Politics

Independentisme Catala – the race for independence

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Tensions mount in Spain as Madrid declares the Catalonian referendum illegal. Credit: The Telegraph

As October edges closer, the political scene across Europe will once again be shaken up with Catalonia holding a referendum on independence.

This event has long been brewing, with countless protests, mini referendums, and media frenzy.

The independence referendum could lead the way for other states to follow suit, a trend that has become prominent in Europe since Brexit was announced.

If you are unaware of the history of Catalonia, this referendum is crucial as Catalonia is currently part of Spain, but the state of Catalonia itself was created in 1922 when Francesc Macia founded ‘estat catala’.

During the Spanish wars, the country was autonomous within Spain, rather than an independent country.

Despite that, Catalonia is a vibrant nation, with its own language being Catalan, a wealthy nation with an elite class and Catalan nationalism spreading widely and, of course, home of one of the leading football teams of the world, FC Barcelona.

Previous articles from UK sources in 2014 suggest that over 80% of Catalans want independence. That is a landslide majority and could hand over powers such as taxation and spending over to the people of Catalonia. However, Catalan media are all over the place.

Newspapers such as El Periódico and La Vanguardia have posted survey results and they differ greatly between themselves. This leads to the question, will the referendum create a more fractured nation than ever?

Catalonia has four provinces, and Barcelona being one of them, is also the capital. Barcelona is the second biggest municipality in Spain, and holds high esteem in terms of football, being home of FC Barcelona – the second most valuable sports team in the world and the second richest football team in terms of revenue. (If that isn’t impressive, what is?)

Barca are in an awkward situation, they have huge political influence, and many fans are for independence. Will they still be able to play in La Liga, Spain’s football league?

The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, has said that Barcelona would not be allowed to play in the league (and other clubs of Catalonia) if Catalonia vote yes for independence.

Mr Tebas himself is a controversial figure, a right-wing supporter from the 80s, fan of Marine Le Pen, and a very outspoken man within FIFA and the world of football – the latest Manchester City and Paris St Germain financial controversy comes to mind.

Of course, we cannot let the fact that he is a Real Madrid fan himself escape our minds.

Arguments for and against Catalonian independence are everywhere. Some arguments for independence are that Catalonia is not Spain. They are defined by their own culture, rich histories, and flags. They speak their own tongues and want different things from each other.

Of course, nationalism itself is a controversial term – what defines a nation versus the good and bad side.

Another reason is the unequal partnership. Catalans contribute over €17 billion of taxes to Madrid, yet they have very little say in their decisions in government. Independence will allow Catalonia to take control of its own economic future – a reason the SNP used in Scotland as a case for independence from rUK.

With even more reason – the people’s choice. Its undemocratic not to hold a referendum. The people of Spain and Catalonia, as well as Europe deserve to see what the people want. Isn’t that what the European Union and its nations pride themselves on – democracy?

Of course, there are key arguments against an independent nation. Europe needs solidarity with its nations. It is no use to be fractured and fighting with each other.

Yet, as we can see, the EU is beginning to lose its power and stability. The UK has decided to leave Europe. Catalonia are vying for independence. The people of Italy are demanding a referendum.

Another reason is that Catalonia would be left with extreme debt than before. That is the last thing a country needs, yet we can see in Europe the effect debt has on countries. Take Greece as an example.

Yet, under Spain, that debt is more controlled and Catalonia have somewhere to fall back on.

Famous names have taken their sides for the Catalan referendum. Pep Guardiola, former Barca player and now Man City coach, is pro-independence.

Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, sent a message of support from Ireland. Gerard Pique is another football player who wants independence for Catalonia.

On the other side of the coin, political leaders such Barack Obama and Angela Merkel have opposed the call for independence.

October 1 is not far away, and after so much drama within the Spanish Parliament still occurring, the Catalonian government launched its official campaign for an independence referendum on September 14.

Madrid has declared the referendum illegal.

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