While in South Sudan they have just celebrated a referendum of independence in Catalonia we are still hemming and hawing.
The Spanish dream is over, the awakening is hard to accept and the Spanish government must look for an inner scapegoat to divert the public focus from the painful reforms they should have started years ago. Predictably, they have put the Autonomous Communities (amongst them Catalonia) in the spotlight.
Back when Franco died and the monarchy was restored in the 70s the Spanish devised a cunning plan to give the non Spanish nations within the Spanish state some degree of self government but at the same time keeping them under control, so they also gave every Spanish region the same degree of self government. This way whenever Catalonia, The Basque Country or Galicia asked for a greater degree of self government it could always be denied based on the grounds that then the regions would want the same. Also the Spanish always reserved the right to claim back any parts of that self government that they wanted since , as things stand right now, self government is a gracious concession of the Spanish not a right of the nations and they reserve the right to override any decisions they don’t like.
Now Spanish president Zapatero and the Spanish ex-president Aznar are preparing the grounds to use the crisis as an excuse to do what they’ve been wanting to do for a long time but couldn’t figure out how to until now: to further assimilate Catalonia within Spain. Arguing that the autonomous communities aren’t sustainable and there’s a need to reduce expenses they say they want to re-centralise Spain. They forget to mention that most of the debt is created by the Spanish Government (The Autonomous Communities currently have a debt of 105.000 million euros while the Spanish State has 541.000 millions, as reported by a Spanish financial magazine) or that Catalonia’s financial situation is this bad precisely because the Spanish Government inflicts it with a fiscal plundering of its 10% GDP every year.
On the other hand the Catalan leaders, Mas and Duran have replied saying that Catalonia won’t accept any cutbacks in self-government. Duran agrees that probably not all 17 Autonomous Communities need to exist but Catalonia is out of the question.
I, on the other hand, am more inclined to think that the layer Catalonia needs to get rid of in order to improve its finances is the Spanish State and this way to simplify things and be much more efficient. We have interesting times ahead of us, no doubt about it.
I’m curious to know what do Mas and Duran plan to do when the Spanish start issuing decrees claiming chunks of self-government back because really there won’t be absolutely anything they will be able to do to stop them, except declare independence, of course. In the meantime, I’ll go back to read about what’s going on in South Sudan.