Catalonia, spelled Catalunya in Catalan, is either a country or a region organized into an autonomous community in Spain, depending on whom you listen to. It includes the major Spanish city of Barcelona, and its namesake football team. An independence referendum was held on October 1, 2017. Out of the 43% of Catalan voters who voted, 90% voted to become their own nation state. However, the election was not supported by many Catalans.
The political entity of the Principality of Catalonia was built along the Middle Ages, as a member of the Crown of Aragon. Catalonia has been part of the Monarchy of Spain since the crowns of Castile and Aragon joined into a dynastic union as Spain, with Catalonia retaining its own laws and institutions. Eventually, calls for separation from Spain flared up, starting as early as the 17th century.. Catalonia supported Charles of Habsburg in the War of Spanish Succession and, after its defeat, the Bourbons supressed much of the Catalan institutional system. During the 19th century it became a center of industrialization. The Second Spanish Republic established the polical autonomy of Catalonia. During the Spanish Civil War, Catalonia was a member of the Republican side, because the nationalist leftists in Catalonia had much of the power. It took until 1939 for Barcelona to fall, and Catalonia was one of the last Republican strongholds until the very end of the war. In the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell fought in Catalonia, and later wrote his book, Homage to Catalonia.
Catalonia was autonomous in the time before the rule of Francisco Franco, but lost said autonomy under his dictatorial rule. However, after Franco, Catalonia regained much of their autonomy. In 2006, Catalonia became even more autonomous, with some financial powers not previously had. That state ended in 2010, when the Constitutional Court of Spain decided that the Statute was in violation of the Constitution. Many Catalan voters criticized the decision and then wanted more or total independence from Spain. Separatists came into power in 2015, and they then planned a full referendum for October 1, 2017, also known as 1-O in the area. Many people who could have voted did not, especially those associated with the unionists, which were boycotting it, and those that opposed independence. The turnout was 43%. 90% of voters voted for Catalonia to be an independent nation. On October 27, independence was declared by the Catalan parliament, though Spain had already readied to take legal action against Catalonia if that occurred. Spain swiftly moved to dissolve Parliament in Catalonia, get rid of the heads of the government, and call for snap elections. Carles Puigdemont, the President of Catalonia, later fled to Brussels, Belgium.
Arguments for independence
- Catalonia has its own separate culture, distinct from that of Spain.
- The Catalan language is denied support by Spain, and it, and the minority languages of Catalonia, would be better protected under the rule of a Catalan government.
- Catalonia could survive, and even thrive, on its own.
- The Catalan people want independence, as they voted for it. If you didn't vote, then, guess what, your vote doesn't count. That's how a democracy works.
- Too much of Catalonia's money goes to help other regions of Spain.
Arguments against independence
- Smaller domestic market is and has always been an economic disadvantage. To think that Catalonia would become an exception (like Switzerland, which has been achieved under very different circumstances) is a big leap of faith.
- Smaller countries have in general a higher risk perception.
- Smaller size also means a lower political weight in International institutions.
- International recognition is going to be an issue, with the (today) strong opposition by most major powers (and all of them have veto power in relevant decisions, such as accession to UN or to the EU).
- Catalonia is now part of a economic network in Spain that would be probably disrupted.
- Socially, one could expect some unrest between those who have been openly supporting independence and those who haven’t.
- Spain will be helped economically by remaining with Catalonia.
- Spain has already said no, so independence is a moot subject.
- Catalonia actually won't be able to thrive as a nation.
The Catalonian culture does share some similarities with that of Spain, but is different. They share much the same history and they share the same soccer league, La Liga. However, some Catalans have a different national identity than that of the Spaniards. Catalan cuisine, though similar enough to Spanish cuisine that some people could confuse it, is a different cuisine. thoug to be fair the same could be said for other Spanish regions. Catalan cuisine generally involves fresh seafood, meat, and vegetables that are native to the region. Bread with tomato, botifarra, a sausage, and escudella, a stew, are three common Catalan dishes. Crema Catalana, a dessert similar to crème brulée, is also a hallmark of Catalan cuisine.
Catalan is one of the languages spoken in Catalonia aside from Spanish, parts of Valencia, a small segment of France, Andorra, the Balearic Islands, a small part of Aragon, and Alghero in Sardinia. It is the sole official language of Andorra. Valencian is either the Catalan dialect of Valencia, the opinion favoured by most knowledgeable linguists, or a very closely related separate language. Roughly 9.5 million people speak Catalan, most of them in Catalonia. The Renaiçenxa, Catalan for the Renaissance, was the period in which Catalan culture, and especially the language, underwent a status transformation into a respectable language for writers such as Jacint Verdaguer and other intellectuals. Institut d'Estudis Catalans is the primary standardizer of the Catalan language. Catalan was a Romance language and thus descended from Latin. It is related to Spanish, but is by no means mutually intelligible, and it is closer to the Occitan language of southern France. Between Latin and Catalan was the form of the language known as Old Catalan.
- BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29478415
- Sesma Muñoz, José Angel. La Corona de Aragón. Una introducción crítica. Zaragoza: Caja de la Inmaculada, 2000 (Colección Mariano de Pano y Ruata - Dir. Guillermo Fatás Cabeza)
- Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell (1938).
- Catalan Language, Britannica