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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Split Spain: a civilized “divorce” Madrid and Barcelona are impossible


Few days remain before the referendum on secession of Catalonia from Spain. The vote is scheduled for October 1, and the situation in the country more and more heated: the Spanish authorities promised to bring the maximum possible number of security forces at polling stations to prevent the will of the Catalans. The stakes are high – in case of a victory of supporters of a break with the Kingdom, the head of the Generalitat (government of Catalonia) Carles Pujdeme may unilaterally declare independence in the next 48 hours. The government of Spain headed by Mariano Rajoy believes the acquisition of the region of independence, an assault on the unity and integrity of the state. The referendum declared by the Constitutional court of Spain outside the law. In government buildings of Catalonia, ongoing searches and arrests.


photo: ru.wikipedia.org

Like many territorial disputes, the hostility of Madrid and Catalonia has its roots in a long history.

Freedom-loving Catalonia became part of the Kingdom of Spain in 1496 the result of the dynastic Union of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, however, has repeatedly attempted to secede. Catalan independence failed to recover only once: in the “War of the reapers” – in 12 years (1640-1652). Popular in the period of the uprising of folk melody through the centuries will be the Foundation of the national anthem of the region – “Els Segadors” (cat. “reapers”).

At the beginning of the twentieth century, like the centuries before the brothers Grimm collected German folk tales, residents of the area were afraid to recreate their culture and turned into a kitchen dialect of the Catalan language. The proud Catalans have praised their great fellow surrealist artist Salvador Dali and architect Antoni Gaudi.

Catalan nationalism for decades fed the hatred of the dictatorial regimes in Spain of Primo de Rivera (1923-1930) and Francisco Franco (1939-1975). During the Civil war (1936-1939), as opposed to backward Franco’s North and center of Catalonia had the most Republicans, which has enlisted the support of the left. When Barcelona was subjected to barbaric bombing by the Italians as allies of Franco, on the side of the Republic openly took even an ardent anti-Communist Winston Churchill.

Having survived the persecution of the language, culture and political institutions, Catalonia in 1979 received autonomy: establishment of a local government, Parliament and police forces (Mossos d’esquadra) and the Catalan language was given official status along with Castilian (as in the region referred to as Spanish).

Until recently it seemed that the separatist sentiment quieted down: in 2003, only advocating for the independence party Republican left of Catalonia (ERC) won the parliamentary elections only 16.5% of the vote. Ten years later the situation has changed: 11 September 2014, national day of Catalonia in Barcelona held a large rally in support of a referendum on secession under the slogan “the Time is now!”. The event was attended by 1.8 million people when the city’s population of 1.6 million

In the opinion of the local population, Catalonia as the most industrialized region of the country allegedly “feeds” Spain, paying annually to the state budget by 10 billion euros more than he receives (GDP of Catalonia accounts for about 20% of Spanish GDP). The economic background of the conflict makes it similar to European crisis 2008-2014 years: Germany is a rich “North” of the European Union, Catalonia is a rich “North” of Spain. Like Germany, accusing Greece and Portugal in the dependent moods, Costa del Sol expresses its claims to other regions of Spain: the inhabitants of Extremadura, Murcia and Andalusia look in the eyes of the Catalans profiting from the labor of the North.

Parallels conducted with the referendum 2014 in Scotland in which a majority voted against independence. Five million the government took the decision to secede from the United Kingdom in the day of semistate victory of the Scots over the English at Bannockburn. If it voted for independence, the majority, source of income an independent Scotland would have to be the reserves of oil found in the 1970-ies on the shelf of the North sea, and the production of whiskey. However, the country would not be able to use as currency British pound, and she would have to pay all the debts that are registered for the North of the UK.

The main argument of Madrid against the secession of Catalonia – commercial and economic advantages that the region enjoys in the composition of a member country of the European Union. Joining of an independent Catalonia in the EU may not be possible, as Madrid has a veto in this matter. Freely Catalonia could join, except that in UEFA for participation in sports the world famous football club “Barcelona”. In addition, before an independent Catalonia will be a need to secure the borders. The burden of the additional military spending for the region will be hard to bear: Catalonia, the owner of the biggest debt among the Spanish regions (€75 billion).

Recall that the first attempt of the referendum, the Catalans have taken on 9 November 2014. In order to circumvent the prohibitions of the constitutional court of Spain, instead, the region held a large-scale informal survey, the results of which for independence voted almost 81% of the participants (it is worth considering that the turnout was only 37%). The strength of separatist sentiment have demonstrated the success of the nationalists in the regional parliamentary elections in 2015. The party “Convergence and Union” (CiU), headed by a supporter of self-determination, Artur Mas, has joined with others in calling for the separation of powers. Together they made the election under the name “Together — Yes!” (where “Yes” is the answer to the question of secession of Catalonia) and won. With the arrival in 2017 at the head of the regional government of Carles Pokdemon the prospect of separation becomes a reality, but we are glad that the Catalans themselves?

The constitutional court of Spain has suspended all generalities and adopted by the Catalan Parliament documents regarding the referendum, making, thus, all further steps of the local authorities on the preparation of the referendum illegal.

In response to Madrid’s nationalist sentiments once again in full swing. Employees of the border guard services at the entrance of the Autonomous region now welcomes newcomers with the phrase: “Welcome to the Republic of Catalonia!” Students of the University of Barcelona handing out leaflets with a picture of a smiling, Mariano Rajoy and king Philip VI of Spain. The inscriptions on them read: “We’ll wipe those grins from their faces!”

The situation escalated after retaliation of Madrid: September 20, was arrested on 14 major Catalan officials (later all were released). Civil guard of Spain has raided printing houses and editorial offices and seized nearly 10 million ballots. The response of the province to Madrid RAID was bucket March in protest, the Catalans took to the streets and 10 minutes, beat in the dishes.

In a conversation with “MK” said the associate Professor of the Department of integration processes, MGIMO Alexander Tevdoy-Burmuli, “actions Madrid has radicalsare mood in society.” “Previously, for independence going to vote about 40% of the referendum participants. Now this percentage may increase,” – said the expert.

Its tough steps of the Metropolitan government justify 155th article of the Spanish Constitution, according to which the government is to protect state interests may be “forced to take the necessary steps to perform an offline Community of their obligations.”

In a matter of days before the plebiscite Madrid decided to send in the Autonomous community of about 5 thousand representatives of law enforcement agencies. As the expert stressed, “at a time when Catalonia is controlled by Spanish security forces, it is difficult to imagine that the referendum on 1 October will take place at all. The capital should not have to intervene after supporters of the separation did not gain more than 50%. Now, the civilized “divorce” is impossible: betting both sides is too high. If the Catalan nationalists will be defeated, it will be the best outcome for Catalonia and Madrid”.

According to the latest polls, the independence of Catalonia support 41% of the population of the autonomy, 49% oppose. The majority of Catalans calling for independence, understand that the referendum should be agreed with the capital.

Despite the exhortations of Madrid, protests continue across the region. The conventional wisdom is that the minds of the Catalans owns not the idea of sovereignty. As noted in conversation with “MK” one of the students of the University of Barcelona, “they [the Catalans] are rather like small children who, following the lead of emotion, want to get away from their parents.”

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