Catalonia Independence and Spain. The Reasons Why.


Catalonia Independence. As you may be aware there is an on-going debate in Cataluña (and the rest of Spain) in which around 57% of the population of Catalonia want independence from Spain.

Cataluña isn’t the only region to want their independence, el País Vasco, too, wishes to be separate from Spain whilst in other parts of Europe there are several countries that are fighting for their own independence. (Scotland, Wales, Flanders, Madeira, etc.)

This desire for independence started with the Régimen franquista (1936-1975), in which the Catalonian language (catalán) (along with the rest of the languages in Spain apart from Castilian) was banned in public, resulting in the suppression of their autonomy and culture.

In 1979 Catalonia was recognised as a “nationality”, giving them a statute of autonomy once again. El catalán was then accepted as Catalonia’s official language, along with Castilian Spanish.

Other reasons for the desire to become independent are that some Catalonians believe they do not share cultural ties with the rest of Spain: there is no flamenco, bullfighting has been banned and they have their own customs. Of course, in addition to the cultural considerations, the independence of Catalonia would potentially create for them many financial benefits.

The issue is, however, that the other 43% of the population in Cataluña  do not wish to be separate from Spain as they actually consider themselves to be Spanish. This could be because of the situation in which Cataluña enjoys a wide variety of immigrants, particularly those from Andalucía, Extremadura and Murcia who arrived there in search of work some generations ago and who feel as much catalanes as they do españoles.

On Spain’s National Day around 30,000 people attended a platform in Cataluña to launch the message: ‘We feel proud to be Spanish.  We claim our roots, history, memories, the richness of our language, our reality and our life’.

Their wish for Catalonia independence is understandable from the standpoint of their many cultural differences. However, the question is whether their reasoning is coming mostly from what could be called a “moving away” perspective or one of “moving towards”.

What that means is that perhaps it’s true and they really feel no sincere connection with the rest of Spain, nor its culture or its people and simply want to move toward a situation in which they can be themselves. Or, is it actually the case that they want independence because of a feeling of hatred towards the rest of Spain, the Spanish language and everything Spain stands for (for better or worse) and are moving away from what they don’t want?

And so, we might ask, if Catalonia finally was granted their independence, how would that affect other countries like Scotland and Wales who find themselves in the same position? Would this be the inspiration for other countries to begin to fight more aggressively for their independence?

Cynthia Smith-Durán.