CBC – From Scotland to Catalonia, Europe’s sovereignty-association moment

The appetite for independence in Europe today, in small nations encased in larger countries, brings together the following: a long memory, a sense of grievance and a talent for overblown rhetoric.

Mayor Carles Puigdemont of Girona, in northern Catalonia, knitted all three into one sentence: “These elections are not just the most important of our lives, they’re the most important of the past three centuries.” In that declaration, rhetoric and memory need little explanation. The sense of grievance takes us back to 1714 when, after a siege of 11 months, the forces of Philip V of Spain finally took Barcelona, Catalonia’s treasure. The region, the mayor believes, has been suffering ever since.

The mayor is also the president of the Assembly of Municipalities for Independence in Catalonia and the results of Sunday’s regional elections are certain to have pleased him. For the first time, parties with a clear majority of seats in the Catalonian legislature are in favour of a referendum on Catalonian independence, something that is now expected within the next four years. That’s because Artur Mas, the leader of the biggest party in Catalonia, the nationalist but conservative Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), suddenly reversed field this fall, calling early elections and promising just such a referendum, which he had previously opposed.

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