1.5 million protestors demand Catalan autonomy
September 12, 2012 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Huge crowds gathered yesterday on the streets of Barcelona to demand autonomy for Catalonia. Police estimated that 1.5 million people protested.

The Catalan separatist movement is motivated by the idea that Catalonia's rich culture, history, and language is distinct from Spain's. The movement has historical roots and gained steam in modern times in response to Franco's oppression of Catalonia. September 11, the National Day of Catalonia (which commemorates and honors the defenders of Barcelona defeated in the 1714 Seige of Barcelona by the troops of Philip V of Spain -- a remembrance that was also not observed under Franco's rule), is today an occasion of annual protests calling for Catalonia's independence. The enormous turnout this year is attributable in part to Spain's economic crisis, fueling demands for fiscal autonomy.
posted by Westringia F. (48 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Shhh, Quebec is listening.
posted by Fizz at 11:35 AM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

The entirety of my knowledge of Catalonian culture consists of the fact that Sopa de Cabra, who provide the music in this delightful video of an owl and a kitten playing together, sing in Catalan. I believe that the owl and kitten are also Catalonian, so I guess that's two things.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:36 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

And Scotland too, n'est-ce pas?
posted by Apocryphon at 11:37 AM on September 12, 2012

I'm pretty certain that Scotland is not Catalonian.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:38 AM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Caladonian, maybe.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

I've just been robbed of my only sheep, the barbarians will be here any turn, and now I have to deal with a separatist movement? This new Catan expansion sounds really hard.
posted by oulipian at 11:44 AM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

I wonder if an independent Quebec would/could just jump right into NAFTA.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2012

I'd favor independence for both Catalonia and Scotland, preferably with Scotland taking the U.K.'s north sea oil reserves.

I'm fine with rich countries bribing separatist regions to remain loyal, like those German speaking Italians, but these comparatively well off regions should simply be separate countries.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2012

Whew - at first I thought it said 1.5 million ARRESTED. Like dayum!

If this takes off... Nah, I'll reserve my snark and spare my mefi siblings in the US South and prevent the usual flaming around said issue ;)
posted by symbioid at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2012

If you zoome ouSlap*Happy: "Caladonian, maybe."

Homage to Caladonia?
posted by symbioid at 11:52 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would having two separate countries be a net win for the overall economics of the region? I've never been clear on this. Politics and legalities, would this just split the pie into smaller, less mobile pieces? Or does it actually grow the pie?
posted by Carillon at 11:53 AM on September 12, 2012

But... then... there'll be no more Clásicos?

posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Those pictures are wonderful! Good luck to Catalunya!
posted by Jehan at 12:02 PM on September 12, 2012

In my reading of history, when a group of like minded citizens, sharing a common cujltujral heritage, and a way of viewing their world want to leave a larger grouping or nation, it is best to let them go peacefully. Look what happened when we went to war to keep the South in our nation. We have suffered from our mistake ever since.
posted by Postroad at 12:02 PM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

Why sure, I'd be happy to share my superficial observations and sentiments!

1. Pablo Casals kicked ass.

2. Pa amb Tomaquet kicks ass.

3. The Catalonians seem to do a much better job of keeping their coastline lovely than does the rest of Spain.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:03 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is what happens when you have massive youth unemployment. People have the time to protest stuff.
posted by srboisvert at 12:05 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I actually read this as 'protesters demanding Catan autonomy'. Whew. Damned settlers!
posted by PolarHermit at 12:14 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

If they let the Catalan go, they have to cut the Basques loose also. Where will it end?
posted by Renoroc at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2012

Possible conspiracy by other countries to divide and conquer the Spanish National football team? Of course they have so much depth that both teams might still beat everyone else.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2012

haveanicesummer: "Possible conspiracy by other countries to divide and conquer the Spanish National football team? Of course they have so much depth that both teams might still beat everyone else."

Maybe there could be a unified Spanish team, like the Irish do in rugby.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2012

Huge crowds gathered yesterday on the streets of Barcelona to demand autonomy for Catalonia.
Catalonia (English /kætəˈloʊniə/, /kætəˈloʊnjə/; Catalan: Catalunya [kətəˈɫuɲə] or [kataˈluɲa]; Spanish: Cataluña [kataˈluɲa]; Occitan: Catalonha [kataˈluɲɔ]) is an autonomous community of Spain...
posted by Sys Rq at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2012

Huge crowds gathered yesterday on the streets of Barcelona to demand autonomy for Catalonia.
Catalonia (English /kætəˈloʊniə/, /kætəˈloʊnjə/; Catalan: Catalunya [kətəˈɫuɲə] or [kataˈluɲa]; Spanish: Cataluña [kataˈluɲa]; Occitan: Catalonha [kataˈluɲɔ]) is an autonomous community of Spain...

