Catalonia is close to independence, despite Madrid
The greater the stubbornness of Spain’s centralists, the greater the determination of those who wish to build a free and full statehood.
By Alfred Bosch
I represent the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left in Spain’s Congress. Part of my job, therefore, is trying to explain and sustain our quest for social justice and for Catalan Freedom in the Spanish Parliament. It is not an easy job, not only because the two main Spanish parties are against such ideas, but also because they oppose the notion of self-determination itself.
In contrast to the Scottish/British scenario, the Catalan/Spanish issue could seem in deadlock, since Madrid does not allow Catalans to vote on their future. There have been a number of proposals for holding a referendum among citizens living in Catalonia to ask the people about independence in a future Catalan Republic. These have always been rejected on the grounds that the Spanish Constitution prevents such a move. We very much disagree; rules for holding referendums are clearly stipulated in the Spanish supreme law, and as for the content (i.e. asking for independence), it is hard to sustain its illegal condition, when members of parliament like myself are freely going to the ballots on a clearly separatist agenda.
The Spanish ban, however, persists, and while this fact makes the prospect of independence harder to plan and develop, it also gives extra fuel to the Freedom cause, since fewer and fewer Catalans are happy to live in a political jail which will not admit basic and fundamental rights. Up to date, the threats and bans have only increased popular support for independence. According to opinion polls, backing for a sovereign Catalan Nation-State has gone up from 15 percent to around 60 percent in less than a decade.
The latest ruling from the Spanish Constitutional Court, which suspended a recent declaration of sovereignty passed by the Catalan Parliament, is a clear example of the ongoing action/reaction environment; the reaction on the Catalan side, as far as parties and civic groups are concerned, has been of greater unity, greater determination and further opposition to Spanish hurdles. As was the case in the Baltic republics or the Central European experiences, democratic deficits end up being a central actor in the road to independence. As a result of extreme nationalism and intransigence in the seat of power, peripheral countries such as Catalonia can harbour discontent from quarters which initially might not support the liberation cause.
The current crisis further nourishes the feeling of imprisonment, mainly political but also economic, within the Kingdom of Spain. The Catalan economy is, despite the ongoing depression, a fairly solid and prosperous powerhouse, and the feeling that we are ruining our prospects by paying abusive Spanish bills is widespread. In times of wealth this feeling can be tolerated, but in times of scarcity it seems unbearable.
We are unable to predict how and when Catalonia will become independent, but we can clearly state that right now the path is open, plans are being drawn and accomplished, and there certainly is no turning back to the old times of dependence.
Alfred Bosch is spokesman in Spain’s Congress for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC).
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Published: May 16 2013
Category: Featured, Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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Tags: Alfred Bosch, catalan independence, ERC, spain, spain catalonia, spain economy, spain news, Spanish Constitutional Court