Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Spain: Policy, Law, and Regional Autonomy in Europe


In 2022, countries and territories across Europe experienced a sharp increase in the number of people seeking asylum, mainly due to the war in Ukraine. Over 3,5000 Ukrainians have sought refuge in the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC) and as of July 2022, over 7,000 Ukrainians have sought refuge in Scotland (“3.587 refugiados de Ucrania”, 2022 and The Scottish Government, 2022). This increase is on top of the over 250,000 foreigners living in the BAC and the thousands of refugees already resettled throughout Scotland (Ikuspegi, Observatorio Vasco de Inmigración, 2022 and “Refugee resettlement”, 2022). Given the large number of refugees and asylum seekers coming into Europe, I chose to explore nationalist-led governments’ social policies towards the refugee and asylum-seeker population. Overall, nationalist parties are viewed as accepting refugees and asylum seekers, and I used case study methods to analyze the social policies of two such nationalist-led governments. Scotland and the BAC both have a history of being ruled by nationalist parties, Scottish National Party (SNP) and Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) respectively and have significant control over their own social policies. This paper compares the refugee and asylum-seeker social aid policies regarding the relationship with civil society, housing, adult language instruction, and legal aid that are supported by nationalist parties and passed by these parties while in power in the BAC and Scotland. Through the analysis of government documents and election manifestos and interviews with those familiar with this topic. I concluded that both parties could do more to support refugees and asylum seekers, though I believe these nationalist governments are developing “good” policy towards refugees and asylum seekers that could serve as an example for other governments. This paper ends with policy suggestions for these parties and suggestions for future research.


Basque Studies | European Languages and Societies | International Relations | Migration Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Public Policy


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