The Catalonian regional government has announced another referendum for independence to be held on October 1st of this year. But already the Spanish government has said that it will not respect the result.
This is not the first time Catalans have voted over the question of independence. On November 9th, 2014 a referendum was held where 80% of the Catalonian population voted in favor of secession from the Spanish state. When a plan was put forward, the constitutional court overruled it. Catalonia is now in a position where it has asserted its aspirations for independence through democratic means, and the state has told them it was invalid.
Catalonia is a region of Spain located in the northeast most corner, bordering France. It has been a part of the Spain since the 1400s, but still maintains its own language, culture, and history that are distinctly Catalan. Its capital, Barcelona is the cultural hub of the region and brings in a large portion of the region’s tourism. The sports pride of this region is the Barcelona team, and one threat that the Spanish state has made is that if Catalonia secedes, Barcelona would be kicked out of the national Football league. The reason Spain is so against an independent state is that they contribute too much to the economy. Losing Catalonia would hurt Spain’s ability to pay off its outstanding debt.
Catalans make up just 16% of Spain’s population, and yet the region accounts for 20% of the country’s economic output. Besides this, the region also pays the highest income tax rates in the country.
Yet, Catalonia has not even received 10% of the government’s investment budget in the past few years. This is the real driver of the independence movement, and has fueled it in the last few years. The common feeling among the people in this region is that they are giving a lot more than they are getting in return.
That their tax dollars are being used to build roads and other infrastructure in other regions, when its own infrastructure is so in need. The Catalonian government is that the national government wants them to be part of Spain to reap the economic rewards, but they are not providing basic services.
Ultimately, this referendum will have little effect on the Spanish government’s policy on Catalonia. It will produce a result of overwhelming majority supporting independence, and the national government condemning it. Right now for Spain., it is all about the economics and Catalonia is just worth far too much.
As long as Spain stays in a tough economic situation, the likelihood that Catalonia becomes independent remains very low. I do support an independent Catalonia, but the reality is that it just worth too much for Spain to let it go.