A Brief Analysis of Catalonia’s Independence Struggle.
All news outlets today are talking about Catalonia’s independence struggle.
It’s not a new issue, but it’s an old one with decades of historical tensions history. And the world today is just starting to learn about this struggle.
In this article, we’ll discuss the Catalonian struggle for independence. But we won’t be simply describing the situation in Spain.
We’re going to compare the struggle to another of recent history…
Catalonia: A Similar Situation to Slovenia.
Around 30 years ago, Slovenia had an independence struggle of its own.
It was a part of the old Communist Yugoslavia, which was eventually dissolved in the 90s. And it took a lot of effort and pain for Slovenia to gain its independence.
Struggles aside, Slovenia and Catalonia share similar motivations for independence. For example…
(1) Economic Struggle.
Slovenia was one of the most economically prosperous regions in old Yugoslavia. And having to pay to a higher (and communist) central government was a reason to split.
Catalonia shares a similar situation – without the Communism. It’s Spain’s most economically prosperous region, generating 19% of total Spanish GDP (1).
Having to fork over too much money to a failing government is always despicable. And it’s an important reason why the region wants to split off.
(2) Forced Assimilation.
Yugoslavia was a cut and paste of many cultures and countries. It had many official languages, and one of those was Slovenian.
Catalonia is in a similar situation. Historically, its culture is a little different from the dominant Castilian environment of Spain.
One of Catalonia’s official languages is Catalan. And this is spoken by close to 40% of the Catalonian population (as a main language).
The rest either speak it as a 2nd language, or never bother to use it.
This forced collective culture extends beyond differing languages too. In fact, Catalonia harbors a lot of resentment to the central government for decades of mistreatment.
20th Century Catalan Repression.
After the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, Francisco Franco took over as dictator of Spain.
From 1939 to 1975, his rule forced Catalonia to assimilate into Castilian Spain. This involved proactive repression of the Catalan language (public).
And also it involved repressing expressions of a cultural Catalan identity.
Having to experience something like that for 36 years is bound to create bitter memories. And those bitter memories still remain in the Catalan region to this day.
Triggering the Catalonian Referendums for Independence.
It’s been 40 years since the death of Francisco Franco. So logically, the tensions of repression should have subsided by now…
But this isn’t the case. Tensions have risen since 2014, with the current desires for self-governance.
We think this has to do with an important trigger factor, often overlooked by many analysts. That would be the 2008 global financial crisis.
Spain in the Global Financial Crisis.
One of the countries to get hit hard in 2008 was Spain.
Even to this day, Spain is recovering from the impacts of the financial crisis. And with extremely high unemployment rates and prices, tensions regarding everything began to flare.
Including cultural tensions…
Remember how we mentioned that Catalonia was a major earner for the Spanish economy?
Well, being a major earner means being a major source of tax money – without much returns.
This has obviously been a major source of bitterness for Catalans. And it’s an additional drive to leave the failing Spanish nation…
Catalonia’s Right to Independence.
Catalonia is a very prosperous state. And it would definitely accomplish a lot by breaking off Spanish rule.
Catalonia’s GDP per capita is higher than that of Spain in total.
In 2016, Spain’s total GDP per Capita was 24,000 euros. Catalonia’s GDP was 29,666 (2).
It’s also a major entrepreneurial and export hub of Spain. Over half of Spain’s startup businesses are in Catalonia. And over ¼ of Spain’s exports are Catalonian (3).
Also, there’s a great degree of solidarity among Catalans, with regards to independence.
In the 2014 referendum, Catalans showed desire for Catalonia to be a state, at a rate of 92%. Additionally, 80% showed a desire for independence, which is a very high value…
This was 3 years ago.
Clearly, Catalonia can manage itself better without Spain. And it can better use its own resources (and pass reforms) previously rejected by the Madrid government. This is coupled with a strong sense of solidarity.
Considering Catalonia’s differences and economic prosperity, it definitely has the right to break off. The ability to contribute higher than average means it’ll do well.