Will austerity drive Catalonia to independence?
- Rallying around cries for independence, an estimated 1.5 million people recently took to the streets of Barcelona to demonstrate support for an autonomous Catalan state. Already recognised as a "nation" within Spain, Catalonia has secured a variety of privileges from the Spanish federal government including language rights and judicial autonomy. The Stream covered the activity on social media during Catalonia's National Day celebration.
- In light of Spain's fiscal instability, many Catalans feel that they aren't getting a sufficient return on investment from the taxes they pay to the federal Spanish government. Catalans suggest their recent request for a €5bn bailout by the Spanish government is merely an attempt to recover funds they claim the federal government is allocating disproportionately. According to Montserrat Guibernau, "Catalonia's average contribution to the Spanish Central Administration and Social Security corresponds to 19.40 per cent of the total. In contrast, Catalonia receives 14.03 per cent". Below, a graph shows that in 2010, although Catalonia payed the third most in taxes, it was the tenth ranked community in resources received.
- In a recent survey conducted by a Barcelona-based newspaper, 51.1 per cent of people in Catalonia favoured independence, opposed to 36 per cent in 2001. The graph below traces sentiment in Spain towards Catalan independence, with those supporting no autonomy in red, the status quo as an autonomous community in yellow, being part of a federal Spain in blue, and independence in green.
- Economic woes represent only part of the strong support for an independent Catalonia. Known for their distinct language and wealth, Catalans have often expressed a strained relationship with the rest of Spain. Many feel animosity from their fellow Spaniards, which occasionally results in a distrust for the federal government as a whole. The documentary below details the history of Catalonia's independence movement.
- When asked whether the Spanish government had done enough to encourage Catalans to be a part of Spain, netizens on Twitter responded:
- Netizens also shared their thoughts on the implications of an independent Catalonia.
- Catalans are known for their deeply-rooted allegiance to FC Barcelona. Although some have predicted an independent Catalonia would mean its famed football club may be relegated to a semi-professional league, that has not stopped former football stars from voicing support for greater autonomy. Former manager and fan favorite of FC Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, has consistently expressed his support for Catalan language, culture, and autonomy. On September 11th, he supported Catalonia's National Day demonstrators via video, and discussed his love for Catalonia in greater detail below.
- The roots of Catalonia's contemporary nationalist movement stem from resistance to Francisco Franco's dictatorship in the 1960s. After Franco's death in 1975, Catalan leadership stewarded Spain towards democracy and ardently advocated for European Union membership. Below, a video shows world renowned cellist, Pau Casals, giving his famous "I am a Catalan" speech upon being honored with a U.N. peace medal in 1971.
- The struggle for Catalan independence has inspired other separatist movements around the world. Political parties from Quebec to Scotland have sought collaboration with leaders in Catalonia, finding many similarities between plausible outcomes and their nationalistic ideals. As complete autonomy continues to be unlikely, these movements strive to wrestle more authority from their respective federal governments.
Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to like or comment.