The traditionally strong team of the Primera Liga in Spain is FC Barcelona. Recently, a huge event in that the nationality of this team could be changed has happened. A strong independence movement in the Catalonia region of Spain has started. Catalonia is a region that is located in northeastern part of Spain. Even though Catalonia’s area is somewhat small, there are differences in its history and in its linguistic culture compared with the whole of Spain. It is necessary to know all the details about why Catalonia wants to become not just an autonomous region, but a completely independent region, and huge effects after which independence will bring.
The Background Why They Want to be Independent
In the 18th century, Catalonia was known as the center of the industrial revolution in the Iberian Peninsula, especially Barcelona. Lots of industries, including the machinery industry and the cotton textile industry, were developed there, so Catalonia was able to lead the Spanish economy. Also, Catalonia is famous for tourist attractions in the world. Sagrada Familia built in Barcelona of the Catalonia region is one of the most popular sites and many tourists have visited there every year.
Financial crisis was one of the reasons that Catalonian people wanted separation and independence in the late 2000s. After facing an economic crisis, the central government of Spain relied on Catalonia’s finances in resolving economic difficulties. Actually, Catalonia has had a somewhat large influence in the economic sector considering the size of its territory. According to statistics in 2016, Catalonia accounted for 20.1 percent of Spain’s GDP and 25.6 percent of the whole of Spain’s export volume was from Catalonia. Also, more than 20 percent of Spain’s tax is collected from Catalonia every year, and this amount comes to 8 % of the Catalonia region’s gross production. Catalonian people started to say, “We always give the central government a lot of things, but receive little by comparison.” And, it was the start of conflict.
Catalonia was a part of Kingdom of Aragon. Back in time, Catalonia conducted trade in the Mediterranean and made huge developments through industry compared with the Kingdom of Castile, whose territory was similar to that of present-day Spain. However, in 1469, the Kingdom of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile merged, and the influence of the Catalonia region became weak. Then the united Spain was created. Spain was run centered on Madrid located in the middle of Spanish territory, and from that time, Catalonia people longed for their separation and independence. Catalonia has demanded independence for a long time as an advanced industrial area and ethnic group using an independent language. In 1714, they strived for independence through a war of succession to the throne, but they failed and lost their political freedom. Then early in the 1930s, they got their right of autonomy for a while. But after the Battle for Spain, Spain was ruled in dictatorship by Franco, so Catalonia was deprived of their political liberty and their use of Catalonian language was also banned.
Catalonia: The Vigorous Movement towards Separation
A Heightened Atmosphere
In 2005, the Catalonian Regional Parliament attempted to reform Catalonia’s autonomy charter. In a new charter, Catalonia was defined as a “nation” and Catalonia’s language has priority over Spanish. However, the Central Council of Spain had dissatisfaction about that, so they finally sued Catalonia’s autonomy charter for a breach of the constitution. In 2010, the Constitutional Court of Spain was found to be partially unconstitutional. Catalonian people who felt limited by the existing constitution started to yell for real independence in earnest.
The central government of Spain already banned enforcement of a vote for independence in Catalonia in 1978. However, Catalonia state government broke this judgement, and in 2014, they enforced an informal vote about independence of Catalonia Among about six million voters, 2,250,000 people participated in the vote, and 80 percent agreed with independence from Spain. This vote didn’t carry legal binding force, but the world could know what general opinion in the Catalonia region was. Also, in the 2015 election of the regional parliament of Catalonia, the party supporting independence had a majority in parliament, so they pushed “Independence” forward.
The Catalonia state government enforced the inhabitants’ yes or no voting about separation and independence on October 1st. Although the Constitutional Court of Spain had already ruled this action ineffective, Catalonia voted regardless. Therefore, the central government of Spain mobilized the police to obstruct the Catalonian people’s voting and impounded the ballot boxes. Also, violence occurred between protesters who supported the vote and the police. However, in these circumstances, 92 % of 2,260,000 people agreed with the independence of Catalonia. The turnout was 42.3%. However, Rajoy, prime minister of the central government said that this voting was already against the Spanish constitution, and furthermore the turnout didn’t reach 50 percent, so the result of Catalonia’s voting could not be accepted. After that, the central government decided to exercise article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. This article 155 includes as follows: if the state government didn’t fulfill their obligations and violated the interests of Spain, the central government could use any means for stabilizing the situation.
Catalonia, resisting Spain’s decision, passed a proclamation of independence through its regional parliament’s voting on October 27th. They declared themselves an independent nation by themselves. However, immediately, the Senate of Spain passed a ruling regarding the deprivation of Catalonia’s right of autonomy and announced that the central government will directly start rule of the Catalonia region. The chief leaders of Catalonia were dismissed by the central government, and the state parliament was also dispersed. Then, Puigdemont, the head of Catalonia said, “We will resist through the democratic process.”
If Catalonia Comes to be Separated
Now, Catalonian people have longed for their independence based on their powerful economic power in Spain. However, it is doubtful whether Catalonia will be able to maintain their economic power even after independence from Spain. As Spain has already joined the EU, it is hard for Catalonia to rejoin the EU as an “independent nation” considering the world situation. For a long time, the economy of Catalonia has been affected by the influence of the EU as 28 member states occupy 70 % of investment by foreigners and 65 percent of export in the Catalonia region. Also, if Catalonia withdraws from the EU, a new currency that can be substituted for the euro will be necessary. In this situation the risk of economic crisis in Catalonia might be increased, as some major companies headquartered in Barcelona have recently decided movement of their head offices. It is the beginning of an “exodus of companies” escaping this phenomenon. Therefore, this economic matter is one of the biggest issues in the matter of independence.
How about Other Countries?
Most countries, including marginal states in Europe, oppose the independence of Catalonia. A US State Department spokesman said, “We will support the central government of Spain that try to maintain an integrated ‘Spain’.” The spokespersons of other EU countries also supported the central government. They stated, “The Spanish government is our only companion of conversation.” It is a similar position held by the United Kingdom, which went through Scotland’s vote for independence in 2014. Prime Minister Theresa May of the UK announced through the statement, “Unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia can’t be accepted,” and, “We hope that the constitution will be respected and the whole of Spain will be unified.” Also, some experts analyzed this issue like this: There are also signs of division of small regions in other countries. Therefore, if leaders of the world supported the Catalonian state government, other small regions also might demand their independence from other governments.
Future of Catalonia
What will happen to Catalonia’s future? After the central government decided on the deprivation of Catalonia’s parliament’s rights, there was an anti-independence demonstration with 1,300,000 people in Barcelona. The government of Spain also stated that there will be early elections for organizing a new parliament in December. The leading members of Catalonia’s parliament, including Puigdemont, meanwhile, are in exile in Belgium. The government of Spain issued summons to them, but they refused continuously. These former leading members said they have a plan to run for the December election again. However, if Catalonia’s people come to be disappointed by these pro-independence members, those members can fail in the election, and then, the independence of Catalonia will fade away. Therefore, it can be said that the election for organizing a new parliament in December can determine the future.
Catalonia and Spain are even now on the road of opposition. Catalonia, which demands its independence, and Spain, which demands the complete Spain. This problem is too complicated to conclude with which side is correct. This long story of the two areas will come to a settlement anyhow. CAH hope both sides will use not violence with blood spilled, but rather peaceful cooperation. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >