In the heat of the sun, thousands of people marched against the Spanish government in Barcelona, gathering and protesting for Catalan independence in the squares which populate the city. Each of them held high in the sky the flag of the Catalan region with red and orange stripes, and a blue triangle with a white star inside of it. This flag and the placards they were holding illustrated their desire to secede from Madrid and Rajoy’s big-C conservative government. This is now happening not just in Barcelona, but in many towns and villages across Catalonia as their separatist force gains apace under the leadership of Puigdemont.
Since Spain escaped the brutality of Franco 40 years ago, there has been a careful relationship between Spain and Catalonia. The relationship has been carefully cultivated thanks to mainly devolution and autonomy given to Catalonia in some policy areas, much like what we see in the UK with Scotland and Wales. However, since the illegal referendum on 1 October, which was won by the nationalist side, the referendum result has since led to confusion, violence and hysteria coming in a wave across Spain, and affecting wider Europe too. This has only been added to by the declaration of independence by Catalonia on 27 October, which will have unpredictable repercussions.
Catalonia, which has now declared itself independent from Spain, has its own language, culture and history. So, some would argue, why doesn’t it get statehood if they want to separate given the referendum victory for the separatist side and the declaration? However, its policies on what will happen now that it has left Madrid’s prying eyes are vague and unsubstantiated. Furthermore, the EU and other international organisations will not give it nation-statehood, given its potential to give rise to other movements around Europe. These other movements are the Scottish independence movement, in the form of the SNP (Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP minions) the Scottish Greens, and the pesky Italians in Veneto and Lombardy. Furthermore, Puigdemont’s Catalonian state will be marginalised and not in the EU, leaving it economically and politically liable to break and cause chaos in the wider region. There was supposedly to be support from Europe, for the idea that Catalonia was escaping the domineering Spanish government. However, it was divorcing one government only to be dominated by another body, the EU. The EU, like a Greek chef trying to turn plates on slim sticks, is trying to deal with the migrant crisis, Brexit and Catalonian independence. So, Puigdemont has only added to the EU’s inbox of problems to deal with, and, therefore will get little sympathy from them.
Nevertheless, it was not just the Catalonians who acted inappropriately in this divisive situation. Rajoy’s government should not have used violence, reminiscent of The Hunger Games series, with police officers caked in black hitting civilians with truncheons when they were trying to vote and protest. According to reports, 893 needed medical attention following the violence that erupted in the mass demonstrations. This is along with taking ballot boxes away and giving the Catalonians the impression of being a victim of the repressive government, only leading more to vote for Puigdemont’s independent state and the later declaration by the Catalonian Parliament.
This has only been added to with Rajoy’s government removing autonomy with Article 155, meaning it is in control of the region from centralised Madrid. The declaration of an independent state occurred on 27 October by the Parliament. These are extreme measures, which are only going to lead to increased tension and potential violence between the Spanish and the Catalonian governments’.
Moreover, both governments have dealt with the situation horribly, and would have been better off following David Cameron’s example of dealing with separatists by giving them a legal referendum, as in 2014 in Scotland, and accepting the result, whoever wins. In addition, using police violence to hasten the restoration of order should be avoided as it only exacerbates the sense of victimhood and wins more sympathy and votes to the side of the separatists.