Under what conditions are quests for secession successful? Current debates in Scandinavia on the appropriate size of municipalities are taken as a point of departure for answering this question. I set out to analyse what processes are triggered through mergers of small political units into larger ones. The Swedish experience is analysed as an empirical illustration. A game-theoretical model is constructed, in which I highlight questions of ideology, power and strategy when analysing secessions. I conclude that mergers, such as those in Sweden between 1952 and 1974, create a built-in conflict in the larger unit. Certain geographical parts of the political unit get the worst of it in a conflict concerning resources, which will create tension based on geographical location. If these conflicts are not solved, questions of secession will inevitably be raised. In the Swedish context the law is phrased in such a way that the government decides whether or not secession will be allowed. The game-theoretical model therefore suggests that campaigns for secession will be successful if the seceding part (SP) (a) meets the required physical criteria (which concern size and financial predisposition), (b) the quest for secession enjoys strong public support and (c) the party in government takes a benevolent view of municipality separations.
Erlingsson, G. Ó. (2005). ”Modelling Secessions from Municipalities”. Scandinavian Political Studies, 28(2): 141-159.