Europe, Spain, Politics

Catalonia and Spain: A Century of Rejection

The conflict between Spain and Catalonia dates back to 1922 when the Estat Catalá (first Catalan separatist party) sought official separation through insurrectionary routes. This first attempt failed but led to Francesc Maciá (independence leader) for several countries seeking support.

Francesc Maciá arrived in Havana in 1928, where he presided over the Constituent Assembly of Catalan Separatism. In that meeting, the Provisional Constitution of the Catalan Republic was approved, but the Republic was not founded until two years later… and lasted three days.

The official foundation of the Catalan Republic alarmed the Spanish Republic, so they sought to negotiate with Maciá, who had been appointed as the Catalan president. The result was to change the name to Generalitat de Catalunya and turn it into an autonomous government within the Spanish Republic.

So What’s the Catalonia Crisis?

Catalonia, in its form of state, culture, and history, has never felt part of Spain. They allude to referential facts, such as having their own language and traditions. In fact, Catalonia has declared on numerous occasions that it has been oppressed by Spain since 1700 when they invaded and prohibited Catalan as a language to establish Castilian instead.

Why does Catalonia want independence? It’s mainly an ideological issue. They want to recover their Catalan culture because they feel that it was underestimated. The second important reason for separating from Spain is economic, Catalonia has a GDP of 250,000,000 dollars. Basically, Catalonia gives more to Spain than Spain gives to Catalonia.

Currently, Catalonia has a very large fiscal deficit with the Spanish State because of the principle of solidarity, where the richest Spanish communities (such as Catalonia and Madrid) must contribute part of their taxes to the financing of the poorest communities. This means that Catalans are paying double taxes despite producing more money than any other state.

Did Catalonia Achieve Independence?

Kind… of? Catalonia was an autonomous state, but dependent on Spain. However, in recent months, the Catalan independence movement has gained a lot of force.

Carles Puigdemont, president of the Generalitat, convened a consultative referendum in October 2017. The Spanish State said that it was completely illegal, as it violated the Constitution of 1978 (which explains that the referendum should include the entire Spanish community and not only Catalonia), so the police immediately proceeded to close the polling stations, leaving many wounded and the region in an ironclad repression.

With the electoral centers that could receive votes, Puigdemont declared a change from Generalitat to Independent Republic. The Spanish Government immediately dissolved the Parliament of Catalonia, dismissed Puigdemont, and declared the independence null. They then called for parliamentary elections in December to restore order.

The results were just as confusing as the entire independence situation. Ciudadanos, the party without any control of mayorships but representing the 4th most voted political force in Spain, obtained more than one million votes and 37 seats; Ciudadanos is in favor of remaining a part of the Spanish State.

Results of the Catalan Election

Catalonia, being a territory with just over 7 million inhabitants, obtaining a million votes in these elections would give Ciudadanos a wide possibility to govern, however, the other three independence parties, despite not having obtained more votes than Ciudadanos, obtained more seats, which adjudicates them as new parliamentarians.

In these last elections, 80% of the Catalan population participated, but the result is not clear. Do they want to be truly independent? If we take account of (leaving aside the regulations for parliamentary elections) one million votes for Ciudadanos and the other million distributed among non-independentist parties, I would say no.

The pro-independence parties managed to be close to those two million votes (47%), only winning the elections by voting rules. Meanwhile, the main instigator of the modern independence movement, Carles Puigdemont, is wanted by the Spanish State under charges of embezzlement and breach of the Spanish Constitution.

The future of Catalonia is blurred, the truth is that both parties need to reach an agreement, since the reasons for separation are of vital importance for the population. After all, ideology and nationalism are not erased with repression or abuses, on the contrary, it strengthens them.

About Daniela D. Franco

Daniela is a Social Psychologist from Venezuela, she is interested in the changes technology and the development of social networks generate into human interactions, and is currently studying Digital Marketing. She enjoys reading, writing and biking while David Bowie is playing in her iPod.

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