Financial Times – Catalan with Spain’s future in his hands

It is rare, even in Spain, for parliament to be debating the whys and wherefores of the War of the Spanish Succession, commonly construed as a struggle over the balance of power in early 18th century Europe. It was not, Spanish government MPs pointed out to their Catalan counterparts this week, a war of secession, even if at its conclusion Catalonia, having gambled on the losing side, was stripped of the attributes of self-government. History is always alive in Spain.

Artur Mas, the president of the Catalan Generalitat, had just left a meeting in Madrid empty-handed – failing totally to negotiate a new fiscal pact with Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister. Inevitably, he said a “historic opportunity” to ensure Catalonia could still fit comfortably inside a plurinational Spain had been squandered. Back home in his own parliament in Barcelona, Mr Mas called a snap election that will surely turn into a proxy referendum on Catalan secession from Spain and – in case Madrid was not paying attention – Barcelona voted to call an actual plebiscite on Catalonia’s right to self-determination. A full-blown constitutional crisis, in which the survival of the Spanish nation-state within its present boundaries is at stake, will now collide head on with the eurozone and fiscal crises.

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