SPAIN: AT BREAKING POINT? A political and economic analysis for 2013 IBERIANS OF THE YEAR: The most influential people and groups of 2012


Iberians of the Year: 2012

Iberosphere’s shortlist of notable people or groups that, for better or for worse, have had a significant influence in different circles of Spanish or Portuguese life over the last 12 months.

Catalonia's Artur Mas

Artur Mas

Painful austerity, rampant unemployment, evictions, protests, turmoil in the eurozone and woefully ineffectual governments that have failed to convincingly offer even a glimmer of hope that things will get better any time soon. 2012 has been a year of ongoing tumult in Spain and Portugal.

What began as a financial and an economic crisis has become a financial, economic, social and political meltdown. It has been played out not just on debt markets and in corporate boardrooms but increasingly on the streets in the ongoing protests and in the growing ranks of the homeless. And, in recent months in Spain, in the highly flammable realm of domestic territorial politics.

Nowhere are the political consequences of the crisis more evident than in Catalonia. Anger at Madrid’s austerity measures and tax take, and a growing belief that Catalonia would be economically better off separate from Spain have fuelled a pro-independence fervour unparalleled in recent Catalan history.

And no one has done more to fuel it and channel it than Catalonia’s nationalist leader Artur Mas. In the recent regional elections he was humbled by voters chastising him for his own government’s economic policies and austerity measures. But his CiU party remains the dominant force in Catalan politics, while the more stridently separatist ERC have grown stronger.

Mas has placed Catalan independence at the heart of Spanish politics. Whether he or others will advance it further remains to be seen. But in germinating the seeds that could one day blossom into a new Iberian state, Mas, for better or for worse, has been the most prominent Iberian of the Year.

Artur Mas: Riding a wave of pro-independence fervour

For most of 2012, Catalonia was just one of many political concerns in the wing mirror of the Spanish government. But on September 11, as Catalonia celebrated its national day, hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of Barcelona, behind a banner calling for independence for the region: an outpouring of separatist feeling that surprised the world – and the rest of Spain… READ MORE

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