It’s like the Spanish version of Kashmir wanting to be independent from the country. Catalonia was an independent region of the Iberian Peninsula – modern Spain and Portugal – with its own language, laws and customs. In 1150, the marriage of Petronilia, Queen of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona formed a dynasty with their son to inherit all territories concerning the region of Aragon and Catalonia. This lasted until the reign of King Philip V. The War of the Spanish Succession ended with the defeat of Valencia in 1707, of Catalonia in 1714, and finally with the last of the islands in 1715 – resulting in the birth of modern-day Spain. The region of Catalonia, situated in the north east of Spain, is an autonomous region with its own political, legal and cultural structures dating back centuries. The Catalan language isn’t even a dialect of Spanish and is spoken by nine million people in Catalonia, Valenica, the Balearic Isles and Andorra.
The independence movement, led by the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, argues that Catalonia has a moral, cultural, economic and political right to self-determination. Its supporters feel their rich region of 7.5 million people has long put more into Spain’s progress than it has received in exchange for it. Here are two factors that have led them to want to be an independent nation:
Firstly, the reasons for a region to disseminate is always political. Today Catalonia has its own parliament and executives have their extensive autonomy. But Catalan pro-independence parties have long been advocating for complete independence from the Spanish state. In 2014 an informal vote found that 80 percent of those living in the region were in favour of independence for Catalonia. Catalan politicians have mentioned the non-binding vote should pave the way for a formal referendum, sparking outrage from the central government in Madrid. This year the Catalan regional government stated its intention to have a ballot on independence on 1 October, which has been described as illegal by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Secondly, as always after political reasons are economic reasons. Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest and most industrialised regions. The region is home to Barcelona, a vibrant economic and cultural hub as well as a popular tourist destination. Its thriving manufacturing, food-processing, metalworking and chemical industries, along with a growing service sector, make it Spain’s economic powerhouse. 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. Thus, it contributes to 20 percent of Spain’s output.
Against this background of tension, however, there is little political debate about the reasons that led a significant number of Catalans — around 41 percent, according to the Catalan government-funded Centre d’Estudis d’Opinió (CEO) — to be willing to disseminate from Spain. Spain’s deputy prime minister flatly dismissed suggestions that Catalonia could declare independence within 48 hours of the referendum result. “The [Catalan] government can spend 30 days explaining the referendum law or judicial transience and it can say that it can declare independence in 48 hours,” said Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría on Tuesday. According to me, it does have sound reasons to want to disseminate from Spain. It is certainly long-lived. It has its own language, a recorded history of more than 1,000 years as a distinct region, and a population nearly as big as Switzerland's (7.5 million). It been long subjected to periodically repressive campaigns to make it “more Spanish”. Also, GDP wise, it does appear to give more than it gets. Spanish government data from 2011 state the region paid €8.5bn (£6bn) more than it got back. According to the Catalan government, the discrepancy was closer to €11.1bn. Valid enough reason!