World Policy Blog. Catalonia: Europe’s Next State? 15.11.2013
By Glòria Pallarès
A pro-independence movement has surged in Catalonia, Spain’s most economically powerful region. Over half of Catalans are now in favor of secession, about twice as many as in 2008. Mass rallies have pushed for a new Catalan state within the EU framework— with claims that the territory’s political and economic demands have been systematically brushed aside by the Spanish government. Madrid will now have to tackle Catalan grievances in order to break the current political deadlock and avert instability that could hamper Spain’s recovery from an ongoing and savage recession.
Following an appeal by the ruling Popular Party (PP), in 2010, Spain’s Constitutional Court annulled key articles of Catalonia’s statute of autonomy, which had been agreed to by the Catalan and Spanish parliaments and approved in referendum in 2006. In response, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against the striking down of Catalan as the preferential language in public media and government administration and to defend autonomous judiciary and fiscal power. Again in 2012, on the national day of Catalonia – the Diada – a peaceful mass rally caught politicians unaware. A week afterwards, Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, turned down a longstanding request to balance Catalonia’s contribution to the state with what it receives in public spending, denying the fiscal autonomy granted to the Basque and Navarra regions. In response, the center-right Convergence and Union (CiU) leader of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, called for early elections. This vote resulted in parties favoring a referendum on independence representing 80 percent of the regional assembly.
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