Why do many Catalans want to secede from Spain?

There are many of reasons why Catalonia considers itself different  from the rest of Spain and has made repeated calls for independence.  Here's a quick run through of some reasons for Catalan independence  knocked out without too much thought.

Following  the invasion of the Iberian peninsula by the Moors in 711, the  Christian 'reconquest' of the north-eastern coastline was begun by the  Franks and the Catalan counties were originally a buffer zone between  Christian and Muslim territory known as the Marca Hispanica.

Most  of this territory became hereditary under Wilfred the Hairy of the House  of Barcelona in 897, declared independence from the Franks under  Borrell II in 988 and was grouped together Ramon Berenguer IV when he  married the Aragonese heiress Petronila in 1137 and became Prince Regent  of Aragon.

Their son Alfons became King of Aragon but the  Principality of Catalonia retained its laws, charters and political  institutions until after the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714 when  all of the Crown of Aragon was annexed by force by the Crown of Castile  and Spain began to exist as we know it.

Since the mid-19th century  increased autonomy and independence have been a permanent source of  tension between Catalonia and the Spanish government in Madrid.

Located  in the north-east corner of the Iberian Peninsula between the Pyrenees  and the Mediterranean, Catalonia has always been a strategic passageway  between France and Spain and has not only received cultural influences  but has also been invaded from both the north and south.

It has  also always been open influence from the sea. The Greeks founded  Emporion, the Romans made Tarragona their capital and Barcelona has long  been one the Mediterranean's most cosmopolitan cities and an important  trading capital for centuries.

In fact, Barcelona is still the  capital of a European megaregion that begins at Marseille and stretches  down to Valencia and is quite distinct economically from the rest of the  Iberian peninsula.

Catalan was one of the  first languages to develop out of Vulgar Latin and has almost as much in  common with modern French and Italian as it does with modern Spanish.

Its earliest written text, the Homilies d'Organyà, dates from the 11th century but it was a vernacular language long before.

Catalan  is not a minority language but rather a stateless one and is spoken as a  mother tongue by around 9.5 million people mainly in Catalonia, the  Balearic Island, Valencia and the French region of Rousillon.

Not  surprisingly, Catalans feel that the 14th most spoken language in the  European Union should have the support of its own state.

Obviously  speaking the same language is an important unifying factor but there  are other cultural differences that distinguish Catalans from other  Spaniards.

They have a reputation for being hard-working and mean  probably because of their mercantile history and the fact that Catalonia  was one of the few places to undergo the industrial revolution.

Catalans  are also very group-oriented and have clubs for everything from  collecting mushrooms to football supporting. The first peñas or  supporters' clubs in Spain were Catalan, their famous human  castle-building involves incredible teamwork and even their national  Sardana dances has people forming ordered circles whereas passionate  flamenco is much more individualistic.

The Spanish national sport of bullfighting was declared illegal by the Catalan Parliament in 2010.

Catalonia  suffers a tax deficit with respect to the Spanish state of around 8% of  its GDP which in 2010 amounted to €16,000,000,000 of Catalan taxes that  were paid to Madrid and not reinvested in Catalonia. This makes  Catalonia the most highly taxed region in Europe and its schools, health  services, roads and infrastructures are suffering in comparison to  supposedly poorer regions of Spain.

Furthermore, many decisions taken by central government have negative effects on the local economy. Here are two examples.

Barcelona  Airport despite being Spain's busiest airport some months of the year  still has no metro connection, a very poor train service and out of date  roads whilst Madrid Barajas has train, metro, new roads and there are  plans for a high-speed AVE connection. AENA, the central airport  authority, also prioritises intercontinental flights to Madrid meaning  there are no direct flights from many destinations to Barcelona, which  has a detrimental effect on multinational business in Catalonia.

The  Port of Barcelona is one of the busiest in Europe and is so profitable  it subsidises other Spanish ports that run at a loss. The Port of  Barcelona would be even more successful if it had a freight railway line  that could take goods north into Europe because ships from Asia that  currently dock in Rotterdam could access the Mediterranean via the Suez  Canal. Both Catalonia and the EU have been lobbying for the so-called  Mediterranean Corridor, which would also benefit Valencia, Cartagena,  Malaga and Algeciras, but central government has blocked the  Mediterranean Corridor for years because it doesn't pass through Madrid.

And Finally
If Catalonia is such an important part of Spain, why doesn't the Vuelta de España cycle race ever come here?
Catalonia is perfect cycling territory with flat plains and Pyrenean mountain ranges and regularly hosts the Tour de France!

I'm currently writing a book on the history of the relations between Catalonia and Spain with a deliberately provocative title

Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective

And you can find out more in general on my blog

Page on barcelonas.com

19 Replies to “Why do many Catalans want to secede from Spain?”

  1. The main reason why I support independence is because I perceive that the Spanish government does not represent me or my interests, and sometimes is deliberately hostile.

    I’ll give a few examples:

    Example 1, Catalan as an official language for the EU: The only requirement for a language to be official in the EU is a petition by the government of the country where the language is spoken. Catalonia has repeatedly asked the Spanish government to petition the officiality of Catalan in the EU, but we’ve been always told [by the Spanish government] to essentially go fuck ourselves, though we have more speakers than Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Croatian, Latvian or Finnish for example, which are official languages. As a consequence, I cannot speak my language to the European Union (to which I theoretically belong), because “my” government refuses to stand in my behalf.

    Example 2, Sabotage of Asian tourism in Barcelona: The Spanish government refuses permits to airlines wishing to establish direct flights between Asian capitals and Barcelona, requesting the airlines to fly to Madrid instead, to bring business there. This makes people feel like the government is deliberately hurting one of our key industries.

    Example 3, Poor condition of Spanish infrastructure in Catalonia: Catalonia is home to railway networks run by the local government (FGC) and the Spanish government (ADIF). Those run by the Spanish government are in a state of utter disrepair, with frequent delays exceeding 30 minutes, and sometimes several hours (The Catalan ones are comparable to railways in Switzerland, punctuality-wise). ADIF spends copious amounts of money keeping Madrid’s railway in pristine condition, in spite of Catalonia contributing a similar amount in taxes. There is a perception that this hurts the local economy and industry. These complains are often described as “lacking solidarity”, however Madrid is a rich region. Compulsory “solidarity” towards very rich people is not solidarity [Note 1].

    Example 4, Using the constitutional court to suppress any initiative from the Catalan parliament: The Spanish government has systematically used the consitutional court to block Catalan legislation. Laws get suspended as soon as proceedings are started, then the court sits on the matter forever, keeping the law permanently blocked even though it may not actually be unconstitutional to begin with. Examples of laws that have been suspended include a law intended to provide subsidies to unemployed people who cannot afford electricity bills, and a law trying to make evictions harder (to give some leeway to those struggling with mortgage payments). Ironically, the Spanish constitution contains the quote:

    Todos los españoles tienen derecho a disfrutar de una vivienda digna y adecuada.

    Which translates to:

    All Spaniards have the right to enjoy dignified and suitable dwelling

    I see a lot of homeless people and no politician gets beaten for violating this law. However, experts in the exegesis of the Spanish constitution seem to agree that this quote is supposed to be “metaphorical”.

    This does not limit to the use of the constitutional court. For example, the Catalan government passed a law banning bullfighting (because it was considered barbarian), and the Spanish government quickly passed a law that declared bullfighting a protected cultural heritage that could not be banned by regional governments, essentially rendering the Catalan law invalid within weeks of passing.

    Example 5, Laws that ostrasize the Catalan culture: For example, Spanish education laws systemmatically try to enforce more hours of Spanish-language lectures, in place of lectures in Catalan [Right now in Catalonia all classes except Spanish and English are taught in Catalan]. This is interpreted as an intentional effort to make the local culture irrelevant, creating an homogeneous nation by suppresing minority cultures. Some voters in Spanish-speaking regions seem to be very fond of these efforts.

    These are only examples, but similar things happen every day. I don’t seek independence because the trains are late. The train tracks being in disrepair is an example of a pattern where the government of Spain does not represent -or is overtly hostile to- Catalonia, a trend that has existed systematically since Spain’s foundation.

    Additionally, there is the perception that recently Spain has taken an authoritarian turn. In Spain, taking pictures of police officers or distributing them online is now illegal. People have been sentenced to a year in jail for making twitter jokes about a member of Franco’s dictatorship [note 2] who was assasinated more than 40 years ago. This is like going to jail for making a Saddam Hussein joke, literally. On the other hand, people making threatening comments towards Catalan people are typically ignored, we’re just told to toughen it up. Another example of the Spanish government devotion to authoritarianism: a couple years ago they celebrated a homage (In Barcelona!) to members of the “División Azul”, “Blue Division”, volunteer soliders who went to help Hitler fight against the Soviets. See this old dude in the photo [Note 3], the one getting a diploma from the Spanish government? Is an actual Nazi (A legit one, not somebody I disagree with). Wanna join Spain?

    My feelings towards Spain are similar to those towards an abusive partner. The government of Spain has a sordid history, with a 40 years long military dictatorship, preceeded by 6 years of democracy and more military dictatorships and other undesirable, authoritarian forms of government. During many years the Catalan language has ranged from banned to ostrasized, and there have been executions of Catalan (peaceful) activists well into the XX century. The discourse of Spain sounds to me like “Ok, we really love you and don’t want you to leave, because we love you, and we are not going to beat you any more, unless you want to leave, of course, then get ready for the beating of your life”. Enticing?

    For me, in an emotional sense, the independence has already happened. I would never sacrifice much or go to war for Spain. I don’t feel happy paying taxes to build Spain.

    Disclaimer: I describe myself as a “Random Catalan”. That’s a very precise description. I don’t have a history degree or hold a political office, and I represent no-one’s opinion but my own. In Catalonia there’s people who want independence for other reasons, and people who don’t want independence at all.

    Note 1: The topic of solidarity is particularly thorny. I’m not opposed to the idea of helping poorer regions modernise themselves, so they don’t need solidarity anymore. But I loathe government waste. For example, Spain has the biggest high speed railway network in Europe. This is brutally expensive (~50 billion), built by the governing parties’ cronies, is not necessarily much faster than well-maintained, conventional railways and it’s more of a monument to the “greatness of Spain” than something of actual public value. I feel that my taxes support a lot of wasteful spending and very little “solidarity” actually makes it to the right place. In a country where 30-40% of young people are unemployed, I see the Spanish government’s fondness for frivolous spending of other people’s money as an existential threat.

    Note 2: The politician was Carrero Blanco. His car was blown up with such a powerful device, that it ended up flying over a building. The jokes were like “Today we celebrate Carrero Blanco’s effort to reduce the use of government cars, and the beginning of the Spanish space program”. See Los 13 tuits por los que ha sido condenada Cassandra a un año de prisión [In Spanish] Also, this is only an example. If you want another one, see Dos titiriteros, detenidos por hacer apología del terrorismo [In Spanish]. These went to jail because one of the characters in their puppet show had a poster with a reference to a fictional criminal organization called Alka-Eta. This is like jailing the producer of James Bond because it promotes the fictional criminal organization Spectre.

    Note 3: See La delegada del Gobierno en Cataluña entrega un diploma a la División Azul [in Spanish].

  2. Many of the answers posted here demonstrate the key features of modern European nationalist movements: A. They point to a region’s historical and cultural idiosyncrasies as justification for secession. B. They insist that the central/federal/national authority is illegitimate in its attempts to rule over them, appealing to the notion of legitimate local government to cast the central authority in a negative light.

    From a legal and historical perspective, these movements tend to be poorly-reasoned. Plainly stated, the secessionist movement in Catalonia is illegal. Let me break down why I think Catalan nationalists are misguided:

    1. Catalonia is legally and constitutionally part of the Kingdom of Spain. When the government in Madrid objects to a local referendum regarding secession, it has a constitutional mandate to do so. There are three key documents that make Catalonia a legal part of the Kingdom of Spain: The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (1932) was drafted within the Catalan Generalitat and passed into law by the Spanish Parliament. Franco’s forces crushed the Catalan authorities shortly after this law was passed, but it was reinstated after the Francoist era by the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (1979). This statute was again updated in 2006 and passed by referendum in Catalonia. A huge protest erupted in Barcelona after the Constitutional Court of Spain modified several articles of the statue to bring it into accord with the Spanish Constitution. What the protesters seemed to miss was the years-long legal process of incorporating Catalonia into the Spanish state, which took place through previous processes of government by consent. This legal history is as much a part of their heritage as their language or art; they inherited the Spanish Constitution from their ancestors. If they have a problem with that, they need to take it up with their ancestors.
    2. Pointing out the idiosyncrasies of Catalan culture and history is not, in itself, an argument for secession. Every local culture has generations of history to look back upon, and this holds just as true for ethnic groups within multi-ethnic states. The Bretons in France, the Welsh and Scots in the UK, and the Flems in Belgium: all of these peoples can both appreciate their own heritage and participate in the lawful polity they inherited from their ancestors.

    I invite passionate supporters of secession to respond, so I can better understand their motivations. Based on my observations, the government in Madrid seems to have a constitutional and historical mandate to prevent a Catalan referendum regarding independence.

  3. Somebody sent me the text below, I’m not the author, but I 100 % share what it says:

    I kindly ask you to please get the facts straight and read the whole story before getting publicly outraged about the so-called disproportionate violence from the Spanish Police, against the so-called peaceful voters; and most importantly, before getting moved and touched and sympathize with an apparently democratic, liberal, beautiful and idealistic movement as the secession of Catalonia can look like at first sight. The reality is far from that.

    The illegality of the vote is irrelevant and the infinite irregularities surrounding it are irrelevant as well. All foreign media have informed abundantly about how the vote had been declared illegal by the Constitutional Court, about how it was approved in the Catalan House of Representatives without regard to any of its own laws, bypassing all possible statutes and not observing any legal procedures or guarantees. We have all seen that not even half the polls were duly monitored, how countless people voted in multiple stations, how the census included minors and deceased and how ballot boxes were placed in the streets for anybody to vote without control.

    We all know that already. Yet it is not important nor the point. A lot of things that are legal are immoral, and vice-versa. History does not judge events by its legality but by its legitimacy. Laws change every day, and what is illegal today can be legalized tomorrow. Even if all those irregularities had not happened, and even if all regulations had been observed, the situation would not be altered.

    What matters here is not whether the vote last Sunday was legal or not; what matters is that it was illegitimate, because it tried to grant a few the right to decide over what belongs to all. Catalonia is NOT the exclusive property of the people who were born in Catalonia, or of the people who live in Catalonia, or of the people who call themselves Catalans.

    Catalonia belongs to all Spaniards. Catalonia is the heritage and patrimony of us all; and it is so, not just because our young Constitution declares it explicitly, but because we have all worked for Catalonia, fought for Catalonia, contributed, committed, and served to Catalonia. Catalonia has been part of Spain for more than 500 years, never ever having been an independent State (unlike Scotland, FYI), and has been part of the Spanish Nation for more than 1.000 years. And it has been so because our ancestors, our fathers and our grandfathers have fought for it. Because they worked together to build it, because they shed their sweat and blood, fought in countless wars and died for it.

    The bridges, roads, dams, ports and cities of Catalonia were not built by Catalans only, but by all the people in Spain. The wars that freed Spain and Catalonia of foreign enemies were not fought by Catalans only, but by all Spaniards. The Reconquista that defeated and expelled the Islamic invaders from Spain and Catalonia was not fought by Catalans only, but by all Spaniards. So was the liberal revolution that brought a modern State and Constitution, or the peaceful transition from a dictatorship to the current democracy. We did all that together. Catalonia is part of the United Nations, of NATO, of the European Union and of the Euro Zone because it was part of Spain when we joined these Institutions, and we achieved so with the effort of all the Spanish people. Catalan banks have been rescued with Spanish money. Catalan pensions, education and health care are paid by us all.

    We all paid the Barcelona 1992 Olympics or the high speed train to Barcelona. We have all together built what Catalonia is today.
     And we did so because we are a Nation. Because we have a history together and we together have a project for the future.

    That entitles us all, ALL Spaniards, to enjoy Catalonia and to decide over it. Today I have the right to go freely to Barcelona. Why are a few entitled to deprive us all of that right? I can go to work in Catalonia if I wish, to live there or to peacefully retire if I want. Who are these few and with what right they can prevent us all from that? On what grounds?

    Again, Catalonia has never been an independent State and has never decided to freely join Spain. It has always been part of Spain. The same goes the other way round. Today, citizens of Catalonia can move around Spain as they wish, and enjoy a world of rights for being Spanish citizens. They can establish themselves wherever they want. They can work, go to school, to university, to hospitals, to a football match, to cathedrals or museums. Who are these few to take those rights away from all of them? They have always had and always will have those rights, because they have earned it as Spaniards, by contributing to this country and Nation for generations and centuries.

    We have done great things together and we wish to do more. If a few do not feel Spanish, they are free to go wherever they want. This is a free country and they can go at any time and moment. But they cannot steal us a part of Spain that rightfully belongs to us all. A part of our land, a part of our history, a part of our sentiment, a part of us. I refuse to accept that a few can take what is ours by right, and has ALWAYS, ALWAYS been.

    Please do not get fooled by the black or white childish argument that “to vote is always right”. To vote is NOT always right, regardless of whether legal or not, the same way that voting on torturing, beheading and killing every tall or short or blonde or bald person would not be right.

    The vote in Catalonia last sunday was not only illegal, it was above all illegitimate and immoral, because it was sheer robbery. And that is all that matters. Plain and simple.
     Cheers to all!

  4. I am a catalan living abroad and it has been really interesting to see all the latest events from the outside.

    To answer properly, I think is important to start from the begining to explain the Game of Thrones, here is a sum up:

    Catalonia during the middle age

    The queen of Aragon and the Conde of Barcelona got married in 1137. Catalonia was part of Aragon kingdom, and together they conquered a really vast territory of the mediterranean: Sardinia, Napoles and Sicilia among others. All the territories keeped its autonomy. Later, the kingdom of Aragon and Queen of Castilla got married in 1469. They were the Catolics kings and together they expeled muslims (and jews, apparently they didn’t like anybody who was not Christian).

    During the franco-spanish war (1635–59), Catalonia didn’t like that its territory was vastly used for the spanish army due its strategical position and they revolted. Catalonia re-gained part of its autonomy under France, but it was re-conquered for the Spanish army later. The northern part of Catalonia was given to france (Rousillon)

    Game of thrones in real life

    In 1700 the King died without children, Carles II. Spain was a great empire back then and all Europe started to salivate just imaging all the territory they would control if they could be the next king. They tried to divide the territory without success.

    Philip V of Bourbon was the French King who was suppose to reign over Spain by order of the last spanish king. The Austrians, the Dutch and English allies formally declared war in May 1702 because this would meant that France dinasty would reign over almost all Europe. Archduke Carles of Halsburg was their proposal. You can read the whole war here.

    The kingdom of Aragon was roting for Archduke Carles as Philip V was cnsidered just a french pupet in the Spanish kingdom. In the 11th september of 1714 the troops of Philip V entered in Barcelona and they took the city. This militarily ended the Habsburg claim to the Spanish Crown, which became legal fact in the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip felt that he had been betrayed by the Catalan Courts, as it had initially sworn its loyal to him when he had presided over it in 1701 (Ops, Is it too late to say sorry?), and he incorporated all the territories under Spanish rulling.


    Dictator Franco abolish all the rights of the territories (you see the trend here?) during the 40 years of military rulling. When he died, Catalonia got restored all the institutions and language rights, but for some reason whe didn’t claim fiscal autonomy as the basque territory did. My father could moan about this for hours.

    The Independece was considered something naive and ilusional, and only one political party was supporting it (ERC) voted by people in low-middle class. It was considered something stupid, too much problems.

    40 years of the Spanish Voldemort

    40 years of dictatorship not only left Spain complete out of the league and poor, but we also had some brain washing. The reds (socialist) were the bad people, they lose the civil war. Even now socialist parties are considered a joke, people don’t trust them to manage the economy well (despite the graphics showing the opposite). This has been seen with the case of the new party Podemos. Middle age spanish people really fear them, even my fathers despite them voting for the independence.

    As well, Spain was ruled by frenchies for 3 centuries and therefore we got the same rulling culture. French rules as a centralistic power. In France, Paris has the power and is the center of the country. They abolished any other language or instituion. Same in Spain. Spain is one and indivisible, and the current party rulling (Partido Popular – PP) represents these values. They are a left party and they will do anything to keep Spain as one single country. They are the true saviours of Spain. Separatist and socialist are the cancer of Spain and will only bring us to dark(er) years. And despite having hundreds and hundreds of its political members under investigation and being impeched, they gained the last elections*!!!!!

    *Our spanish Trump moment. We all have one apparently.

    This means that this party -PP- is stopping anything possible in order to not give catalonia more rights. Why? Well they will probably lost a big numbers of votes from people who believe that Spain is ONE nation. Also some party leaders from PP have complained for years that Catalonia should not have more rights because “ we all deserve the same”. They kind of forget that Madrid, Catalonia and Valencia are paying them its college tuitions, airports, roads, benefits…ah, amnesia.

    Global crisis in 2008

    Everything was going “fine” until the Global crisis in 2008. We all knew the fiscal deficit in Catalonia was pretty high (8%, one of the highest in Europe) but during the golden years the money was coming and going so no one complained that much.

    But the PP won the elections in 2007. And the global crisis affected Spain really hard. It broke thousands and thousand of families, the unemployment reached 26%. And the government started to presure.

    Which means since 2007 we have in the government people who believe catalans should not complain nor have more rights. For them this independence thing is a pain in the ass and they don’t know what to do. Some of their voters even think that they should not even negotiate with the “separatist”.

    What caused the raising of the independent movement?

    The President of Catalonia, whom in 1990 said that the independence was stupid, proposed a referendum. Since then, only a small part of society was supporting the movement.

    1. Economy – This sparkled the flame. The fact of having a central government presuring you to spend less, didn’t help. Every cent counts. Imagine that for a lot of years you have been giving to your father money to manage the house. You knew you were paying more than the rest but it was ok because the house was clean, warm and you had food. Then suddenly, he announce he doesn’t have more money. But you have to keep paying more than the rest and he is not giving you food, nor caring about your needs. And he is even telling you is your fault because you didn’t save money!
    2. Central goverment – There is a saying in Catalonia: every time the PP open its mouth, the % of catalans who wants the independence increase. They even tried to arrest the President of Catalonia for corruption DURING the mock referendum we had, alleging he had a bank in Switzerland. He didn’t. It was kind of funny specially when last month they uncovered a secret tape: the central government had a department focused on trying to stop the independence at any cost: false detentions, thousand of investigations, cutting strategic investments in catalonia so catalan people will get angry and vote PP…They are stopping any kind of negotiation. Even the European government talked with them asking why they didn’t allow Catalonia to have a referendum.

    In overall, humans have the need to control their life, specially if the one controlling it is a jerk. It was the same with US and UK. If you feel like your central government only wants you for money, you want to break free.

    US did the same 300 years ago.

  5. They have been brainwashed by corrupt political elites that ‘we Catalans are soooo different from other Spaniards’ and that having your own language is a reason to have your own country. If other regions elsewhere would use the same logic, Switzerland will fall apart in 4 countries, Belgium, Canada and The Netherlands in 2 countries, to mention just a few examples.
    The richness of having different languages is one of the charms and typical characteristics of Spain.

    Over the past 30 years or so the whole Catalan identity as being completely different from the Spanish – even though no foreigner would be able to distinguish Catalans from other Spanish (besides the language) – has been carefully crafted by nationalists that focus on differences rather than what the Spanish have in common.

    And yes, the Catalans as one of the richest areas pay more to the national budget and get relatively less back. BUT, this is true in almost every country. Rich regions pay more taxes and poorer regions receive more. This is nothing unusual.

    In the EU the richer countries such as The Netherlands or Germany contribute more and relatively poorer countries such as Eastern European countries, Greece, Spain and Portugal receive more back to support their development. This kind of solidarity is normal and helps the economy of the whole EU. But you do hear the same selfish talk among anti-EU parties in the Netherlands and Germany (for instance) that ‘we should leave the EU because we pay more for the lazy Spanish (and they do not exclude the Catalans there ;-)), very similar to the Catalan discourse.

    The sad thing of course is that just over 50% of the inhabitants of Catalonia do not want to secede from Spain but are bullied by an intollerant minority….

  6. The main reason for the Catalan nationalists to demand their independence is that they no longer want to participate in the economic effort of national solidarity: in other words, they no longer want to help the poor regions of Spain. The nationalist propaganda told the Catalans that they would live better by being independent, which is clearly contradicted since October 1st:

    • The European Union announced that an independent Catalonia would be excluded from the EU, which implies a re-establishment of borders and customs duties leading to a reduction of Catalan exports and therefore an economic slowdown in Catalonia
    • More than 60% of catalan exports go to other Spanish regions. With higher tariffs (customs duties) and above all the manner in which the other Spaniards were treated by the Catalan nationalists ("Spain robs us"), it is more than probable that the Spanish buyers cease their activity with Catalonia
    • Since October 1st referendum, Catalan companies representing more than 2500 billion capitalization have transferred their head offices out of Catalonia. Among them are the banks CaixaBank (2nd Spanish bank) and Sabadell (6th), Gas Natural (main energy company), Agua de Barcelona (main water company), ​​etc. This is a shortfall of several billion tax revenues in Catalonia
    • Most of the real estate investments planned in Catalonia are either frozen or directed to other Spanish regions or abroad. It is a net loss for the catalan economy.
    • According to tourism professionals in Catalonia, hotel reservations are down by 50% compared to last year. Another net loss for the economy, considering that tourism accounts for almost 20% of Catalan GDP.
    • In terms of image, Catalonia and Barcelona reputation suffered: from a pleasant, festive and open destination, we have moved to a destination with problems and closed on itself, which will result on economy

    In short, I sincerely think that an independent Catalonia will be much poorer than a Spanish Catalonia. It can be expected an economic recession in Catalonia in the coming months, even if it remains in Spain.

    To laugh a little with a popular joke in Barcelona: indirectly, the Catalan nationalists have reached their goal, Catalonia by impoverishing will no longer participate in the effort of national solidarity. On the contrary, it should benefit very soon of national solidarity!

  7. I am just trying to reproduce what has been covered in the National and International media.

    Catalan is geographically located in the North Eastern part of Spain which enjoys limited autonomy in terms of culture and language. The Catalan region has their own language, flag and regional Government. The past background provide the historical context to the latest face off between Catalonian regional Government headed by Puigdemont and Mariona Rajoy, PM of Spain.

