NY University. THE BATTLE FOR THE SECESSION: Catalonia versus Spain. 2013
I. Introduction: Historical Background and Contemporary Facts
Spain’s transition to democracy with the constitution of 1978 was expected to offer
the political basis for social and national peace. After forty years of Franco’s dictatorship,
the decentralization of power to the historic national communities was seen as the end of
the national rivalries between Galicia, Basque Country, and Catalonia versus Spain, and the
start of an era of regional stability. The rapid instauration of regions during the eighties
homogenized the political power of the historic nationalities with the rest of newly created
regions, excepting for the differentiated fiscal treatment of Basque Country and Navarra.
Unlike what would be expected by some (Norris 2008; Wolff and Yakinthou 2012), in regions
such as Catalonia, the power-sharing process did not terminate aspirations for increasing
self-government powers (Martinez-Herrera 2002, 421-453), as evidenced by increasing
secessionist claims (Figure 1). Although secessionist claims in Catalonia are not new, they
are at their highest peak and constitute a large proportion of the population. The
contemporary scenario is characterized not only by increasing polarization between Catalan
and Spanish leaders, but also by growing social pressure from this pro-secessionist majority
for the celebration of a referendum for self-determination.
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