On October 1st, Catalonia Spain undertook a referendum asking voters if they wanted their region to become independent from Spain and embrace a future as a republic. The result of this has Sparked global debate. So what is Catalonia? What right do they have to independence? And how could they gain it?
Firstly, what and where is Catalonia?
Catalonia a northern region of Spain located just under France that slightly resembles a sideways wizard’s hat. The popular Spanish tourist city of Barcelona sits within this region.
Why do they want independence and what right do they have to it?
The region was embraced into modern Spain in the early 1700s but continuously rejected Spanish laws and language. After a period of time, they were allowed to govern themselves to a certain degree but there was a growing sense of nationalism.
In 2010 Madrid overruled claims that there was no legal basis for recognising the nation as a part of Spain.
Spain’s troubling economy has moved some towards independence. As a wealthier region it would have less trouble supporting itself and boasts low unemployment rates. While Catalan is not recognised as part of the European Union’s 24 offical languages it is still widely spoken and understood in Europe meaning language would not pose a significant barrier for relations if they were to seperate.
The offical Spanish view (and counter argument) however…
Does not acknowledge the referendum results and does not want to grant Catalonia independence. As previously mentioned, the area is one of the more wealthy ones in the country and is a strong industrial hub for them. Catalonia is also responsible for over half of the country’s start up investments and a quarter of exportation goods.
In an economical crisis, losing Catalonia could have significant consequences on the rest of the country.
So what now?
Currently Madrid is unwilling to negotiate with Catalan over the result.
Catalan do have options such as making a formal declaration of independence but they still face the issue of being internationally recognised by other countries and organisations (such as UN).
Being internationally recognised is an important factor and some countries such as France have already stated they would not recognise them.