Why do some Catalans want to become independent?

  • Why do some Catalans want to become independent?

    What has changed recently to increase their desire to be independent?

    I'd like to understand this situation, as I am currently completely ignorant about it.

    Related (I would say that at its core this is even a dupe, but I will refrain from VtC because they are asked in different ways): https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/9249/what-are-the-main-policy-differences-between-spain-and-hoped-for-catalonia

    Piggybacking off of CptEric's comment, `What has changed lately to increase their desire to be independent?` Nothing; there have been attempts/voices for Catalan independence for a few hundred years.

    @CptEric thanks, that actually answers my question better than any of the answers here. I actually wouldn't mind my question being closed, but I also thought it was a fundamental question many people would have that didn't seem to be asked yet. I didn't think to look on History.SE.

    @CptEric err sorry I meant Tom Au's answer there... It succinctly summed up what I was missing. Yours is rather long, but now I feel I have to read it. Looks like I'll be learning a lot.

  • Brythan

    Brythan Correct answer

    4 years ago

    What has changed lately to increase their desire to be independent?

    This isn't actually how separatism works. It's not that they want independence now more than they did, say, fifty years ago. It's that they think they can get independence now. Fifty years ago, they would have faced suppression by the military. The rest of Europe would have had difficulty intervening, as Europe wanted General Francisco Franco's support against the Soviet Union.

    Now they can point to European intervention in Libya as favoring their position. They can ask the rest of Europe to protect them from Spanish violence as Libyan rebels were protected from Libyan government violence.

    As to reasons why they want to be independent, they have a separate language and culture and a history of advocating separation. A previous question asked about policy differences between Catalonia and Spain. Beyond that, I can't say it better than Wikipedia:

    Following Franco's death in 1975, Catalan political parties concentrated on autonomy rather than independence.

    The modern independence movement began when the 2006 Statute of Autonomy, which had been agreed with the Spanish government and passed by a referendum in Catalonia, was challenged in the Spanish High Court of Justice, which ruled that some of the articles were unconstitutional, or were to be interpreted restrictively. Popular protest against the decision quickly turned into demands for independence.

    They were focused on autonomy rather than separation and had negotiated an agreement with the Spanish government. The agreement was rejected by a court case, which has led them to feel betrayed. If they can't get autonomy through agreements, they want it through separation.

    Of course, they probably also want to remain in the European Union (EU). So their separation from Spain would have less impact than other separations (e.g. India and Pakistan). There would still be free movement to and from Catalonia if both Catalonia and Spain were in the EU. Both would be subject to EU laws and share a common currency.

    The Libya comparison doesn't hold. Spain is a (more or less) functioning democracy, and a member of NATO and the EU. It would be almost unthinkable for France, UK, or the USA to conduct airstrikes on Madrid or send tanks over the border. Also, Catalonia has a significantly higher per capita income than Spain; it may be regarded as subsidising the rest of Spain, and might be financially better off if it became independent.

    The idea of appealing to European protection seems absurd. The Catalan regional government spent public money to violate the constitution with the declared goal of splitting the country. You will hardly find any European government that condones that kind of behavior (at maximum they will condemn the violence), especially since several European countries have minorities of their own.

    The catalonian politicians have been pointing to the independence referendum in Scotland, here in example (in spanish). None have mentioned intervention in Lybia at all. This otherwise excellent answer would be better off without that reference.

    @RoyalCanadianBandit, just a 3 years ago I too thought that airstirke on the park in the middle of European city is impossible, as well as tanks on the streets with soldiers gunning down bypassers. Ukrainian regime proven me wrong in Lugansk and Mariupol.

    `As to reasons why they want to be independent, they have a separate language and culture` of course, that's not automatically a good reason for drawing a border. Just ask Switzerland... or 1860s Italy. Not to mention the idea of "United States of Europe" that was being thrown around not earlier than 10 or 15 years ago.

    Surely there’s a little more to it than this though, right? I mean, a separate language and culture is all well and good, but aren’t there usually specific grievances that motivate a desire for independence? Perhaps the Spanish government has made policies that hurt Catalonia, or is exploiting it in some fashion?

    @EikePierstorff The Spanish constitution is arguably illegal under international law, because it violates the right to self-determination of the Catalan people (and the people of other regions of Spain), and if so then is void and cannot bind the actions of the Catalan government.

    @OlegV.Volkov: Not saying it's impossible for violence to break out, just that military intervention in Libya does **not** establish a precedent for doing the same in Spain.

    @MikeScott: The right of self-determination applies to colonies. Catalonia is not a colony. There is no absolute "right" in international law for Catalonia, California, or Cornwall to declare itself independent.

    @RoyalCanadianBandit No, it applies to peoples: “All peoples have the right of self-determination.”

    @MikeScott: That requires a definition of what constitutes a "people". Legal precedent is very conservative on this matter. It could hardly be otherwise, given that existing governments do not want parts of their territory to declare independence whenever they feel like it. The residents of my home city don't get to declare that they are a "people" and therefore have a right to secede from the national government.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM