Catalans Set to Appear in Masses, Calling for Independence from Spain

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Barcelona embraces itself for one of the biggest demonstrations seen in recent years. A massive crowd is expected to call for the establishment of an independent country within the European Union on Catalonia’s national day, September 11th.

This rally will add to the pressure on the Spanish government to ask for a European bailout, following the footsteps of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Background

The national day of Catalonia, September 11th, commemorates the defeat of Catalonia in the War of Succession in 1714. After the last Spanish king died without a heir, various European forces intervened in setting a new royal dynasty. Catalonia chose the wrong side and was eventually defeated by the Spaniards. Barcelona fell after a long siege on this day in 1714.Catalonia Independence

In decentralized Spain, the region of Catalonia has a public holiday on this day, which is marked by various events. This year, 298 after that siege, Catalan independence is the limelight.

Limited Autonomy

Catalonia enjoyed a significant degree of self governance and saw the Catalan language blooming. However, on the economic side, many Catalans feel they are over subsidizing over regions of Spain, paying more in taxes and receiving less, paying more in toll roads and not having the option to use toll-free roads, etc.

Tension has risen in recent years as the economic situation deteriorated everywhere. Privately funded non-binding local referendums were held since 2009 in support of an independent Catalan country within the EU. Being part of Europe, and the euro-zone, also had an impact on the sentiment – the same open borders and currency could be used, without being under the cosh of Madrid.

However, up to 2012, opinion polls showed no absolute majority for an independent state: many favored more autonomy, and in particular, the same tax model that another northern region has. The Basque Country collects its own taxes and only pays the central government money for specific services it receives. This model has been rejected by Madrid, and is another point of friction.

Rise in Tensions

With more economic suffering, came more austerity, including the unpopular hike in VAT. And with growing fears in Europe, Catalonia found itself shut out of money markets. Practically, the central government is the only Spanish body with market access. So, Catalonia found itself asking for an internal bailout worth 5 billion euros.

This is one of the things that pushed more Catalans to the arms of the pro-independence camp. Also the threat of an ex colonel to use the army against Catalan independence angered many. Today, opinion polls show that independence has over 50% support. The national day will provide a chance to make this call public and massive.

Contrary to the previous days, the main slogan will be “Catalonia, a new independent state in Europe”. More mainstream politicians from the ruling center right CiU party will support, as well as ex FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.

Anecdotal evidence seen around Barcelona shows that the turnout will be massive. Many people who shun away from politics intend to participate.

Implications for Spain

An independent Catalonia would hurt Spain both politically and economically. Suggesting Catalans an improved economic model would also inflict heavy damage: Catalonia is a relatively rich region which has significant industry and tourism. Giving up on this income would serve as a huge blow to Spain’s delicate finances.

A massive turnout in the rally and world attention would not lead to any immediate steps for independence or a struggle against it. However, it would add to the mounting pressure on Spanish PM Rajoy to ask for a bailout from Europe, a step needed to get the money flowing from the ECB. However, this blood wedding with “the men in black” could require more austerity and would hurt the government.

There were reports that Rajoy might with to wait with a request until after October 21st, when his own home region of Galicia goes to the polls. Asking for aid would dampen his party’s chances.

With Spain still not out of the woods, local events have serious implications. This is even more important when part of the country calls for secession.

Further reading: Draghi Lends a Political Hand to Rajoy

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About Author

Yohay Elam – Founder, Writer and Editor I have been into forex trading for over 5 years, and I share the experience that I have and the knowledge that I’ve accumulated. After taking a short course about forex. Like many forex traders, I’ve earned the significant share of my knowledge the hard way. Macroeconomics, the impact of news on the ever-moving currency markets and trading psychology have always fascinated me. Before founding Forex Crunch, I’ve worked as a programmer in various hi-tech companies. I have a B. Sc. in Computer Science from Ben Gurion University. Given this background, forex software has a relatively bigger share in the posts.

  • This is one of those events that could lead to some interesting developments worth watching over the comings weeks, months, or even years.

    I remember as a young 18 year old travelling throughout Europe that I was quite surprised just how different the Catalan area of Spain was in terms of language, culture, etc. They definitely hold on to their roots and he idea of forcing eventual independence doesn’t seem entirely far-fetched.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I also think they are quite different and that eventually they’ll have their own state.

    • Nikhil

      @garrett, having a different culture and different language does not mean a separate nation state. Nations are not built on the idea of similar languages and cultures.

      I am from India and every part speaks a different language and has a different culture. But we stick together despite our differences. That is cos we are indian, just like however different the catalans are they are spanish.

    • jacbob

      I’m suprised to hear your comments and starting to consider if you ever travel through spain and catalonia in particular. If you have done it you would have seen that even catalonia is quite different depending on which part you were. I am from a part of catalonia where tha major spoken language is castillian spanish and where most of the people feels from spain, and those regions are the most populated in catalonia and the ones producing most of the catalan GDP (≈80%). You may want to travel again through the iberian peninsula. 😉

  • Sythie

    The situation in Catalonia has a number of similarities to that of Scotland both politically, economically and socially. The Scottish independence referendum planned for 2014 will hopefully see Scotland achieve independence from the UK. Let’s hope that the Catalans also get their chance to have a voice in Europe

    • Thanks for your comment. The main difference that I see is that Scotland isn’t a rich area in the UK, whereas Catalonia is a rich one in Spain. Accepting secession is therefore easier in the Scottish case.

      • David

        The main difference is that Catalonia has been always a region, never a independent country, while scottish had their own kings, catalans has been always a region. In medieval age Catalonia was part of the Aragon Crown…Spain is the fusion of the old crowns of Castilla, Aragón, Navarra …

        While people from Aragón, Valencia and other regions that in older times were part of the Aragon Kingdom, are loyal to Spain, In Catalonia there are independists.

        This is not a old feeling, but a new one, dates from XX century, and is 100% for economic purposes.

        Catalan politics do not want independece, they just use it like a weapon against the Central state to get more federal privileges.

        the Independece of catalonia would be a KAOS for all, it would be like Yugoslabia.

        • Peter

          Yes David, maybe in General Franco School books… or in your dreams. I can’t imagine a german citizen mentioning ideas from a 1940 nazi written school book. What you say here is what was taught during the continuous dictatorships the leaded spain in XIX and XX century.

          Now come and tell me that spain is the oldest nation in the world… I know people like you love this fantasy too.

          By the way, clean up those ashes on your shoulders…

          • David

            So, you think that catalonia was once upon a time a independent country…

            Prove it, but you won’t be able to do it because it has never been a independent country, but a region. And is not a Franco’s idea, is basic historic evidence that you can read in any historic book on the world.

            but, ok ,prove it.

      • David.

        I find it funny you seem to believe that Scotland is a poor area within the UK. The most recent budget from Osbourne relied on extra revenue from higher taxes on Scottish oil. Even using the word area to describe Scotland rather than nation is also insulting.

  • DNG

    Catalonia is different than the basque region which is different than Andulica etc. this is all about money and who gets to keep it.Nothing else.

    • Thanks. I believe that most people would have settled for the Basque economic model and not become pro-independent. This isn’t the interest of the central government of course.

      • Zico

        It is an interesting event to watch and see how the central government reacts. I am a big football enthusiast. I am very particular of FC Barcelona and through them I have gotten more insight on the differences of culture, language and societal values that differentiate Catalunya from the central Spanish governance. It would be very interesting to see how FC Barcelona, Espanyol FC and other football teams could branch out of La Liga and how that would impact La Liga.
        I know this is an off the topic (in the topic) comment. But it plays off the consequences of a sport that has reflected a lot of the passions that go on in a society.

        • It would certainly be interesting. FC Barcelona is some kind Catalonia’s national team. They could certainly branch out and have their own league – there are enough teams in Catalonia. However, it wouldn’t be a strong league, and also the Spanish league would be hurt. The title is much more prestigious when there two top tier global teams (FC Barcelona and Real Madrid) battling for it.

        • Peter

          FC Barcelona could play in the Spanish league (as Andorra does), the French league (as Monaco do) or in the Italian League (as Malta team used to do), It’s just a matter of money, not of states or nations, FC Barcelona is a money maker, also, real Madrid without its eternal rivalry against FC Barcelona would loose a lot of interest. Nobody would benefit from pulling FC Barcelona from spanish league.

