We can only be certain that this is an extremely complex issue—which could have disastrous political and economical consequences for Catalonia, the rest of Spain and the EUby J. A. Garrido Ardila / October 5, 2017 / Leave a comment
Catalonia’s struggle for independence has a long and fraught history. In 1922, Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset argued that the sudden development of the Catalan separatist movement was a consequence of Spain’s traumatic loss of the last overseas colonies in 1898. So strongly did separatist feelings grow that in 1934, during Spain’s II Republic, the President of Catalonia declared independence. The central government responded swiftly, and the Catalonian premier was tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison. During the Civil War, he escaped to France, but was deported, tried, sentenced to death and executed in 1940.
Over 70 years later, the origins of this year’s Catalonian referendum can be traced to 2006, when the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (known as Estatut) was passed providing a revised jurisprudential framework for the self-government of Catalonia as one of the seventeen self-governed regions in Spain. Some sections of the Estatut were appealed to the Constitutional Court by, among others, the conservative Partido Popular, on the grounds that they contravened the Constitution in matters such as the used of the term ‘nation’ and the limits of self-government. In 2010 the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of some of those appeals, causing a sense of disillusionment among Catalan separatists. The global economic crisis soon changed the political landscape in Spain, and the Catalonian independence movement throve.
Since then, each election has brought new battles. Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (Catalonian’s Democratic Convergence) won the 2010 Catalan elections in a renewed coalition with Unió (Union). Whilst friction with the central government grew due to disagreements over the Catalan budget, news broke that Convergència’s former leader Jordi Pujol, who was Catalan president from 1980 to 2003, might have undeclared bank accounts abroad with a substantial amount of money. Two of his sons were prosecuted for money laundering and influence peddling. Such scandals only accentuated the tensions between Madrid and Barcelona and in 2014 a non-binding self-determination referendum was held with a result favouring independence.
In the 2015 Catalonian elections, a group of separatist parties ran as a coalition called Junts pel Sí (Together for “Yes”). Convergència (now renamed Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català) joined forces with Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia) and other separatist groups. Their manifesto…