Catalan secessionism: More than just the economy (Policy Network)

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Catalan nationalism has been prevalent for a long time, but the current climate is strengthening calls for a showdown with central government in Madrid.

The recent upsurge of the secessionist movement in Catalonia is liable to over simplification. At a time when Spain’s economic situation is making the news day in, day out, the easy answer to the calls for Catalan secession is that it’s all about the crisis.

Indeed the crisis pervades the reading of every single political episode in the country these days, and it definitely has something to do with the sudden rise of the pro-independence movement. Yet the full story is much less straightforward – and probably much less compelling, too – than is usually heard from improvised accounts of the matter.

The recurrent argument goes like this:

As the country undergoes a severe economic recession, a growing number of Catalans –whose regional government was among the first to introduce harsh austerity measures in Spain – have become convinced that the negative imbalance between the region’s contribution to tax revenue and the public funds received from the state poses too high a burden on the region’s prospects for economic growth. Should Catalonia, by way of independence, be freed from this fiscal deficit, it would be much better off. Indeed, this rhetoric is openly endorsed by at least a portion of today’s separatists. The argument’s bottom line, thus, is that the crisis has undermined Catalans’ solidarity toward poorer regions, and so secessionism is mainly driven by economic concerns.

Even if there might be some truth to this, and rapid impoverishment has indeed moved some citizens to the independence camp, we feel that the economic crisis is less of a cause than it is a trigger, whose effects are as much felt for economic reasons as for political reasons.

Read @ Col·lectiu Emma