Meanwhile, in Catalonia…

“Everyone knows the Catalans want independence; they just don’t like to talk about it”. I had the great fortune to visit Catalonia on average every other year from 1992 to 2008, in almost every mode – business, conference, leisure, staying with a family. That sentence summed up the mood with regard to its constitutional position. However, since 2008, the changes have apparently been dramatic – I am always cautious about judging such things from afar.

Where once the impression I got was that most people there sought a federal state, or simply fiscal autonomy (as the Basques enjoy under age-old Charters), the polls and even the street demonstrations now point plainly to a desire for outright independence. My understanding is that this sentiment increased markedly upon the new centre-right Spanish Government’s insistence in 2010 on striking down aspects of the new Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia, agreed in 2006. Specifically, it sought to strike down aspects of it which were the same as neighbouring Valencia, but did not seek to do so in Valencia’s case. Catalans were outraged – and fully a third of them turned out at a single demonstration to show it.

That’s where it appears to get tricky, however. “Independence” isn’t a straightforward thing. How do you secure your markets in the rest of Spain? How do you fund, recruit and train your new diplomatic corps? How, even, do you ensure FC Barcelona can continue to play in La Liga? It is all very well to have your own national, linguistic and sporting identity – but what about the practical stuff?

The parallels are obvious. Why is nobody thinking?!


3 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in Catalonia…

  1. chris roche says:

    Why isn’t anyone in (Catalonia) THINKING? Perhaps the Catalans aren’t blessed with intellectuals like Willie Frazer, Jamie Bryson, and Ruth Patterson.

  2. I haven’t been as fortunate as you in your more frequent visits to Catalonia, but I have a favourable impression of the place.

    An essential dimension is whether one believes Spain shall be a state of one nationality or several. The mono-nationalists can’t stand giving anything other than a singular Spanish nationalism any time or respect. The plural-nationalists vary from recognising Spanish sovereignty, to wanting independence:

    In my sporadic efforts to keep abreast of Catalonia Regional President, Artur Mas, positioning, he has presented himself as a Spanish sovereigntist, while insisting on the full implementation of the agreements in the 1974 Constitution.

    As you state, the Spanish Government’s revoking of agreements is driving the Catalonian population clambering for outright independence. And I suspect Artur Mas will get pulled off the sovereigntist fence.

    Indeed, here is a Euronews interview with Mr Mas that I saw today:

  3. The Listner says:

    Thinking, Thinking! When did human beings really think logically, in unison?

    With regard to Scotland, it is all Brave Heart” a time when the Scots wared against eachother. Doubtless Catalonia has its forgotten past. The masses do not think if cost, as after all, they believe they will not be paying personally. What is a Diplomatic Corps, do we need one, some may think! Likewiser about trade and overall finances, do the Yes Campaign in Scotland think about it? They, at least they have the Republic of Ireland not far away, and although they have had good times, for some, Now followed by a viscious financial downdraft. Some here and no doubt in Scotland complain about their NHS, however compare it with what can be provided on a linited economy in the Republic. Doubtless there will be parallells with greater Spain and what can be provided by an independant Catalonia.

    I do admit, harking back to the Spanish Civil War, when Catalonia was the bed rock of the Socialist Dream, trampled by Franco, who went on to rule a quasi- fasciast state, there must still be culteral hatreds under the surface, despite a changed democratic Spain.

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