Catalan independence: the story continues
A lot has happened in Spain since the last article we posted about the situation regarding Catalan independence. New questions can be asked: why is Catalonia important to Spain? And how do Catalans themselves view the separatist movement?
“If the separatists want independence, we want it as well!” what Alberto Boadella said in an interview with the NOS. Boadella is the inventor of Tabarnia: a Catalan region, around Barcelona, that hosts a lot of anti-separatist citizens. The feelings toward Spain in this region are vastly different than in the rest of Catalonia. Therefore, Tabarnia now asks for its independence from Catalonia. All of this started out as a parody on the intense situation in Catalonia, but now a demonstration for the Tabarnian independence is even organised. Real or fake, serious or for fun, all of this goes to show the massive divide within Catalonia in regard to its possible independence.
By Leonie Andriessen, February 15th, 2017
After declaring Catalan independence on October 27th 2017, Carles Puigdemont, former regional president of Catalonia, fled to Brussels because he was in danger of getting arrested by the Spanish government for his rebellious acts. Now the separatist parties in Catalonia are looking for a new regional president and have put Puigdemont forward as the only candidate. The Spanish government will not allow this since Puigdement is not in Spain but in Belgium.
The regional president cannot be sworn in without physically being in the country, according to the Constitutional Court. But Puigdemont does not want to come back to Spain because there is a warrant out for his arrest in his home country. The case is at a stand-still. The installation of the new regional president has been postponed and it is likely that a new candidate has to arise. If this does not happen, the Catalans will have to vote again in May.
A reason for the Spanish government to not want Catalonian independence is Spain’s dependence on Catalonia. Catalonia is an incredibly important region to Spain, economically. It is often referred to as the economic engine of Spain. It makes up for about 20% of the total Spanish GDP which is extensive, relative to its inhabitants who make up about 16% of the Spanish citizens. Catalonia is a very industrial region and also the most popular region in Spain amongst tourists. This is of course a very important reason for the Spanish government to not want to lose this region.
This same aspect of Catalonia is an important argument for Catalans to want independence, since they feel that the Spanish government profits of their hard work. The question is, however, whether Catalonia will still accrue as much money when it is a separated region. When the region is no longer part of the EU there will be a bigger boundary for tourists to travel there. Also, things will probably not settle down quickly in Catalonia as its citizens are very divided. All of this can affect its economy greatly.
Whilst a group of Catalans, about half its population probably, felt relieved by the postponement, others were angered. Thousands of separatists gathered at the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona and demanded for Puigdemont to be their president. They are still fighting for their independence. But the issue of Catalonian independence is a very sensitive subject in the Spanish and Catalonian community. Not all Catalans want independence nor are happy with what is happening.
A different perspective was heard of, whilst the SPIL visited the ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid. One of the diplomats showing us around and answering our questions was from Catalonia. When asked a question about the situation in Catalonia, she explained that she sees the wish for separation as the Catalans putting themselves above Spaniards and thus think they are better, based on where they are from. She is adamant that she does not feel this way and is saddened by other people who do. On the other hand, separatists feel that they are put down by the Spaniards. Consequently, within Catalonia there is even more of a divide on the subject of independence, which is difficult when you want to form an independent state with citizens that are extremely split on the declaration of its independence.
Tabarnia wil bij Spanje blijven en dus desnoods los van Catalonië – 11 februari 2018 – nos.nl
Installatie Puigdemont tot regiopresident uitgesteld – 30 januari 2018 – nos.nl
Spaans hof verbiedt benoeming Puigdemont vanuit Brussel – 27 januari 2018 – nos.nl
Separatisten bestormen Catalaans parlement en eisen Puigdemont als president – 30 januari 2018 – nrc.nl