    Till 1978 Spain was ruled by Franco who was a dictator. During his tenure he used the means of force to crush the regional autonomy and denied catalonians right to self determination. Post Franco rule, in 1978 Spain gave themselves a Constitution, the provisions of which was agreed upon by all the Spanish citizens, including Catalonians through referendum. It was agreed upon by all the stakeholders that every region pf Spain is an indissoluble part of sovereign Spain.

    Way forward to year 2006, Spain constitutional Government has extended judicial and cultural autonomy to Catalon, followed by an ill conceived proposal to allow them to use the term “nation”. However, in 2010, Government decided to reform that Constitution under which they remove the entitlement given to the Catalon Government to use the term “nation”. This didn’t gone down well the Catalon Government and it was perceived that the Madrid Government is unilaterally using its power to deny Catalonians their right to self determination and regional autonomy.

    In the current context, Spain is going through an economic crisis, witnessing high unemployment rate and overall economic slowdown. Catalon region is also inflicted with this economic crisis. The region contributes 19% of GDP to Madrid, having share of 25% of overall exports and host vibrant ecosystem of research and tourism. Catalons think that they receive less in comparison to what they give back to the Madrid Government. Also, regional president, Charles Puigdemont has spurred the Independence movement in the region by approving a law which enables them to conduct referendum for secession from the sovereign Government. What Catalons are demanding is political, cultural, economic autonomy and right to self determination, which they feel they can enjoy by gaining Independence from the sovereign Spanish Government.

    This legislative enactment has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, as Constitutionally, no regional Government has the right and power to secede from the union Government. Further, the case is weak for the supporters who are demanding Independence from the Madrid Government. This is because the support is underwhelming, as less than 50% of Catalonians are in favor of Independence. The 90% of the voters who have voted in October 1, 2017, referendum are voters among 49% of the total franchise who went for voting. So, catalonians too are divided on this issue.

    However, Mariona Rajoy high handedness tactics has given the police free hand to unleash force on the innocent people who came out in large number to vote in the referendum and express solidarity towards the cause of Catalonians. Rajoy order was condemnable and unjust. More than 300 people got injured as police whipped citizens with batons and used rubber bullets on the unarmed crowd.

    As Arab spring has swept the dictatorial rule of North Africa and West Asian countries leaving behind stable democratic regimes at some places (e.g. Tunisia) and worst forms humanitarian crisis in other (e.g. Syria). Likewise, Brexit, Scotland and Hungarian referendum, have generated wave of political unstable situation in European countries. The delegates at the high commanding position in EU are apprehensive of the unpredictable consequences the Catalonian referendum will have on the stability of European Union.

    Also, this crisis has the potential to kick start hitherto dormant secessionist movement across the globe e.g. Chechenya secession from Russia. What could be the possible solution to prevent this crisis from escalating into unmanageable proportion ?

    First, Mariono Rajoy, should immediately order withdrawal of police forces from the Catalon region and make all possible efforts to calm down the situation. Second, he can extend more autonomy to the Catalonian Government through Constitutional reforms. Third, knowing this fact that their demands for Independence is unconstitutional, Catalonians should limit their demands on acquiring more autonomy and simultaneously should try to reconcile its inteest with the Spanish Government.

    Today, both Government are justifying their action in the name of defending and strengthening the democracy. However, the call for right to self determination is in limbo that has entered into the crisis situation. Though the demands of Catalonians today stand justified but the measure they have adopted is legally untenable. Their is a need for reconciliation of interests of both the parties keeping in mind that democratic values stay intact across the polity.

    # Correction in facts are welcome.


    1. Why do some Catalans want independence and what is Spain's view?
    2. Catalonia MAPPED: Where is Catalonia and why does it want independence from Spain?
    3. NY Times and The Hindu.
  8. First and foremost, they have a powerhouse city like Barcelona. Also, there are cultural and language differences with the rest of regions that comprise Spain, but they are not unique on this. Other regions have analog differences but have not made the trek to wanna-be country. Change in the map Barcelona for an imaginary catalan city with the size of Bilbao or Coruña. Would they still want indepence? Probably not so much, my guess is that they would have blended submissively with the rest. This would be an scenario like France, where Paris exerts uncontended economic influence.

    So, this is a common problem on bicephalous countries with two marked powerhouse economic regions with one of them having more impact on decisions. How did others avoid the clash? Baby USA very wisely moved the capital from New York City/Philadelphia to neutral Washington DC, thus avoiding the inevitable split between the then rich south and the north-atlantic region. A similar move of capital would have saved the union here too.

    But back to reality, unfortunately none of our politicians have this vision, so we are engaged in a deaf man’s dialog where reptilian brain has kicked in. Consequences are not going to be pretty. We are already seeing social unrest, stock market crashing, and the dismanteling of many things that took a lot of effort and time to build, and that people are taking for granted.

    I can only imagine FC Barcelona directive on the day after independence. “Yess!! we are independent!! wait a minute..we are out of Spain’s league! France or England won’t rescue us because they don’t want to upset anybody…now, how the F..K do we pay Messi?”

  9. At this point, basically it is lack of respect from the Spanish government. There is not a single main reason, however. Just to mention a few:

    • Unfair treatment of our own culture and language.
    • A promoted anti-Catalan hate speech from the establishment and some media (thankfully not the average citizen – but even reasonable nice people are saying offensive things)
    • Unfair fiscal treatment, using an opaque system that doesn't give back taxes in a decent manner.
    • Lack of investments in basic things such as commuter train systems, or a decent freight rail along the Mediterranean coast (60% of Spanish GDP comes from here and uses trucks).
    • Use of Catalan affairs to cover all the government mishaps and sometimes even crimes.
    • Lack of a profound democratic system (although to be honest Spain currently has the least bad political system ever, and I can tell you that as a History teacher).
    • Desire to become a republic (as Spaniards we have never had the chance to even discuss that).

    There are many more and some other pro-unionist answers will probably speak against this, but this is the way it is.

    Do have a look at the following link http://www.debatingeurope.eu/foc

  10. Some Catalans want to secede from Spain, not "Catalans" in general. I do not know why other catalans want to secede, but I know why I want to.

    I was not secessionist at all. As a matter of fact, I did not care about politics. Franco died, we had a Democracy, I did not vote the Democratic constitution, nor I vote in the following elections until Catalan elections this year. I did not cast a vote for more than 30 years. Political parties came and went, I was working in France, then in other countries, and what was happening not only in Catalunya, but globally in Spain, seemed to me less interesting than a cricket game for a foreigner.

    Then, someone decided that we, Catalans, needed a Regulatory Law to define our relationship with the rest of Spain. This relationship should have been a need for the politicians, not for me, and I did not care at all. This regulatory law was discussed and approved in Catalan Parliament (by the way, it seems logical that they approve the law they wrote), then Spanish Parliament made some corrections and approved it too (so, everybody was happy), then it was voted by Referendum in Catalunya. I did not give a sh** so, I did not vote. The Autonomy Regulatory Law was approved.

    Then, to grasp some votes in the rest of Spain, Partido Popular brought this Law, approved in the Catalan Parliament, in the Spanish Parliament, and by the people of Catalunya, to the "Tribunal Constitucional" , which is a Political Court, with members appointed by politic parties. Tribunal Constitucional declared anti constitutional some chapters of the law approved by the people. They shown a total disdain to democracy, and also to the common sense. If a law has been approved in not one but two Parliaments, and by the People, there is nothing more to be said. Eventually, they must have disagreed before the Law being voted.

    From this moment on, I became secessionist, there is nowhere to go with people that do not believe in Democracy.

    So, in my case is not cultural (my culture is essentially French, and more Spanish than Catalan), nor historical (the concept of "Nation" is obsolete in a world with intermingled economical interests), nor financial (I pay my taxes, and for me it is the same to pay taxes to Catalunya, to Spain, to Europe or to the World Bank, although I am afraid that right now, I am paying all together) 

  11. Deep down it is a conflict of interest between Spain’s central Gvnmt and Catalonia’s autonomic one. Both are corrupt to the bone. Both are manipulating their subjects. None wants to lose part of the bribes they get. In Catalonia’s case, they do not want the central judiciary to look into their dirty business.

    I do know that Catalan people who do not want independence are afraid to openly exposing their opinion. Separatists are not nuns, say. Some would call them violent. But what the central Gvnmt did, sending riot police against citizens, is not a good idea, even if it is legal. It only plays on the separatists hands. It also impedes non-separatists to express their opinion. IMO police should impede violence, not start it.

    It is all a mess. IMO, separate we fall, together we stand. But the people representing us Spaniards, in both sides, are incompetent SOBs who do not have our interests at heart, but their own. Hard words, but nevertheless true. IMO, and I may be wrong, Catalonia needs the rest of Spain more than we do them. Admittedly they give a lot, but get back even more. If any regions should feel discriminated it should be us Andalusian, Extremaduran or Galician people. Andalusia and Extremadura have traditionally fed the rest of Spain. Vegetables, meat, olive oil, cereals … Catalonia produces industrial goods and the rest of Spain is its main customer. We complement each other, but in a pinch we are self-sufficient. Catalonia?.

    Take a look at thee decorations on a typical village house here … are those Andalusian banners?. No. They are SPANISH. Not that we do not cherish our own banner, mind, or that we do not love our region. But we UNDERSTAND. Together we stand … What we need is to jail those corrupt leaders and find good ones. Easier said than done ..

    P.S. : Since I wrote my answer, things keep on happening. Our King has addressed the Nation to tell us that Catalonian Gvnmt is acting illegally and has been doing so for a long time; thanks, but we knew that. It has become evident , at least to me, that the Police has acted with great restrain, and I have experience dealing with them. Heck, riot Police USE sticks. What can you expect?. They tried to do what they were ordered to. There have been injured and maimed and one dead (heart attack, it seems). Incidents have been exaggerated by the Catalonian Gvnmt and played down by the Central one.

    What has gone unnoticed is that the Banco de España has declared a week ago that the Bank rescue will never be recovered, and we are speaking of ten times the annual health care budget. Rescue paid by the likes of me. People having stolen hundreds of millions go scoot free, but a poor soul who stole a bicycle is in jail. Unemployment at Linares reached 45%. I am retired, and new retirement pensions cuts have just been approved. The central Gvnmt claims we will be much better than before, thanks to the money they will not pay us (literally!). On the Catalonian Gvnmt side, moneys have flown, to the tune of thousands of millions. Go and search, or maybe don’t, you may get sick, same as happened to me.

    Smoke and mirrors, anyone?. We are being manipulated and robbed. Everybody, Catalonians included.

  12. I was not born and raised in Catalonia. I lived in Barcelona for a year and consider it my favorite city in the world. In addition to living there a year, I have friends and family members who are Spanish. I’ve taken keen interest in the Catalan issue because independence movements have some similarities and some distinctions. In addition to every other answer (such as Simon Harris and Alba Soler’s answers), I’d like to point something out that I find to be very pointed about the Catalan independence movement.

    Whilst traveling through Spain and speaking with non-Catalans, including friends, family members, and acquaintances, there is something that non-Catalans convey that always struck me deeply: this sincere disdain and borderline hatred towards Catalans and their independence movement that has resulted in a very pronounced negative feedback loop.

    If you go to Canada, it has embraced its French culture to a point where independence movements have diminished considerably since the late 70’s and early 80’s. So, by embracing the difference and inviting the French culture into the mainstream, it has resulted in a positive feedback loop where Canadians largely embrace the amalgamation of its culture. Not so in Spain.

    It is ironic that so many people I know from Galicia, Asturias, Madrid, etc. express this disdain yet, in the same breadth… want Catalunya to stay as part of Spain. Of course, we know why: it is relatively rich compared to other Spanish regions and subsidizes the central government to a greater extent. However, the point I’m trying to make is that the typical Catalan *knows* what I’m saying… they see: (1) less money in their coffers that is going out to (2) a central government and “fellow citizens” that really dislike you, which creates this self-fulfilling prophecy of defensiveness and being “shoved into a corner” (i.e., you WANT to be more Catalan, you WANT to show what you can do).

    The benefit to this is that Catalan politicians, as corrupt as they may be, actually manage Catalonia better and with less corruption than they otherwise would. In other words, the system works better. I’m not saying corruption does not exist, but this negative feedback loop between Catalonia and the rest of Spain has highlighted the resolve of the Catalans to outshine – not just within Spain – but also with Europe and in the international arena. Examples:

    • The 2010 World Cup team was composed predominantly with… Barcelona/Catalan players!
    • Culinary speaking, while I think Galicia has my favorite food, the Catalans took it to a different art form, having some of the best restaurants (Basque’s will certainly disagree lol).
    • Barcelona is breathtaking architecturally speaking, with families promoting modern designs and architecture that you can’t see anywhere.

    In sum, unlike other independence movements, *I get* why Catalans want to become independent: they have been rejected by most of Spanish society in a manner that put their own self-identity in hyper driver, leading to very material successes and “we are different” feelings. I understand it.

    Notwithstanding the above, I do believe the Catalan independence movement is unfeasible given the European Union. I believe that Catalans are too late to the independence game; it makes no sense now. And the Catalans need to bite this bullet and, instead of looking for more independence, look for a better solution from Brussels to their own situation. Personally, I place the blame on the EU’s reluctance to vehemently call out the propaganda that Catalonia could somehow leave Spain and join the EU without a hitch; this has led to massive support for independence that, otherwise, I don’t believe would exist in the same scale. Just like Brexit, the EU needs to show that actions have consequences, and although I understand and agree with the feeling of independence by the Catalans, the EU makes independence futile.

    I do hope that the Spanish central government take a much more inviting approach to the Catalans. While I love Spanish people and culture… they can be very hard headed 🙂

    My two cents.

  13. Catalonians and Spaniards both have a common ancestry, the Roman-Iberians of the times of the Roman Empire domination over the Iberian Peninsula. However, from the moment that the Roman control over Iberia was wrested by the various Germanic tribes that established their kingdoms there, the birth of the Catalonian and Spanish culture and nations took place. From that moment on, the language in either nation went from the vulgar Hispanic Latin identically spoken in both regions to fully-fledged and distinct languages: Catalonian and Castillian. For quite some time, the Catalonians led a life independently from Castile (along with Aragon, the embryo of today’s Spain) as the County of Barcelona. Later on, they would become part of Aragon, yet their language and local government councils and special priviliges (fueros) would be respected by the Aragonese monarchs.

    For medieval European standards, the Spanish Peninsula was a huge geographical area which was occupied by different cultural groups such as the Castilians, Portuguese, Basques, Leonese, Aragonese, Navarran, Catalonians, Gallegans, etc. The idea of craeating one single nation just because all these nations happened to be located on the same peninsula came from queen Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon (and ruler of Catalonia), the “Catholic Monarchs.” At the time, total disrespect for others’ cultures by greedy and near-sighted monarchs was commpnplace. Thus Isabella and Ferdinanad agreed that Spain should eventually be under one king, one religion, and one language (culture). The whole Iberian Peninsula would briefly be under one single monarch during the rule of Philip II, king of Spain, who inherited the Portuguese crown because of his blood ties with the then nearly extinct Portuguese royal house, the Braganza.

    For the remainder of the monarchy in Spain, and throughout the republic, Franco’s dictatorship and the restablished republic, Spain has exerted more or less pressure on the “autonomous communities” to abandon their old traditions and languages and become fully integrated within the Castilian cultural framework. Most communities gradually accepted this arbirtrary imposition, except for the Catalonians and the Basques, who even turned to terrorism for over 4 decades to show their disagreement with the cental government in Madrid. The Catalonians, on the other hand, have turned to culture, mainly literature and music, to advance their cause of cultural preservation and political independence. This peaceful, rebellious movement started back in the 1960s, being Joan Manuel Serrat its most famous representative both in and out of Spain. A small band of musicians/comedians (sort of the Monty Python’s of Catalonia), La Trinca, published numerous songs criticizing Franco’s dictatorship in such an ingenuous and creative way that the censorship never got any the wiser and allowed these songs to be broadcast publicly.

    Even though the restoration of the republic in the late 1970s by king Juan Carlos I, and then the rapid and nearly miraculous economic recovery of Spain left the independentist Catalonian movement in a second plane, it never ceased to exist, and the teaching and use of Catalonian for everyday communication was encouraged more all the time.

    Unless you’ve heard from the desire of the Catalonians to become independent from Spain in recent times, you would realize that the Catalonians’ attachment to their language and culture have defiend their unique and distinc identity as a people and a nation. The Catalonian language, for a long time, has been so different from Spanish is from Portuguese or French for over 500 years. The fact that their old customs and traditions refuse to die and, actually, gain more strength with every passing day is another proof of the legitimacy of the Catalonians’ desire. The Spanish political parties in government only care their survival, and not about the people in any autonomous community within Spain. They have come up with dozens of silly excuses just to impose their authoritarian resolve. Fortunately, the Catalonian culture will keep on resisting, as it did through the autorhitarian kings of Spain in the past, and two republics.


    • No ordinality in taxes: paid taxes are not transformed in investments by the Goverment (Valencia and Balearic Islands cases are worse even).

    • Discrimination in paid motorways: red = paid, blue = costfree.

    • Spanish government infrastructures investment: Catalonia has the highest GDP but…

    • Unfair infrastructures policy: on the left, how EU conceives the Mediterranean corridor; on the right, how Spanish Government is executing it (via Madrid).

    • International flights unfair restrictions to Barcelona-El Prat aeroport: on 2008 there were 30 agreements to prevent Barecelona’s airport to be a final destination in international flights; on 2017 it still happens.


    • Spanish government does not comply with the Constitutional Tribunal in 34 sentences: for example with university grants, social welfare, culture, environmental protection, etc.

    • Constitutional Tribunal modified the Catalan Statute after Catalans had already voted it in a referendum: even left-link Spanish politicians where proud of this unfair action with the famous sentence “we have planed down the Statute”.