Certainly within Europe, it's a spectrum. Catalunya is self-governing to an extent, but wants to be more so. At some point it will be its own country. Look at the UK, where Wales and Scotland both have self-government, but Scotland more than Wales.
posted by Jehan at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2012

Hmm. This country as we now know it was born just 40 years ago on the basis of compromise among very different ideas of the state, as you can read in Article 2 of the Spanish constitution:

"La Constitución se fundamenta en la indisoluble unidad de la Nación española, patria común e indivisible de todos los españoles, y reconoce y garantiza el derecho a la autonomía de las nacionalidades y regiones que la integran y la solidaridad entre todas ellas."

The Constitution is founded on the inextricable unity of the Spanish nation, common and undivisible homeland of every Spaniard, and recognizes and gurantees the right of autonomy of the nationalities and regions that integrate it and the solidarity among them.

Semantics where important back then, as they are now. I can picture Miquel Roca fighting to have nationalities there, Sole Tura for solidarity, and yes, Cisneros or Fraga for undivisible.

I don't like the taxes argument that we hear so much these days. It's short-sighted, it's manipulative of the people, both Catalan and non-Catalan. Fact is, the catalan government failed to balance its accounts, and now needs 5 billion € that "were theirs in the first place", according to them of course. Should I claim my taxes back on account that I have a mortgage to pay? Solidarity used to be more than just a word, people died in its name in this country. Of course many years ago, who cares.

I'd like to see a real debate, not just superficial arguments that only serve to hurt the people. During these 40 years, catalan parties have had a huge say in Spanish politics; they usually meant the key vote for the minority governement. Many times they asked to manage more money, and many times they got what they wanted. But it was not very often that they came to the congress with a constitutional amendment proposal in order to begin an independence process.

Make it real! go to congress! live up to the expectations of your voters! or could it be that this is the way you deviate the attention from what mediocre politicians you are, what corrupt politicians you are, how very Spanish you turned out to be.
posted by valdesm at 1:03 PM on September 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Occitania will rise again!
posted by TheTingTangTong at 1:06 PM on September 12, 2012

Europe is investing heavily in Scottish infrastructure, waiting for political dividends when it becomes independent of the UK and joins EU and maybe even the Nordic countries.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2012

From the BBC link:-

Here some left-wing pro-independence protesters burn the Spanish flag, as well as the flag of France, which borders Catalonia's north.

Whatever you're protesting it's always safest to burn the French flag too, just in case.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:18 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did they not just ask for a "5bn euro bailout" from the state? I do not get it.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:35 PM on September 12, 2012

This has been debated for years. A large part of the issue is that Catalunia has a lot of industry whereas, say, Andalucia is very agricultural. The culture of Catalunia is very distinct from, again, Andalucia. The Catalanes have always thought they support the rest of the country, the rest of the country sees Catalunia as elitist.

There were major debates over who would pay for the AVE high speed rail line between Madrid-Barcelona. "Spain" thinks it paid for the line, Catalanes think THEY paid for it. Now the Catalanes are pulling for a bailout from Madrid - but they really want nothing else to do with the rest of the country? Yeah....not so much.

Fact is, they are joined at the hip and really need to work out their differences. It's going to be hard, but necessary.
posted by tgrundke at 1:49 PM on September 12, 2012

Woah, 1.5 million? Google says population is only 7.5 million. 20% turnout is crazy.
posted by Garm at 2:12 PM on September 12, 2012

Five years ago, almost all of my Catalan friends were in favor of independence as an idea, but they didn't think it was practical and didn't pay much attention to it. They didn't feel Spanish, but they were willing to accept being ruled by Spain because they couldn't see any alternative.

In the last year, practically everyone I know has swung hard over to being pro-independence. There are a lot of different reasons, some of them pretty minor ones, but they add up to a change so strong and so fast that it's taking both politicians and the media by surprise.

The spark for the change happened two years ago with the collapse of the new Statute for Catalonia. All the Catalan parties came together in 2004 to collectively negotiate more local control over education, immigration, taxes, and a host of other issues. The Catalans were proud that they were trying to resolve their disputes with the government in Madrid via negotiations rather than the violence adopted by the Basques. The agreement was approved by the Catalan Parliament, the Spanish Parliament, and then a referendum. Everyone was optimistic and the independentistas were marginalized, until the Constitutional Court abolished the agreement.

Almost half a million people came out to protest in Barcelona. My wife, who is usually quiet about these things, insisted that we go, and the mood was a mix of anger, betrayal, and solidarity, combined with general surprise that so many people felt the same way. A lot of signs read, "Ens pixem a la cara", "they're pissing on our face". The local politicians had a hard time explaining that they had committed everything to a multi-year negotiation that resulted in nothing. But less than half of the Catalan flags that people were waving had the white star that signifies independence.

