Bavarians are considering leaving Germany. What is it with the European nations that their most productive citizens want to leave?
[A] new survey looks to bolster the Bavarian Party's hopes for a true Free State of Bavaria (the state's official title). A YouGov poll with Bild tabloid, published online on Sunday, showed that one-third of Bavarian respondents agreed that "my state should be independent from Germany".
Bavaria is an anomaly in Germany. Germany was historically chiefly Protestant. Bavaria was mostly Catholic. Most of Germany avoided Roman occupation. Much of Bavaria didn't and was incorporated into the Roman Empire. Germans are...well, Germanic. Bavarians have a large amount of Celtic in them.
A Bavarian is half-way between an Austrian and a human being. –Otto von Bismarck
When one thinks of Germans, one thinks of goose-stepping, orderly Prussians. When one thinks of Bavarians, one thinks of Oktoberfest and beer-swilling, pretzel-eating admirers of Hofbrau Frauleinen. A completely different world image. One should take a minute to listen (click here).
Compounding Germany's dilemma is that Bavaria is the second richest region of Germany and is an industrial powerhouse, with a well above average per capita output. Think of BMW or Audi.
The region around the state capital, which generates a third of Bavaria's total output, is home to heavyweights such as BMW and MAN, but also hundreds of smaller biotech, IT and environmental technology firms that have sprung up in the past couple of decades, as well as 550 US IT firms. Recent start-ups include Linguatec, which produces automatic translation software and dictionaries, and Greenrobot, which creates mobile apps such as Quick Search and GroovieMovie.TV.
Historically, the Bavarians are probably closer to the Austrians. Austria has been majority-Catholic like Bavaria. The Bavarians often sided with Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars, and with Austria during the Austro-Prussian Wars.
Much of Northern Germany looked down on the Bavarians.
The Bavarian will not budge before you actually walk on him. –German saying
When Bavaria was eventually absorbed into Germany, it was given particular local considerations and more autonomy than other states. Basically, the Bavarians do have a legitimate claim on a separate nationality.
[I]f you live in Germany, you soon work out that Bavaria is essentially the country's Scotland. Just like Britain's northernmost nation, it is an ancient kingdom full of breath-taking mountain landscapes that held its own for centuries, only joining a larger German state in comparatively modern times once it had become a bankrupt backwater with no other recourse.
One of the chief issues for this separatism seems to be the recent migrants. Bavaria seems to have borne the brunt of it.
What Bavaria lacks – and the separatist Basque and Catalans have – is a seaport. If a nation is going to be a manufacturing export giant, a seaport is almost a necessity. Yes, Switzerland gets by without one, but Bavaria does not have Switzerland's history. And Switzerland is a major exporter of not automobiles, but rather watches. Being landlocked may be the deal-breaker.
German courts, taking a cue from the stubborn Spanish courts, have frowned on Bavarian nationalism.
But if 2016 was year of Brexit, 2017 is unlikely to be the year of "Bayxit" (in German, Bavaria is known as Bayern). On Monday, a German court released a decision saying that the country's constitution does not allow Bavaria to break away. There will be no referendum, the court said, because states are not allowed to leave Germany.
However, the separatists have taken a cue from the Catalans.
The news was met with a message of defiance from the pro-independence Bavaria Party, which posted on Facebook that the "struggle for Bavarian independence" would be decided not by a court bu "by the will of the Bavarian people." The chairman of the party, Florian Weber, said that he expected the decision: When you want to drain the swamp, Weber reasoned, "you do not ask the frogs!"
I do not know how the Bavarians will overcome the seaport problem, though, unless they join Austria and Slovenia – which, by the way, have a lot of German genetics in their people – to get access to the Adriatic.
My first recommendation for the Bavarians would be that they hire a Catalan activist to run the independence campaign, inasmuch as Catalans tend to be peaceable at first, but be wary, since Catalans do not mind fortifying their native numbers with outsiders. If immigration is the chief complaint in Bavaria, however, they should avoid Catalan advice and go immediately for a Basque adviser – but that would bring in the added problem of where to hide the weaponry.
I do not see this Bavarian separatism going anywhere, except that it highlights just how badly the powers that be are managing Europe.