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Crisis in Catalonia… Story by Isaac Solly

On October 1st, the Spanish province Catalonia held an independence referendum that had been condoned by the Spanish government, and divided Catalan society. At hand was the question of whether or not the province should become an independent country, though the results were non-binding. Though 90% of voters supported independence, showing was particularly poor at only 43%. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is an ardent supporter of independence, and threatened to declare it within days. Up to now, however, there has not been any declaration.

Independence Rallies… There have been many rallies advocating for independence since the referendum. Photo By: Daily Express.
Independence Rallies… There have been many rallies advocating for independence since the referendum. Photo By: Daily Express.

On Election Day, over 900 voters were reported to have been injured by the Spanish police, who tried to seize voting stations and results. This was critical for two reasons—firstly, the Spanish government does not intend to let go of Catalonia, as it is one of their richest provinces. An article in the Spanish constitution outlines that secession of a Spanish province is illegal, and the government is acting on that mandate to try and stop the Catalan parliament.

Secondly, Catalonia is already semi-autonomous, and runs many of its public services separate from the Spanish government. It is not the only case of autonomy in Spain—other regions such as Basque Country in the north run with similar leeway. However, the Spanish government used its police in place of the Catalan police, and has also threatened to suspend the Catalan parliament.

Financing Secession… Catalonia, in the northeast of Spain, is a wealthy region and could probably survive economically. Photo By: BBC News.
Financing Secession… Catalonia, in the northeast of Spain, is a wealthy region and could probably survive economically. Photo By: BBC News.

To try and get some international support, Catalan leaders have looked out to the EU, but have not got much positive feedback. Both the EU parliament and individual countries such as France said they would not recognize a declaration of independence, and that Catalonia would not automatically be admitted to the EU should it secede (some leaders have condoned the use of violence, however).

Catalonia could probably finance independence, as it is a richer part of Spain, and has a fourth of Spain’s exports with a fifth of it’s population. Recently, Puigdemont has delayed any declaration of independence and said that he was open to negotiation with the Spanish government. This is probably because he has been humbled by Pro-Spain unity rallies in Barcelona over the weekend, further weakening his mandate to speak for all of Catalonia.

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