Yesterday's protest was the next step from the one two years ago. People have concluded that Spain was never sincere about allowing the Catalans any form of self-government that matters, and so independence is the only alternative.

The change in national politics also has a lot to do with the change in mood. Whereas the Socialists tried to calm and co-opt the Catalan desire for more self-government, the current ruling party, the PP, is conservative, nationalist, and anti-Catalan. Their rhetoric and actions make Catalans feel threatened. On the island where I live, which is not part of Catalonia but where people have spoken a local dialect of Catalan for over 500 years, the new PP government's first act was to change the name of the capital city from the local language back to Spanish. They're spending money on changing all the signs, and people here are pissed off even though they know it's just a symbolic issue.

With the crisis, the economic issues have become more important as well. The argument goes as follows: Catalonia sends 8% more of its GDP to Madrid than it receives, more than any American state or German Lander (where transfers are limited by the federal constituion to 4% of GDP). That would cover the Catalan deficit completely. Instead, Catalonia is in the absurd position of sending aid to the rest of the country and then having to ask for a bailout.

Infrastructure spending is another serious sore point. Catalans travel to other parts of Spain and see brand-new highways, high-speed train lines, and infrastructure for freight and industry that they can only dream about. Almost all of the roads and trains that connect Catalonia to France and the rest of Europe haven't been improved in decades. The EU has approved funds to create a modern freight link from the Mediterranean ports to France, but the central government is blocking the project because they want to connect Spain to France by running a direct line from Madrid through the Pyrenees, bypassing Catalonia and the coast. Catalans feel that centralist politics take priority over economic development.

Last night I had drinks with a friend who grew up in a pro-fascist family in Barcelona, who understands the Catalan language but never speaks it, and who has always supported the PP. In short, the last person I ever thought would support independence. She told me that even though she thinks that the cultural issues are overblown, the economic treatment of Catalonia is so outrageous that she's come around to supporting independence. Another Spanish-identified PP supporter told me that if Catalonia can switch from being controlled by the corrupt politicians in Madrid to the corrupt politicians in Barcelona, at least the corrupt spending would get recycled back into the local economy.

What's happening is that the Overton Window has moved and people can talk publicly about independence. Jordi Pujol, who ran Catalonia for over 20 years on the idea of always staying within Spain, came out in favor of independence last year. Yesterday, Pep Guardiola, probably the most popular man in Catalonia, sent a message of support. Several Catalan government ministers also attended the protest despite the fact that their party is not officially pro-independence.

Meanwhile, people don't think that Catalan independence will happen anytime soon, but they are starting to think that a multi-year struggle is getting off the ground. Yesterday a cheesy American singer sang "We Shall Overcome" in English and Catalan, and there were lots of signs pointing out that Kosovo has already won its independence.

So what happens next? Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia, stayed out of the protest yesterday and is asking for a renegotiation of the fiscal pact with Madrid. No one believes that the government in Madrid will concede anything, but he has to play out the game. My guess is that he might have to resign and call elections if he doesn't obtain any concessions by the end of this year. The PP has traditionally handled Catalan demands by overreacting strongly and closing the door on any further autonomy, but I hope that this time around they'll understand that the public mood has changed significantly and that strategy could provoke a conflict that gets uglier and uglier over time.
posted by fuzz at 2:57 PM on September 12, 2012 [33 favorites]

fuzz: thanks for the very interesting background.

I snapped this picture ("Thanks, France") in a Catalan train station the day after France beat Spain in the 2006 World Cup; it's what I think of every time this comes up, but obviously it's a deeper matter than football and graffiti can capture.
posted by louie at 3:08 PM on September 12, 2012

Postroad: "When a group of like minded citizens, sharing a common cujltujral heritage, and a way of viewing their world want to leave a larger grouping or nation, it is best to let them go peacefully. Look what happened when we went to war to keep the South in our nation"

What? Spain is (today) not a slave society, with an economic model reliant upon continued expansion of slave-tilled production territory to juice economic growth. The early USA faced an existential crisis, with the likes of South Carolina and Georgia (after the slave owners grabbed control from Oglethorpe in 1749) acting like a metastatic node in its body politic, and in effect dedicated to remodelling the USA's political and economic landscape into one more closely resembling the "mature" Caribbean slave economies and away from a Republican model.

Of course, if the early USA had not featured, as today, such a vocal element opposed to centralised government intervention, then it might have followed the British example and "abolished" slavery through the simple (and profitable to the slave owners) expedient of nationalising slavery itself, appropriating the assets, and then "freeing" them. That might have avoided a lot of bloodshed, and might in the end have proved less expensive than civil warfare.
posted by meehawl at 3:44 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yhe argument goes as follows: Catalonia sends 8% more of its GDP to Madrid than it receives, more than any American state...

