Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between the economic turmoil generated by the Great Recession and the increase of secessionism in different regions of Western countries. Some authors have stressed that the Great Recession triggered profound changes in political attitudes and preferences and, in the context of a conflict between the centre and the periphery, fuelled secessionism as a radical shift of the institutional setup. Nevertheless, other researchers have remarked that a deep recession may make voters more accommodating with the status quo and more reluctant to take radical stances. Our paper aims at contributing to this debate by analyzing the case of Catalonia. We use the variation of economic variables and data from surveys and electoral outcomes at the level of municipalities to explore the relationship between the deterioration of the economic situation (that is, the local variation in the intensity of the crisis) and the increase of preferences for secession among the Catalan population. The findings from the analysis of our empirical models do not support the hypothesis that the heterogeneous effects of the Great Recession had any significant impact on political preferences at the level of municipality in Catalonia. These findings contribute to our understanding of the effects of hard economic times on people’s attitudes and behaviour.