    • Catalan language has continuous attacks by Spanish judges and police without any punishment to prevent it: see Olot’s judge case and see the interactive map with a collection of attacks from 2007 to 2016. Only 8.4% of sentences were written in Catalan on 2015, and descending.

    Discriminacions lingüístiques a les administracions de l'Estat espanyol (2007-2016)

    • Hundreds of laws to protect Spanish in product labeling but Catalan only labeling is forbidden: e.g. case of a toys manufacturer and fish markets.

    • Continuous insults on Spanish TV channels against Catalan and Catalans: see the CAC report of 43 extreme cases gathered by the Catalan government which sued those TV channels.


    • “Voting in a referendum only happens in the worst dictatorships”, according to all Spanish parties but Podemos: Rajoy dixit… see video.
    • Continuous attacks from the Presidents of other Autonomous Regions of Spain: eg. Susana Díaz from Andalusia. (see video)
    • So far, 22 Catalan politicians have been prosecuted for political ideas: the reason? for simply defending the mandate of the majority of Catalans, according to present parliament; in few months this amount is expected to be increased substantially.


    A.P.: Wow, several lies one by one… some people in Cataluña is very xenofobe and think they are better than the rest and that they dont have to pay the same taxes than the rest. Is what Euskadi obtains and what Cataluña want. Yes, because in Spain like rest of developed occidental countries are the people who pay taxes not the regions. If you have more you pay more, is simple.

    Its not true Cataluña is oprimed. Andalucía is oprimed, Extremadura too.


    To understand why Catalans dislike to pay taxes and not receiving investments in reward, it is important to read this conference held by Ernest Renan on 1882 where he evaluates the real meaning of the word ‘nation’.

    Pro-independence Catalans feel Catalonia as a full-featured nation. As a community they want to be part of. And consider Spain a different nation. Like France, Italy, etc.

    Besides, the term cultural-nation as a minor nation that some Spanish politicians use to calm down pro-independence Catalans is seen as an insult to intelligence.

    There is a famous saying related to this. When we dislike a Catalan, we say: “he is a son of bitch, but he is one of us”. e.g. we apply it to corrupted Catalan politicians like Jordi Pujol, former President of Catalonia during 23 years.

    Finally, I absolutely disagree with the idea that pro-independence Catalans are mostly identitarian. It is a minority of about 10% of the total, absolutely rejected by the majority. Santiago Espot from Catalunya Acció, Alfred López Tena from Solidaritat and the anarchist organization Arran are some exponents, but truly a minority.


    Dont misunderstand me, I think the referendum is necesary but between you and me, it will not be the solution. You know the reason is money, noway, economy is motor of the world. Probably you'll won the independence one day but it will be the first time in the world tha a rich region leaves one country not because liberty and yes because unsolidarity. When a divorce runs one part dont go with all the issues, normally there is a distribute. Will a Cataluña indepe return to Andalucía the banks (cajas) that LaCaixa win for the support of CIU to Zapatero' PM las budgets?. Seat motor industries goberment support? 3M € for supply the Cat public debt Rajoy PM gives for the last support? Hey, we all have things to say, Extremadura lost his textil industries relationship the decision of the spanish gob not to compete with cat industry. Instead I can understand what you say, and a I think you have the right to vote or no for independence in a referendum, you cant never say you are opprimed or underestimated or ignored. Cataluña is one of the richest regions in Spain, you can speak the language you want and freespeech, tolerance and sincere appreciation of the majority of the normal spaniards. In one of the most importants jornals “El país” you can read one or two diary articles in catalan (in the ElPais castiglian versin hey!) Despite you can read a especial version in catalan (and in portugues for Brazil, and in english). Nobody have any problem in Spain for that. I am reading ElPaís in my app and wow suddenly one of the articles is in catalan (and without an spanish alternative). And no problem. I can try, is easy and beautiful language. Nearest to spanish than french or italian (I cant understand why you say catalan is more french or italian than spanish… you prefer appeear more european with that seem?). Probably the 1′5 M of andaloussians that emigred to Cataluña in Franco's times to work in the factory's that Franco dictator build in Cataluña (and no in Andalucía) have something to do in that. Here we remember well the CIUs corrupt (near jail) President pujol said about the inferior tipe of person near dogs that the andaloussians we are. You remember?


    Your thesis are similar to Suso de Toro ones. No doubt that only 10% of Catalans would be pro-independence if Spain was as you say. The day people like you rule Spain, Catalonia will not be a problem anymore.

    But reality is absolutely different. My post is not about rare cases. I just put these examples because were the ones I could easily find referenced in the medias.

    If I was Andalusian like you, I would be scared of the future keeping ‘inside’ Spain. What is happening with judges Maza, Moix, etc. demonstrates that Franco won the civil war and the transition, too. This deeply corrupted homeboy politics, together with the 100% GDP debt, are condemning Spain to poverty for decades. Small countries are more under control of the people. Or at least this is what the people perceives.

    I have my own ideas about this topic but I never express them at Quora. I just try to accurately answer what people ask.

    PS. Pujol and her wife Ferrusola are identitarian and class-conscious, yes. They would say the same stupidities against me, no doubt.

    Seat, etc. is a minority manufacturer compared to all other manufacturers in Spain and all receive money from the governments. Franco pushed to install Seat in Barcelona because Hispano Suiza -now Nissan- from his friend Mateu was already there. Besides, Franco wanted to dilute Catalan identity. No mystery in it.

    Extremadura’s textile was impossible without rivers. Coal was too expensive. Catalan rivers pushed that early industry, not politicians. Autarchy was the same for the whole Spain, not segmented by regions. I invite you visiting the large amount of manufacturing colonies we have all over our rivers from that time.


    Be sure Iam scared. And already you read between lines I think the problem is Madrid/Castilla centralism and no the rest of Spain. And all should be so easy because we dont hate us the others and we are not so differents. You are rigth to figth for your economy and prosperity, poor of us alone under Madrid. Of what Iam sure us that we have to make an arrange to finish this dispute, lets people be asked. You have my vote for that and try not to make a 100 years along hurt, do the things better than now. Do you know how many childs are named Jordi in Seville? Or Nuria? How many supporters of FC Barcelona? How many of us have familiar relationships with catalans?


    Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer because Lincoln rejected the possibility of secession of southern states arguing that US was a Perpetual Union (Perpetual Union – Wikipedia). Doesn’t it sound familiar to you? 1812’s Spanish Constitution was a copy of the American one. And 1978’s Spanish Constitution was a copy 1812 removing the term “Spains”, because no overseas colonies were to consider anymore. This is why Rajoy insists that he cannot allow the Catalan independence referendum. It would be against the Spanish Perpetual Union.

    The flip side is that,undisguisedly, Madrid wants to be like Paris. In fact, whole Spanish politics is a copy of French one since 1812. eg. provinces were created on 1833 copying French divisions. If Catalonia gets independent, Madrid will be free to become Paris. To some powerful people, this is a tempting reason to allowing Catalonia’s independence…

  15. Why do many Catalans want to secede from Spain?

    Do you know Switzerland?

    In Switzerland they have 4 languages and 4 distinct linguistic regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. 63% of the population speak German, 22% French, 8% Italian and less than 1% speaks Romansh. All these languages are recognized by the central government, even Romansh despite the fact that less than 1% speak it. Meaning that if a person writes a letter to the government in Romansh they will receive a reply in Romansh as well. Even Swiss banknotes are printed using all four languages of the country.

    Now here what’s interesting about it.

    Despite the fact that German is spoken by almost two thirds of the country (both in terms of population and linguistic area) it isn’t imposed on the remaining parts of the country that speak other languages.

    The central government in Bern (which is in the German speaking area) doesn’t coerce, promote, demand or obligate anyone in the non-German speaking parts of the country to speak German. It doesn’t give the excuse that everyone should speak German, even in areas that aren’t German speaking, to “unify” the Swiss society, to bring social cohesion. They also don’t call the German they speak (it is slightly different from standard German spoken in Germany) as “Swiss language”. There is no “Swiss language” in Switzerland.

    And do you know what?! Even despite the fact that people outside of the German speaking areas mostly don’t speak German, Switzerland is a very united country. There are no independence movements in the French or Italian or Romansh speaking areas. They don’t even ask for greater autonomy. They all feel Swiss and are happy about it.

    Now back to Spain.

    In Spain, much like Switzerland, you have 4 different languages: Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque. Castilian is the most widely spoken both in terms of population and language area. By now you must be wondering “what is this Castilian that he keeps talking about?” Well, Castilian is what you know as Spanish. More on this further along.

    Now everything changes when it comes to the government attitude towards languages in Spain. Unlike Switzerland, the government in Madrid wants everyone in Spain to speak Castilian and it does so either by passing laws either but subtle repression. The purpose of this is to have an unified country and a cohesive society. They even keep on calling Castilian language as “Spanish Language”. Sorry, there is no Spanish language the same way that there isn’t a Swiss language.

    Let’s change the subject for a moment and talk about Catalonia.

