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Regional Stability

Rethinking Secession: Why Spain and Catalonia Should Not Take Stability for Granted

Secessionist statement on a mural in Vilassar de Mar, Catalonia. Image: 1997/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by LSE EUROPP, a blog hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science, on 2 October, 2015.

Catalonia’s independence movement secured a majority of seats in the regional parliament on 27 September, but fell short of winning an outright majority of the vote. The result strengthened the case for a referendum, which Madrid has for long rejected, but weakened the case for independence: after years of campaigning and mobilising Catalans, the pro-independence camp is still unable to secure half the regional vote.

The path to independence will remain a long, contentious and indeed controversial one. But what lessons can Spain draw from other secessionist movements around the world? The primary lesson is that secession, whether it takes place in Europe, the Middle East or Africa, in industrialised democratic countries or war-torn developing countries, tends to bring more problems than it solves.

Categories
Government

Catalonia: Independence from Spain to Do What?

Pro-independence rally on Via Laietana on September 11, 2012. Photo: Lohen11/Wikimedia Commons

On November 25th Catalonians headed to the polls for a snap regional election. The polls were staged just two months after a massive pro-independence rally took place in Barcelona. Voter turnout peaked at almost 70%, the highest in 30 years, and the four political parties committed to holding a referendum on self-determination (CiU-ERC-ICV-CUP) got more than twice as many seats as those defending the status quo (PSC-PP-C). Crucially, both of Catalonia’s major parties – the governing center-right CiU and socialist PSC – suffered severe setbacks.

Accordingly, it appears that Catalonia is now set to hold a referendum on its ties to the rest of Spain, and that it does not trust its major political parties to steer the process.