal
  8. ^ Sardegna, la protesta contro le servitù -
  9. ^ In chiave antimilitarista, nel quadro del tradizionale attivismo contestativo contro la presenza di strutture militari sul territorio nazionale, a fronte del tono minore che ha caratterizzato l’impegno dei comitati siciliani contro il sistema satellitare MUOS, si è rilevato un innalzamento della tensione mobilitativa in Sardegna, ove espressioni dell’antagonismo e dell’indipendentismo sardo hanno rivitalizzato la protesta contro le esercitazioni nei poligoni e nelle installazioni militari dell’Isola, reclamando la smilitarizzazione del territorio. - Relazione sulla politica dell'informazione per la sicurezza, pg.69
  10. ^ Sardegna, il 13 settembre indipendentisti a Capo Frasca contro l’occupazione militare
  11. ^ Indipendentismo sardo, questo sconosciuto - Adalgisa Marrocco
  12. ^ Italy: Sardinia Island protesters target NATO Trident Juncture exercise
  13. ^ Mattu, Katjuscia. Internal colonialism in Western Europe: the case of Sardinia
  14. ^ Sardegna: Paradiso turistico o la lenta morte di un popolo? - di Marco Oggianu - (German translation of the same article)
  15. ^ Minahan, James. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations S-Z, pg. 1664
  16. ^ Cabitza, Giuliano. Sardegna: rivolta contro la colonizzazione. Milano, Feltrinelli Editore.
  17. ^ Cultura e identitade - Sardinna, January - April 2002
  18. ^ Morto Pugliese, l' ex ufficiale del Sid che «fermò» nel '60 il latitante Mesina - Corriere della Sera
  19. ^ Italian Court convicts 16 as Sardinian separatists - The New York Times
  20. ^ Agguati, guerriglia, sequestri: ecco il complotto separatista sardo - La Repubblica
  21. ^ Separatismo sardo, condannati i capi - La Repubblica
  22. ^ Vittorfranco Pisano, The Dynamics of Subversion and Violence in Contemporary Italy, Hoover Institution Press (1987), p.143
  23. ^ Melis e il complotto separatista: "macchinazione degli 007 italiani"
  24. ^ a b Paola Sirigu, Il codice barbaricino, La Riflessione (Davide Zedda Editore), 2007, pp.225-234
  25. ^ "Sardinia, a political laboratory". GNOSIS, Italian Intelligence Magazine. 
  26. ^ Shao Chuan Leng, Coping with Crises: How Governments Deal with Emergencies, University Press of America
  27. ^ a b Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. "Sardinian Autonomy Movement" (MAS)
  28. ^ Giovanni Ricci, Sardegna Criminale, Newton Compton, 2008
  29. ^ OIr:<<la bomba era nostra>> - RaiNews24
  30. ^ Assessment for Sardinians in Italy - Minorities at Risk
  31. ^ Sardegna, blitz antiterrorismo: in manette dieci indipendentisti - La Repubblica
  32. ^ Criminologia del terrorismo anarco-insurrezionalista, Marco Boschi, pag.63
  33. ^ Bomb found near Berlusconi villa after Blair visit
  34. ^ Un magistrato in prima linea sul fronte eversione - Unione Sarda
  35. ^ In Sardinia, Secessionists Want to Leave Italy and Join... Switzerland? - The Wall Street Journal
  36. ^ Italy's separatist spirit takes new shape as Sardinians push to become Swiss - The Guardian
  37. ^ Separatisten auf Vormarsch in Europa - Arte
  38. ^ New proposal for a Swiss-Sardinian maritime Canton
  39. ^ Pintore (G.), Sardegna, regione o colonia?, Milano, Mazzotta, 1974
  40. ^ What next for independence movements in Europe? - Eve Hepburn
  41. ^ Identità e autonomia in Sardegna - FocuSardegna
  42. ^ La Sardegna che vorrebbe l’indipendenza come i catalani - La Stampa
  43. ^ Focus: La questione identitaria e indipendentista in Sardegna - University of Cagliari, Ilenia Ruggiu
  44. ^ La Sardegna vuole l'indipendenza, favorevoli quattro sardi su dieci -
  45. ^ Il 40% dei sardi è per l'indipendenza; il resto è per la la sovranità - Gianfranco Pintore
  46. ^ I giovani non si sentono più italiani - Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, 31.05.2012
  47. ^ Push in Sardinia for online vote on independence from Italy - Russia Today
  48. ^ Gianmario Demuro, Ilenia Ruggiu, Francesco Mola (2013). Identità e Autonomia in Sardegna e Scozia. Maggioli Editore. pp. 26–28. ISBN 8838782431. 
  49. ^ L'esempio della Catalogna, i sardi sono più «identitari» - L'Unione Sarda
  50. ^ Indipendentismo, secessionismo, federalismo: conversazione con Carlo Pala
  51. ^ L'indipendenza delle regioni - Demos & Pi
  52. ^ «Siamo sardi, non italiani. Adesso vogliamo la nostra indipendenza» - L'Inkiesta
  53. ^ Lluch, Jaime. Constitutionalism and the Politics of Accommodation in Multinational Democracies
  54. ^ a b Galassia sardista al 26 per cento - La Nuova Sardegna
  55. ^ La Babele del sardismo - Sardiniapost
  56. ^ Idea secessione, gli indipendentisti sardi: «Sì al referendum, ma non ora» - La Nuova Sardegna
  57. ^ Italian centre-left wins Sardinian election, Murgia's pro-sovereignty coalition left outside Council -
  58. ^ Sardegna Possibile non esiste! Le amministrative svelano il bluff (e Michela Murgia tiene tutti in ostaggio) - Vito Biolchini
  59. ^ A Fight to Steer Sardinia - New York Times
  60. ^ 2014: la Primavera Sarda? - Vilaweb
  61. ^ David Forniès (January 14, 2014). "Sardinian independence must be the final outcome of a process of building a lot of freedoms". Nationalia. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  62. ^ It should be noted that parties like "Sardinian Reformers" and "The Base Sardinia" are federalist rather than outright separatist.
  63. ^ El independentismo, fuerza al alza en Sardinia - Sortu
  64. ^ Vuit diputats sobiranistes entren per sorpresa al parlament sard - VilaWeb
  65. ^ L'independentisme sard fa un bon paper però guanya el centreesquerra - El Punt Avui
  66. ^ Tèrratrem en Sardenha - Jornalet, Gaseta Occitana d'informacions


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