    Catalonia used to be an independent country a few centuries ago with their own language, culture and state institutions. Then their king married the Castilian queen and both kingdoms were united under one single country, Spain, while keeping separate state institutions for the Castilian part and the Catalan part. With time, the Castilian part of the country, being bigger and more powerful, started imposing itself on the Catalan part, oppressing its culture, language and institutions. So much so that by 1950 there was no more Catalonia. Catalan language was forbidden, Catalan state institution were vanished, even Catalan culture was being eroded in favor of Castilian culture. Castilian culture and Castilian language became the Spanish culture and Spanish language.

    Then in 1975, the dictator of Spain, Generalissimo Francisco Franco died and the country started a slow transition to freedom and democracy. Catalonia got the right to recreate their old institutions, to teach their language in schools, to practice their costumes as they wanted and even to manage part of their budget.

    You would think that Catalans should be happy…

    Well, no they aren’t. And the reason as to do with that language issue I wrote about in the beginning. The government in Madrid (heir of the old Castilian institutions that oppressed Catalonia for centuries) still see’s itself as the ruler of Spain. Their will is the one that counts and it must be accepted by all in Spain. The language issue is just an example of the way they think. Basically they say to Catalonia “You can do whatever you want. As long as I agree with it.”

    So the relationship between Catalonia and the central government in Madrid isn’t one of equal partners. Madrid behaves like the husband that claims to give his wife, Catalonia, all the freedom she wants while at the same time wants her to do only what he says it’s the best for her.

    If Spain was ruled more like Switzerland where the minority and the majority have the same power and the same rights and, specially, no one tries to impose their will and culture on the others, Spain wouldn’t see any problems with people wanting to become independent.

    Edit: Some people have been writing comments saying that Catalonia was never independent in the past and considering that reason enough to invalidate my entire answer (even though the point that I made that Catalonia used to be independent was a small part of my entire answer). So, to shut up those people (although I hardly believe it will really shut them up) I will add the following:

    The County of Barcelona (which nowadays corresponds to the territories of Catalonia, Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands) existed as a de facto independent country from the 10th century up until the year 1162, when the count of Barcelona inherited the Kingdom of Aragon. Thus creating the Crown of Aragon. In 1468 king Ferdinand of Aragon married Queen Isabella of Castilla uniting the two kingdoms into a dynastic union.
    So, to conclude:

    • The county of Barcelona (I shall refer to it as Catalonia from now on to make things easier to understand.) was a de facto independent country before 1162 (so it certainly wasn’t a part of Spain).
    • In 1162 their ruler inherited the kingdom of Aragon creating a dynastic union between Aragon and Catalonia. Aragon didn’t rule over Catalonia nor Catalonia ruled over Aragon. They were two separate states ruled by the same monarch. If you want to make the argument that Catalonia lost their independence to Aragon may I remind you that the kingdom of Aragon was inherited by the ruler of Catalonia. Soooo, if anything, it would be Aragon loosing it’s independence to Catalonia… But, like I said, it was nothing of that sort. The crown of Aragon was a federation between the Kingdom of Aragon and Catalonia and both territories kept their own institutions (still not ruled by Madrid and not ruled by any other foreign country).
    • In 1468, with the marriage between the king of Aragon and the Queen of Castilla, the two kingdoms were united in a dynastic Union that formed the new Kingdom of Spain. The two kingdoms were suppose to keep their own separate institutions under the new kingdom. And they did. Up until 1716 when the Spanish king abolished all state institutions and laws of the old Crown of Aragon, thus completely absorbing it into Spain. Only then you could say that Catalonia, by losing its state institutions and laws, truly lost its independence.
  16. Thanks for the A2A, Joe!

    Well, you should probably have asked one of the many Catalans that want to separate (… not all of them do, in any case: most recent polls suggest a ~40% support for independence). After all I am a "madrileño" who lives in Madrid – but I'll do my best to summarize what their reasons apparently are – and to do so objectively.

    I would arbitrarily say that there are two big "groups" of possible reasons: historic & current. They obviously complement each other, but many will probably put more emphasis on one of the two.

    1.- Historic, or distant past, reasons:

    • Some Catalans consider that Catalonia has really never been part of Spain "voluntarily", and that their will for independence can be traced back for many centuries. As they see it, they have never been "comfortable" being part of Spain, and have always felt somehow "dominated" (oppressed?) by Madrid and/or Castilian culture.
    • Some put a big emphasis on their obvious differential characteristics (especially in the Catalan language, but also other cultural traits, etc.), which they see as an incontestable proof of the very clear, insurmountable, differences between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.
    • In many cases they consider that, to make things worse, these differences have never been sufficiently acknowledged or "respected" by the Madrid central governments – and even less since the 1714 events. Some might even add that their culture and idiosyncrasy has been historically and systematically persecuted (as was obviously the case during Franco's regime). And that history shows that mutual "understanding" in this aspect is close to impossible.

    2.- Current, or recent past, reasons:

    (These really complement the above, I've separated them in an attempt to be more clear and systematic).

    • Many Catalans, and very particularly the Catalan Government, consider that the current constitutional & legal arrangements are very unfair to them in financial (and fiscal) issues. They believe that Catalonia is "giving" a lot more than what it is "receiving", and that the rest of Spain is taking a disproportionate advantage of the fact that they are one of the richest regions in Spain. They consider that this is impairing their possibilities for growth and development, and also that the Madrid governments are not sensitive to this problem (… and, in fact, seem to ignore it).
    • They also believe (and, again, this is especially true of the Catalan political class) that the successive central governments have a significant tendency to create difficulties in anything that has to do with transfers of responsibilities from Madrid to Barcelona. Very many have been already transferred since the Constitution was approved, but some remain – and often there is no agreement between the parts on whether, or in what respect, those are really within the limits that the Constitution defines.
    • Also, the Government of Catalonia considers that the opinion of Catalans is not respected in significant issues (education is a relevant example), as when Catalan laws are considered "beyond limits" and are appealed against by Madrid and/or the Constitutional Court.

    I think that this covers and summarizes, most aspects.

    —-EDIT (January 2017)—-

    It is not fair to say that “Catalans want to secede from Spain”.

    Some do, but many (as of of today, a majority) don’t. Please see my answer to How likely is it that Catalonia secedes from Spain?

  17. I am Catalan and I do not want to secede. Please note the question is not well formulated, as Catalans are not a block in their opinions, so the way this is formulated is similar as if say you ask “why do blacks like chicken?”.

    Having said that, it is sure that a looot of Catalans want to secede from Spain. Probably as many as half of us, which maybe is as much as the proportion of blacks that enjoy eating chicken. This secessionist hype is something very new, because please note that only 10 years back pro-independence parties were scoring in the 10% range (there have always been pro-independence parties, though, to be fair, even in the short lived II Spanish Republic).

    So why did this get as high as 48% in the last Catalan election in 2015 (note this is their best ever result, there were two general elections afterwards were they did not fare as well)?

    It is very complicated to answer this, but I will try making a long story short: severe economic crisis. Some details below.

    10 years back, Spain’s economy had been growing fast for many years. After Spain joined the euro, interest rates were in a historic low, as they plummeted to German levels whereas they had always been higher.

    People in Spain, and Catalans are no exception, are deeply into real estate ownership, and with this historically low rates, there was a crazy hype of real estate fueled growth. As many people kept buying, real estate kept increasing its price, and people felt richer (roughly 80% of Spaniards own real estate, which is much higher percentage as say Germany).

    Credit crunch came late in 2008, and in 2009 real estate bubble exploded all in a sudden. The Spanish bubble was probably the bigger in the world, note than in 2007 more bricks were laid in Spain than in China and the US combined (no joke here).

    Lots of employees were laid off in construction and real estate, that amounted almost 10% of the value added to the GDP at some point. Obviously, ancillary industries (say door makers and the such) suffered as well, and home owners saw the price of their assets plummet by 35 to 40%.

    This was the perfect storm, as tax revenue also plummeted because people stopped spending massively and started being thrifty. To make things worse, the EU asked recurrently Spain to cut public spending in order to cointain deficits, note Spain cannot “print money” anymore, and the Germans do not want to bail out Spain, that was in the verge of serious bankruptcy by 2013.

    So, we had the worst economic crises since the 30s, and the worse most of us have ever experienced.

    All the above is FACTUAL. And please keep in mind that had this crisis not happened, all the below facts, which are merely anecdotal, would not have led to an independence struggle.

    Now, the anecdotal part: parallel to this severe economic crisis, there was a process to update Catalan “Estatut” (think of this as a Catalan mini-Constitution).

    The Spanish right wing party, PP, which has always poor results in Catalan elections, decided to oppose this update. Even worse, they decided to exploit this to their short term advantage, going as far as asking its militants all over Spain to sign a manifesto against this “Estatut”. That was very irresponsible, short-term thinking.

