More on regional political divisions, in Mexico and elsewhere


Lexington Green, one of the frequent posters at, has responded to my latest post on Mexico with these thoughts. In my post, I noted the apparently persistent regional divisions in Mexican politics and voiced what I called a suspicion that they represent something in the nature of ethnic differences. I also noted the existence of such regional differences in the United States, Britain, Italy, Spain, and Brazil. Lexington Green, who reads wisely and widely in history, notes that there are similar differences in France, Germany, and Canada as well. Point taken. He also makes the following observation:

On a related point, the Coming Anarchy blog has been talking about the extreme version of this: Regional devolution (e.g. Scotland, Northern Italy, Catalonia, Wallonia) or even independence (Montenegro). See e.g. this. Keeping a bunch of disparate regions all in one big national unit – which has certain advantages – takes some work. If, as in Europe, security functions are drifting away from the nation-state level to the Union level, then it becomes "safe" for regions to insist on some degree of autonomy.

Another observer who points to the possibility of nations coming apart is Juan Enriquez, author of The Untied States of America. It's a flawed book, or so I argued in this post, but an interesting and provocative one.

I've delved pretty deeply into election figures in Britain, Italy, Mexico, and of course the United States, and less deeply into those for Canada, Brazil, Germany, and France (I stopped being interested in France when it seemed to me that the left and right parties were pursuing almost identical policies, though maybe that moment has passed). There are a lot of fascinating things to be said about these divisions, but I'm on vacation, so I'll list just a few.

Britain Historically the Liberals carried the Celtic Fringe, the Conservatives the echt-English Home Counties. Now Labor carries almost everything from Birmingham north, and Tony Blair's New Labor won big majorities because it carried a lot of Home County and metro London seats. That may be about to change.

Italy Regions since 1948 have voted consistently for the party closest to the leading forces fighting the Nazis in the awful period of anarchy (1943-45). That means the Mezzogiorno and South voted Christian Democrat (and after 1992 for Berlusconi's center-right coalition), which was close to the United States. In the Red Belt—Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia Romagna—the leading force against the Nazis were Communist partisans. Milano, Italy's largest metro area, has been split. The Veneto in the northeast, threatened in 1948 by Tito's Yugoslavia, votes solidly right.

I think I'll stop here and perhaps add observations on other countries later.