News, Politics

Why is there a crisis in Catalonia?

0 80

By Sara Khaliq

Catalonia is an autonomous community in North-Eastern Spain that consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. The term “autonomous community” is a normalised concept that explains how Spain is structured. Power is vested on a national level, but also in a devolved formation with each community entitled to a reasonable level of self- government. So, why does Catalonia face such conflicts of independence?

Catalonia’s status is a controversial subject that is often not addressed by organisations such as the European Union, as it harks to internal historical disputes which date back to the 13th century.

By the early 1200s, Catalonia had established its own institutions and during the Franco- Spanish war, Catalonia revolted. From that point on, a push and pull occurred between the Spanish government and the Catalans after Spain began attempting to suppress the institutions and autonomy of Catalonia.

However, there was a focal turning point in 1914 after Catalonia experienced mass industrialisation, which created a thriving economy and has, to this day, made Barcelona one of Europe’s largest industrial areas and a popular tourist destination. To put this into perspective, Catalonia makes up 16% of Spain’s population and generates 19% of the country’s GDP, making it an invaluable community in Spain. This is primarily the basis of the conflict – Catalans claim that calls for independence stem from the idea that Spain “robs” them, which highlights the economic autonomy that they crave.

Since the Spanish transition to democracy, in which the repressive Francoist dictatorship was overthrown, Catalonia has regained much of its self-governance. This, arguably, triggered widespread support for independence and made the “Catalan” identity more pronounced. They have their own language, culture and parliament, which feeds into how Catalans distinguish themselves from the Spanish and believe in a nation of their own, a mentality evident in the phrase coined by pro-independence Catalans: “We are Catalans first and Europeans second, but don’t call us Spanish.”

The 2017 referendum for independence demonstrated the overwhelming support for separatism, with 92% voting “yes” to the question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”. The referendum was deemed illegal by the Spanish government who claimed it was a breach of the constitution, which is where recent conflicts lie.

After Madrid imposed direct rule over Catalonia, seven ministers were prosecuted and the former president of Catalonia Charles Puigdemont was exiled, hence why the conflict is now at breaking point with neither side willing to compromise. Some 350,000 protesters gathered in Barcelona last week to demonstrate that the Catalan’s cause for independence is not going away, but igniting.

So, although Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez believes Separatists’ behaviour is “radical and violent”, it’s unclear so far what he will do about a cause that threatens to tear apart the formation of Spain.

About the author / 

Sara Khaliq

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • Dido & Aeneas and Orfeo ed Euridice @ Hope Mill Theatre review – an impressive double bill

    Featured image: City of Manchester Opera City of Manchester Opera presented their first double bill since 2019, featuring Dido and Aeneas and Orfeo ed Euridice at Hope Mill Theatre. Both performances were conducted by Musical Director Juan Oruño and directed by Artistic Director Nigel Machin. The Manchester-based company, comprised of professional, semi-professional and trained amateur…

  • Shirley Craven @ The Whitworth Art Gallery review – A celebration of colour and pattern

    Featured image: Elizabeth Clark After stepping into the stark white gallery space of The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, viewers venture blindly into the dimly lit exhibition rooms where Shirley Craven’s magnificent designs hang. Here, housed in the industrial red brick, the vibrant textile designs seem to leap off the walls, dancing and singing around…

  • Manchester Indian Film Festival: Creating TV Drama Series collaboration brings together the city’s creatives

    Featured image: Juan Pablo Cifuentes The ‘Creating TV Drama Series’ networking event brought together writers and industry professionals as part of the Manchester Indian Film Festival’s collaboration with Manchester Met. Hosted by the Manchester Writing School, it brought together staff and students from the School of Digital Arts (SODA) and Manchester School of Theatre (MST)…

  • What you need to know about the upcoming election

    Featured image: Elliott Stallion on Unsplash A rain-soaked Rishi Sunak took the news by storm on 22nd May, calling a general election on 4th July, 2024.  Although most of us know what a general action is, a quick synopsis is always useful. The general election is an opportunity to elect Members of Parliament to the House of…