    You need to think many people in the rest of Spain, where PP gets many votes, kind of dislike Catalans, but say in a similar way American rednecks may dislike Californians. They see us Catalans as arrogant, pedantic, sophisticated fellows that feel superior to them. Besides, many speak a somehow strange language instead of Spanish, which is the national language. Generally speaking, there is some truth in this, but this is generally stupid prejudice that you can find in almost any other country as per my own experience.

    What did eventually happen? PP brought that law to the constitutional court and 14 articles out of more than 200 needed to be amended. No big deal, and seriously 99.9% of Catalans are unable to tell you what this articles are about, but we are thin skinned and many considered this an humiliation.

    As the whole Spain was in such a mess, pro-independence parties saw a window of opportunity. They actively and aggressively campaigned for independence, making dubious or literally false claims about incredibly high transfers of money from Catalonia toward the central government. Note that Catalonia is roughly 19% of Spain’s GDP and 16% of its population.

    Although it is complicated to work out the government expenses in Catalonia (just to give you an example, if the Spanish army buys a new ship, or installs a radar in Valencia, this protects Catalans as well, but the expense is not happening there), Catalonia pays 19% of the taxes and gets roughly 16% of the expense, that is what you can expect in any country managing budgets fairly, and note that this gap is even wider in Madrid area, which is slightly richer than Catalonia.

    Nevermind, the campaign of this rich region that was treated poorly by the rest combined with this country campaign of PP against “Estatut” hit a nerve, and the then Catalan president made some impossible demands to the Spanish PM (PP leader by then), that PP leader would not give in as he had an absolute majority and did not need Catalan votes whatsoever.

    So this Catalan president, who you can more or less define as someone who was pro-federation, decided to surf on the independentist wave and became a hard-core pro-independence leader in a short time. Please note this guy was just an opportunist who wanted to keep his President Chair by rejecting all responsibility on budgetary cuts, imposed by the EU, but he would say that this was all Madrid’s fault.

    Many people were literally so desperate that would buy into this, note that Spain’s PM ratings were in historic lows, the unemployment levels in historic highs, and the Catalan president (right wing) managed to form a coalition with the historic pro-independence party, which is left wing. This strange alliance was formed with a single agenda: independence.

    The Catalan president, whose party was being investigated by many corruption scandals (involving his previous party leader and his family, among others), was almost sure to get an absolute majority, but voters surprised him, and he fell short by some 5 seats in Catalan parliament. He could not get these from say “normal” allies, such as the Socialist Party, because they do not defend independence. So he went to get the missing votes to a fringe, extreme pro-independence kind of anarchist party called CUP.

    CUP put one and one condition only to support a government: that this guy steps aside. They went as far to say anyone but him. He tried to force CUP in many ways to invest him, unsuccessfully. Eventually he stepped aside. Call it karma.

    The guy who was invested as Catalan president instead was a sincere pro-independence, determined fanatic. This was 2 years ago. As much as the previous guy was basically an opportunist, now you had this determined pro-independence person in charge. His agenda: independence referendum or independence referendum. There is nothing else.

    You need to understand, though, that Catalan parliament does not have a competence to declare independence as Catalonia is not (yet) an independent nation. Spanish Constitution, as say 95% of other Constitutions, do not anticipate the case of fractioning sovereignty, which is kind of a legal non-sense, nevertheless, this could be changed with an improbable change in the Spanish Constitution.

    The Catalan President, though, never really lobbied for a constitutional change, because that is too difficult and too time-consuming. He started preparing instead the referendum, for which, I remind you, he does not have a competence, and it is today not possible. Note also that economic conditions have improved in the meantime, and that is even possible that by now pro-independence opinions have cooled down, or so suggest some polls, but it is hard to say.

    So, the Catalan President started doing PR for his referendum, somehow in a hurry and even in other countries, and hired a team to study the (non existent) legal options. As he knew that his demand was not possible under current constitutional means, he decided then to do something illegal. You may be astonished, but this is a fact, the end is worth the means for him, and lots of people are endorsing this.

    Due process mandates that laws that will be voted in the Catalan parliament need to be announced beforehand so that deputies can prepare amendments. But he knew that publishing the law would mean that any deputy would bring the vote to the Constitutional court, that would consider it non constitutonal and the law would not even be voted.

    So this law was presented earlier in September taking advantage of a loophole made for urgent procedures, that makes the announcement of the law unnecessary. With the support of the speaker, an even more fanatic independentist, he got the law voted. Note that not only he got voted a law calling for a referendum like this, but also a sort of “temporary Catalan constitution” that will give him pardon rights, which he does not have, and take over the judiciary branch. A real non-sense, besides this is even against the provisions in “Estatut” which according the pro-independence groups was what started the whole thing.

    Obviously, as anyone can imagine, the Constitutional court has suspended both laws shortly after for being non Constitutional. But this guy considers himself already independent, and says he does not recognize the Constitutional court, but only the act of the Catalan Parliament.

    Note this guy is the President, and has of course an administrative apparatus and a party behind him, and plenty of supporters. So if you see pictures of lot of policemen in Catalan streets, do not be surprised.

    It is almost sure he and his many followers will manage to stage a “referendum” for which there is not a quorum nor a census. Actually, there was already one such thing staged in 2014, for which almost 2 million out of more than 5 million adults voted. The central government kind of tolerated this because there was not the pretension to declare independence by then, but now they pretend they will do.

    So, I can tell you more or less what I think it will happen: the central government will try to put a stop to this “referendum” and they actually have already started doing so. There are 700 Catalan majors that said they will support the logistics of the vote that are endicted. The situation is explosive. If the “referendum” gets more than 2 million votes, the Catalan president will celebrate this as a major “democratic” success. If he gets less than 2 million votes, he will say Spanish repression was so overwhelming that they prevented people casting a free vote.

    So we are in a big mess, created by a severe economic crises, a lot of incompetence and some irresponsible fanatics.

    Please, if something is going to go terribly wrong, which I am sure almost none of us want, do not assume this is some dictatorship preventing people to cast their votes freely, as it is something else entirely: this is a PR stunt.

    Edit1. I have been reading pro-independence answers. Let me make a point: they will all point to abstract kind of grievances (“Catalans” are mistreated by “Madrid”, there is a lot of “hate speech” against “Catalans” -as if this was a concrete body), or they are utterly irrelevant (our most used highway has a toll-fee, the most used Andalusian highway does not have a toll-fee, I once asked directions to a policemen and he answered me in Spanish in my own country, etc.). Ask yourself: are these valid reasons for a secession? Or maybe, just maybe, this is an extreme form of “snow flakism” of people that feel they are not entitled enough privileges? In the upcoming weeks, someone may end up in jail, that will only strengthen this narrative, but beware, the Catalan President is saying in a campaign the Spanish Constitutional Court does not have a ruling in Catalonia, even before their “referendum”!

  18. HISTORY-

    Catalonia was independent region of Iberian Peninsula- modern Spain + Portugal with it’s own language, culture and laws.

    There was a rule of one dictator named General Francisco Franco in Spain. He won the Battle of Ebro in 1938 and he took control of Catalan region, killing more than 3500 Catalan people and many more people had to go into exile. Catalan nationalism was suppressed under the dictatorship of general Franco. But it was re-emerged in 1975 when General Franco died.

    The region was granted autonomy again in 1977 when democracy returned to country.


    Catalonia is strong region of Spain with it’s own language,own culture, own government, own parliament, own president. It is a powerful economy. Barcelona,second largest city after Madrid in Spain is an economic hub of European union and Spain's most industrialized region. Catalonia is one of the wealthiest region of Spain which is contributing 20% GDP of Spain. While Madrid is contributing 17% GDP in Spain.

    But, real problem started in 2008. It was the year of economic crisis in European union. Spain was in debt. Spain is using money of Catalans to repay debt of Spain.

    Spain’s economic woes, coupled with resentment that the region pays billions of euros more in taxes than it receives from Madrid, have pushed secession from the fringes of Catalan politics to centre stage.

    The regional government argues that an independent Catalonia would be richer and better able to protect its language and culture.

  19. All of the above.

    Although the history is complex, Catalans will point to being independent until 1714, and a lot of autonomony since.

    The culture and the mindsight between Catalans and other parts of Spain is distinct. Catalonia was far more of trade and less influenced by the colonial riches. It was also the base of the industrial revolution and less agriculture.

    At various times (especially under Franco) there was harsh repression of Catalonia & speaking the language. this still lingers as resentment & desire for separation.

    The language is different.

    The politics are different. There are Catalan parties elected to Madrd. They might ally with national parties but they are distinct.

    The economy is different. Catalonia is much more prosperous. The economic crisis has made this very pointed, as Catalonia resents paying taxes into central govt for people they see as lazy and a different country.

    In essence a lot of Catalans want independence (52% would vote for independence; 24 against).
    Majority of Catalans favor independence, says poll ahead of Diada national day)

    For avoidance of doubt: I am not saying they are right, I am answering the question about why they want it.

    My personal view on all secession is it is up to the people involved and if they (Scots, Catalans, Eritreans, East Timoreans, or Texans) vote in favour then they should be allowed to seccede.

    And I'm willing to be this will happen in next 20 years.

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