Financial Times – Spain must steer away from a collision course


Madrid needs to act fast over the Catalonia separatist question.

The tug of war between Barcelona and Madrid about how or whether Catalonia fits into the Spanish state has reached a climax which threatens to engulf Spain in a devastating crisis. Paradoxically, Scotland’s referendum last month, in which 55 per cent of those who voted preferred to stay in the UK, has probably made Spain’s situation worse, despite Madrid’s relief that the separatists lost.
Artur Mas, president of the autonomous Catalan government, has gone ahead with plans for a plebiscite on independence on November 9. Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, responded by going to the constitutional court, which has suspended the vote. The constitution enshrines the “indissoluble unity” of the Spanish state and most scholars agree that the planned referendum – though non-binding – would be illegal under Spain’s basic law. The Catalonia question is fast becoming a poisonous identity conflict that will soon have no winners. Intransigence by Madrid and adventurism in Barcelona will result in a train crash.

Mr Mas, whose mainstream nationalist government has been outflanked by republican separatists, is nevertheless fulfilling the wish of almost 70 per cent of the Catalan parliament. The parliament has a narrow separatist majority but a larger quorum determined that Catalans have the right to vote on their future as the Scots did.

With Mr Mas being led by proliferating grassroots movements for Catalan “sovereignty”, and Mr Rajoy and his rightwing Partido Popular (PP) serving as their recruiting sergeant, the prospect of finding common ground looks remote. Yet both sides should make the effort. This is a political problem that requires a political answer.

Read @ Financial Times

One Response to Financial Times – Spain must steer away from a collision course

  1. “Both sides should make the effort” The problem with this statement is that Catalonia has constantly being making an effort over the last 300 years to find its place in Spain. The last notable failure was the rejection of the Catalan statute by a politically motivated Constitutional Court. Since then Catalans have asked for a pact to have a fairer share of our taxes returned to us and for the government to keep its pledge to give us money owned for infrastructures. All to no avail.The Catalans have come to the conclusion that no meaningful dialogue can be held with Spain. Dialogue just means having doors slammed in our face. And if you find this difficult to accept, just think of the Spanish government intransigent stance on Gibraltar.

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