Separatism in Catalonia: What does it teach us?

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Giorgi Inalishvili


After the end of the Cold War, the idea of self-determination of nations in Europe re-gained popularity. With the strengthening of liberal democracy in Western European countries, the strengthening of separatist, secessionist forces has also become apparent.

In the recent years, the world’s attention has focused on Spain, where Catalonia is trying to gain independence. 43% of voters took part in the illegal referendum on October 1, 2017, 92% of which supported the independence of Catalonia. In response to the start of separatist process, Spanish Senate supported the enactment of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, on the basis of which Spanish Prime Minister ousted the President of Catalonia, the Government, dissolved the Autonomous Parliament of Catalonia and called early elections.

The purpose of this article is to determine what historical, cultural or other factors contributed to the development of such processes. The methods and means that ultimately encouraged separatism varied from period to period. At first the Catalans demanded the restoration of autonomous rights. The First Spanish Republic (1873-74) was led by 2 Catalan politicians and the issue of creating a confederation was raised from them. In the last years of the Second Republic, during the Spanish Civil War, the country’s republican center was Barcelona - the President of Catalonia, Luis Companys, actively fought against the Nationalists to defend Republican Spain. For 23 years after the Franco dictatorship, the President of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, pursued a nationalist policy. Methods have changed since 2010 - the illegal referendum held on 1 October 2017, followed by the declaration of independence by the Catalan Parliament. This was the most extreme step taken by the separatist forces.

According to statistics, Catalonia is the one of the most developed, richest and advanced region of Spain. One of the main slogans of the separatist movements has been the phrase “Spain robs us” - emphasizing that the Spanish central government receives more funding from Catalonia than returns it, and the difference is directed to less developed regions. The main voices of such accusations are often high-ranking Catalan officials and leaders of powerful civil society organizations. Together, these people form an elite that has been effectively mobilizing supporters over the years to deliver the desired messages to both the Spanish central government and the international community.

Catalan Separatism, International Relations, Spanish Politics, Independence, Autonomy
Published: Sep 26, 2022

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