Europe, Spain, Opinion, Politics

Will Catalonia’s Independence Fuel Spanish Nationalism?

When we have a movement which is seeking to crack a chunk of a state apart from it’s own national identity, the national identity of the country at large will also grow; and this could be one of the largest hurdles to Catalonia’s potential statehood.

Thrust into the world’s spotlight after the region made a brave leap ever closer towards independence, CrowdH Europe looks at how the Catalan independence referendum may potentially fuel a nationalist movement in Spain, with potentially drastic consequences.

Consciència Nacional

Catalonia has a national consciousness of sorts and this is what happens when a society is under social alienation, it may not be the last we are going to see in regards to secessionary movements across the Europe, especially as the European Union puts more stress on its member states.

You could see this all across Europe. In one sense, Europe is weakened geo-politically by such secessionary movements, but at the same time they are also weakened by their own internal responses. Like we saw with the referendum that was held in Scotland 3 years ago, it had increased social alienation. The United Kingdom was held together politically but the referendum failed; meaning that proponents of wanting to leave receive more of a consciousness in and of themselves.

In some senses, unless times are good, be it economically and with a general prevailing feeling of optimism, we may start to see secessionary movements. It is not surprising that in debt-wracked, demographically challenged Spain, we see a group that already had some secessionary beliefs ten years ago, now already grown into a mass consciousness.

The Spanish response however, was not helpful. The government in Madrid deemed the referendum illegal and quite literally sent in riot police to smash up ballot boxes, attack polling places and spar with local police.

Catalonia’s Referendum

The best thing the Spanish government could’ve done, was to continue to deny recognizing the referendum results, but to allow it to go ahead nevertheless seeing it as a symbolic gesture. If the Spanish police had largely left the scene, any violence present in the situation that erupted would have been the responsibility of people that are of Catalan consciousness, as the minority of people in the region that want to remain part of Spain could have sparred with those who prefer independence. Such a hypothesis would not have involved the actual federal authority of Spain itself.

Violence in Catalonia

The Inevitability of Violence: If Spanish police had not used force against Catalan voters, would there have been confrontation between secessionists and nationalists instead?

Headaches for the European Union

If hostilities continue in the region, we might not just witness a Catalonian awakening, secessionary rhetoric or more violence in Barcelona. What we will see is a greater nationalistic consciousness in Spain; to which the European Union may suffer greatly. Spanish consciousness, be it left wing or right wing, will be directly antithetical to wanting to stay in the European Union, and this has been the case in the United Kingdom already.

Brexit has been prefaced by Scotland bidding for it’s independence and the fact that ‘traitorous’ Scots wished to remain in the European Union, which in turn has grown an English national consciousness; thus, everything works as a counterpart to something else. There is no vacuum within politics or within society. If there is greater nationalism within Catalonia regardless of it’s economic or social form, it spawns greater consciousness in the larger ‘host state’ as many people living in other regions of Spain would be terrified of losing of the most economically viable parts of the country.

In dealing with the European Union, it would be a hypocritical argument for people to make, in essentially being nationalistic, saying “No, you can’t leave”, but at the same time saying “We are also going to subjugate ourselves to a post-National authority”. That argument could be made, spurring on a ‘Spainexit’-style movement.

Catalonia and the EU

Catalan independence could make a “Spainexit” more likely, creating further headaches for the European Union.

The likelihood of Catalonia Independence?

Conversely, we could also see a growing movement within Spain in favor of Catalan secession. This could take place on two fronts; firstly, Spaniards could argue that they need stability more than they need Catalonia, in essence to avoid an armed struggle. Secondly, because of differential ideological beliefs in a fiscal sense, whether on progressive or traditional matters, people in Spain may side with Catalans on a certain political doctrine favorable to them.

Ultimately therefore, it is highly unlikely that Catalonia will secede at this time. As a consciousness grows, there may be more violence at some point, yet currently it is not clear that Catalonia is large or powerful enough to form its own state and secede unilaterally from Spain, particularly because the Spanish military by and large would side with Spain itself; essentially resulting in a second Spanish civil war.

About Stuart Chapman

Stuart is a a current affairs connoisseur, picking and scratching at some of the more obscure, ambiguous topics that currently plague the political spectrum. As well as having considerable experience in the analytical art of nitpicking at pariah states and unworkable governments, Stuart manages a UK-based politics publication, and has recently launched his own copywriting start-up firm. As an active member of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs, he takes particular attention to the socio-economic conditions within the region, and enjoys writing opinion pieces within the Asiatic sphere. Outside the world of politics, Stuart enjoys drinking copious amounts of strong black coffee, and jogging at daybreak.

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