Columns / Discourse / November 8, 2017

There are no good options for Catalonia’s independence

Catalonia​ ​is​ ​a​ ​semi-autonomous​ ​region​ ​of​ ​Spain​ ​that​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​pushing​ ​towards independence.​ ​Catalonia’s​ ​actions—as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Spanish​ ​Government’s​ ​response​ ​to​ ​those actions—have​ ​been​ ​handled​ ​poorly​ ​and​ ​have​ ​left​ ​the​ ​region​ ​with​ ​no​ ​good​ ​options​ ​and​ ​only varying​ ​degrees​ ​of​ ​failure.

The​ ​drive​ ​for​ ​independence​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​Catalonia’s​ ​resentment​ ​for​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​country. While​ ​the​ ​region​ ​only​ ​makes​ ​up​ ​a​ ​fairly​ ​small​ ​portion​ ​of​ ​Spain,​ ​it​ ​accounts​ ​for​ ​one fifth​ ​of Spain’s​ ​total​ ​economic​ ​output​ ​and​ for a fifth​ ​of​ ​its​ ​tax​ ​revenue.

Catalonia​ ​believes​ ​it​ ​is​ ​being​ ​extorted​, that it is ​propping​ ​up​ ​the​ ​poorer​ ​regions​ ​of​ ​the​ ​country​ ​and​ ​is not​ ​getting​ ​sufficient​ ​government​ ​benefits—such​ ​as​ ​infrastructure​ ​improvements—considering how​ ​much​ ​of​ ​the​ ​nation’s​ ​tax​ ​revenue​ ​it​ ​contributes.

On​ ​Oct.​1​ ​the​ ​region​ ​held​ ​a​ ​referendum​ ​to​ ​decide​ ​on​ ​becoming​ ​an​ ​independent​ ​state.​ ​The vote​ ​was​ ​declared​ ​illegal​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Spanish​ ​Government​ ​and​ ​met​ ​with​ ​excessive​ ​resistance. Violence between​ ​the​ ​Spanish​ ​police​ ​and​ ​the citizens​ ​​ ​broke​ out ​in​ ​the​ ​area​ ​as​ ​the​ ​police​ ​sought​ ​to shut​ ​down​ ​polling​ ​places​ ​and​ ​arrest​ ​opposition​ ​leaders.​ ​Largely​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​extreme​ ​backlash from​ ​the​ ​Spanish​ ​Government,​ ​90 percent​ ​of​ ​participants​ ​voted​ ​to​ ​secede.

On​ ​Oct. ​27 ​Catalonia​ ​used​ ​the​ ​vote​ ​to​ ​unilaterally​ ​declare​ ​its​ ​independence​ ​from​ ​Spain and​ ​become​ ​its​ ​own​ ​sovereign​ ​nation.​ ​Currently,​ ​Spain​ ​is​ ​attempting​ ​to​ ​gain​ ​state​ ​control​ ​over Catalonia​ ​and​ ​the​ ​fate​ ​of​ ​the​ ​region​ ​is​ ​unclear.

Catalonia​ ​has​ ​no​ ​good​ ​options​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point.​ ​The​ ​Spanish​ ​government​ ​will​ ​never​ ​recognize Catalonia​ ​as​ ​an​ ​independent​ ​nation.​ ​The​ ​region​ ​makes​ ​up​ ​too​ ​much​ ​of​ ​the​ ​county’s​ ​economy.​ ​It would​ ​be​ ​like​ ​if​ ​both​ ​New​ ​York​ ​and​ ​California​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​and​ ​become their​ ​own​ ​countries.​ ​Any​ ​further​ ​attempt​ ​at​ ​cession​ ​would​ ​only​ ​bring​ ​about​ ​an​ ​armed​ ​conflict, one​ ​that​ ​Catalonia​ ​has​ ​no​ ​chance​ ​of​ ​winning. Even​ ​if​ ​for​ ​some​ ​reason​ ​Catalonia​ ​managed​ ​to​ ​gain​ ​full​ ​independence,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​unlikely​ ​that​ ​it​ ​would become​ ​a​ ​successful​ ​country.

For​ ​one,​ ​leaving​ ​Spain​ ​means​ ​leaving​ ​the​ ​European​ ​Union.​ ​This​ ​would​ ​be​ ​an​ ​economic​ ​blow since​ ​a​ ​large​ ​portion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​region’s​ ​wealth​ ​can​ ​be​ ​attributed​ ​to​ ​its​ ​involvement​ ​in​ ​the​ ​EU’s​ ​single market​ ​and​ ​the​ ​freedom​ ​of​ ​movement​ ​given​ ​to​ ​EU​ ​citizens.​ ​The​ ​new​ ​country​ ​would​ ​have​ ​to apply​ ​to​ ​become​ ​a​ ​member​ ​and​ ​that​ ​would​ ​be​ ​a​ ​lengthy​ ​process​ ​that​ ​is​ ​not​ ​guaranteed​ ​to​ ​be successful.

Many​ ​large​ ​businesses​ ​have​ ​already​ ​moved​ ​from​ ​the​ ​region​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​instability​ ​and​ ​in​ ​the unlikely​ ​chance​ ​of​ ​an​ ​independent​ ​Catalonia,​ ​any​ ​company​ ​that​ ​wants​ ​to​ ​do​ ​international business​ ​would​ ​likely​ ​relocate. The​ ​blow​ ​to​ ​their​ ​economy​ ​coupled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​significant​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​debt​ ​they​ ​owe​ ​to​ ​Spain​ ​would make​ ​it​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​fund​ ​things​ ​like​ ​border​ ​control,​ ​a​ ​military,​ ​central​ ​banking​ ​and​ ​international relations.​ ​All​ ​of​ ​these things​ ​are​ ​currently​ ​provided​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Spanish​ ​government​ ​and​ ​an​ ​independent Catalonia​ ​would​ ​have​ ​to​ ​start​ ​paying​ ​for​ ​them.

Catalonia​ ​has​ ​started​ ​something​ ​that​ ​there​ ​is​ ​no​ ​way​ ​they​ ​can​ ​finish​ ​and​ ​in​ ​turn​ ​have jeopardized​ ​the​ ​significant​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​autonomy​ ​they​ ​already​ ​had​ ​within​ ​the​ ​country.​ ​There​ ​are only​ ​a​ ​few​ ​possible​ ​outcomes​ ​for​ ​the​ ​region​ ​and​ ​none​ ​of​ ​them​ ​end​ ​well.

 

Stephen McAllister

Tags:  Catalonia Independence Spain

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