Drawing a Road Map for Catalonia
A new regional government is now in place in Catalonia. Like many other administrations in Europe these days, it will have a hard time providing an adequate level of services to its citizens while it strives to help a battered economy get back on the right track. With an added handicap: it has to deal with a Spanish government that won’t make either of these tasks any easier. Never mind that Catalonia is a productive society and a vital contributor to the State’s finances. The central government retains control over the public purse and deals out or withholds funds mainly as a way of furthering its own political agenda. And every message coming from Madrid shows that it plans to make full use of this leverage to curb the Catalans’ freedom of action, combining the financial stranglehold with relentless attacks on their language and culture, including the educational system, in an effort to erase all signs of their collective personality.
In these circumstances, it is not surprising that a substantial majority of Catalans should at least doubt the convenience of remaining a Spanish province. This was made clear by the results of the November 25 election, in which holding a popular referendum on independence was the winning coalition’s central promise. As of today, the idea has the support of almost two-thirds of Parliament, confirming what earlier opinion polls had been indicating: regardless of their eventual choice, around 80 per cent of Catalans agree to be consulted in a public vote on the option of disengaging themselves from the political entity to which they now belong.
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