          Having said this, INDEPENDENCE and people’s wealth and safety is a far more serious thing than where a football team is going to play.

          • jacbob

            I believe Portugal has its own soccer league. I do not think catalan teams from an independent catalonia will be welcome in Spain fro a long time. Time would have to pass, maybe 300 years hehe

  • Sythie

    You’re exactly right re: your comment. Scotland is not a rich area within the UK. Primarily because our wealth i.e oil revenues, revenues from exports such as whiskey are controlled by the U.k government. We are similar to the Catalans in the sense that we receive back less than what we generate in terms of revenue ( according to the UK National Audit Office). In fact this has been the case for much of the past 25 years. In technical terms of GDP per capita Scotland would be around 7th place in the EU whereas the UK would be around 12th should Scotland secede.

    More important than any economic argument is the right to self determination. Should it be the will of the Catalan people to go independent then they should be entitled to, because like Scotland, they are a distinct nation, and every nation has the right to be in control of its own affairs.

    • I certainly agree with the right of self determination. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the people will opt to seceded in a referendum, but they should be given a chance. In Quebec, a referendum ended in a decision to stay in Canada. In Catalonia, I believe that a vast majority will be seen, especially if Catalonia remains within the EU.

    • David

      Catalonia is not like Scotland. while sctoland was a Kindogm, Catalonia has been always a region.

      It was part of the Aragón Kindogm, together with Valencia, Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Aragon.

      Spain is the fusion of the old kindogms, Castilla, Aragon, Navarra and Granada.

      So, the independence of Catalonia has not historical support, it is just a matter of $

      • Peter

        Yes David, you know, a lie being said a thousand times… you know what comes next, I’m sure.

        • David

          a lie?

          prove that I’m wrong

          YOU CANT because I’m talking about facts

    • paddy

      You say you are Scottish – yet you make a cardinal error no Scotsman would ever make – misspelling whisky. Whiskey is Irish!

      • Sythie

        Nothing more than an i phone typo. At least I didn’t call it Scotch.

  • AMR

    On the other side of the coin, I used to live in north east Catalunya from 11 years old until I turned 21 last year, and would get asked what I thought about the region becoming independent regularly, to which I would respond that it doesn’t concern me because it’s not my nation. As a result of not having an opinion I was marketed as a hater by some of the more extreme ‘independentistas’ that were around and I would be looked down on by the majority. Other Spanish friends of mine would receive more abuse just because of where they were born in Spain. My parents are still living in the area and they encounter problems almost daily because they’re English and speak fluent Spanish instead of Catalan even though it’s essentially Spain. My blood boils when I here about their supposed values as a nation after being made to feel like I was and seeing others treated the same for not supporting or even having a pro-independence opinion.
    Catalunya is a lovely part of the world with some lovely individuals, and is somewhere I still consider my home. But the hate they’ve brought upon themselves as a nation by acting in this fashion unfortunately makes me want to see it ‘collapse’ or ‘fail’ as such, rather than prosper and I’m sure I’m not the only one or just a minority opinion.

    • Peter

      Look AMR, to build this kind of harming fantasy you should choose a more credible area than “the northeast of catalonia”, maybe Barcelona where most spaniards are installed and where racism is extremely practiced by them, against muslims, against their “south american brothers” and specially against the locals, so you better go and read something, learn to lie, and then come back and puke your mental disorder.

      • AMR

        Credible? So your saying the only part of the region that matters is Barcelona? Anyway, if my opinion is some kind of mental disorder then your deluded mate, I’m only explaining my own and my family and friends experiences in a part of Catlalunya that is extremely independentista. Let’s hear your story then if mine is such a fantasy?

  • DNG

    Is it true that a lot catalans would have parents and especially grandparents from Andulucia who travelled north in search of work back in the day?

    • Peter

      Yes, this is true and was a Franco’s strategy to dilute Catalan language and culture which were forbidden to use outside your own home. Sadly for the spaniards many of those immigrants and most of their descendants have integrated and turned into catalan culture and identity, in very different grades, but feeling more and more distant form this obsolete spanish folklorical and imperialist culture.

      • David

        So…why are you so promutliculturalist and pro inmigration? are muslims and africans going to become perfect catalans? lol

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