Natural Cultures: The Alpine Political Culture and Its Relationship to the Nation-State and European Integration Daniele Caramani
This chapter deals with the political culture of the Alpine region and its expression in the strategies of regionalist populist parties. This culture is described as a set of attitudes and values which overlap with the religious, rural-urban, and ethno-linguistic dimensions which emerged from the specific patterns of state formation, nation-building, and economic modernisation in this region. Three dimensions are considered: orientations, identity, and evaluation of the political system. It is shown that the Alpine culture incorporates anti-modern, religious, and traditional attitudes, by emphasising themes of nature, work ethics, and communitarian identity in the political discourse. The chapter argues that the Alpine political culture perceives itself as being under the threat of changing lifestyles, artificial identities, and processes of economic and political globalisation which lead to a defensive response. This type of political culture is particularly relevant as it may represent a crucial dimension in the emerging Europeanwide cleavage constellation, thus presenting an alternative "image" of European integration.