Not even close.
posted by novalis_dt at 3:51 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Collons, those are some interesting (and huge) numbers. The idea of America as a nation is stronger than I thought. It would be nice if the Catalans and the rest of Spain felt enough mutual affinity to support that kind of solidarity. I was just repeating the story I keep hearing, which is why I said "The argument goes as follows".

But the discrepancy might be explainable by the difference in how US states and Spanish autonomous regions are funded. In Spain, half of all income taxes go to Madrid, and the other half go to the regions, which are then responsible for funding health care, unemployment, and other personal transfer payments. Decisions on how to spend that local money are divided between Madrid and the regions in a way I haven't understood yet. So the 8% is coming out of items not included in those statistics for the US, such as highway development, aid to businesses, and even outright nonpayment to the region of the taxes collected on their behalf (which they tried earlier this year to the tune of several hundred million euros).
posted by fuzz at 4:17 PM on September 12, 2012

Thanks for you comment above fuzz, that's some interesting politics there.
posted by Jehan at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2012

My wife: "They're gonna name this another fucking holiday, aren't they?"
posted by neuron at 8:08 PM on September 12, 2012

Yeah, thanks fuzz, the insight from someone local(ish) is appreciated.
posted by immlass at 9:23 PM on September 12, 2012

Thanks fuzz you´ve written what I was searching for to link to.
Madrid is terrified of loosing Catalunya because as you so rightly point out, if this region goes off on its own they will have to find funding for Andalucia, Murcia and Estremadora from somewhere else.
The Catalan work ethic is much nearer that of N. Europe as is obvious to anyone who spends any time there. It already is a separate state in all but statute and I believe that by becoming Independent would flourish. I am a little worried that the Islands might become second class citizens as here they don´t really like Catalunya preferring to be governed by decisions made by local Hotel money mixed with their own highly corrupt elite. Ibiza as you kow is a private Matutes fiefdom and here in Mallorca local corruption is deeply embedded. Menorca has always seemed a cut above that.
posted by adamvasco at 10:59 PM on September 12, 2012

Not even close.

I don't think that diagram gives us enough info to compare these figures. That diagram shows dollars of support vs dollars of taxes paid. It doesn't show a relationship to GDP. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. (Is 70% of a state's tax receipts > 8% of its GDP?)
posted by pompomtom at 12:00 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

fuzz, you echo some misleading facts in your comment.

Regarding the autonomy Statute, where do you get it was abolished by the Constitutional Court? it was deemed constitutional, with the exception of a few articles having to do with Catalonia breaching the rights of the rest of the Spaniards (natural resources, prohibiting the use of Castilian, etc). These few modified articles were an attempt at having all the pros of independence but none of the cons.

The infrastructure that Catalans dream about, frankly I have no idea what you (they?) could be talking about. I can only think of the highway tolls that some Catalans only think exist in Catalonia (Asturias-Madrid is 40 euros in tolls roundtrip).

And then there's the trite issue of the fiscal balance between regions. How is that 8% measured? do you realize it's a futile exercise, and its methodology has been rightfully questioned? Individual income tax is paid by individuals, not regions; the idea being that big earners pay more. That money is used to allow every citizen access to basic social rights like healthcare, education, etc. Business tax -again- does not discriminate per region, so for a society based in Madrid that operates 100% in Catalonia, all it's activity would be accounted for Madrid. Now, which would be the biggest market for most Catalan businesses? Spain, of course. After independence, Catalonia would get that 8% back alright. But it will be 8% of a much smaller cake. Not only for the taxes that Catalan business would have to start paying specifically to Spain, but for the possibly dramatic drop in sales.

It's actually no surprise that in times of economic distress, the people turn to nationalistic ideas. If you look at 20th century European history, I don't think this ever ended up well. If 2 years ago most of the population had no compelling reason to demonstrate and now they do, I would be (and I am) really worried about what kind of feeling is propelling this, and how healthy this is for Catalan and Spanish society.
posted by valdesm at 12:58 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

fuzz, we can sum up your grievances as follows:

a) The new Estatut, approved by referendum in Catalonia, was allegedly rejected by the Spanish Constitutional Court;
b) Catalonia pays more into the common pot than it gets out of it;
c) As a result, Catalan infrastructures are underdeveloped.

Now, regarding a), it must be noted that, as valdesm notes, the Constitutional Court went out of its way not to reject the Estatut outright, and also that its objections surprised no-one, because those parts of the new Estatut were in quite obvious contradiction with the Spanish Constitution. Now, I'm no constitutional fetishist, and I do quite agree that it may be time to update the Spanish Constitution. But the whole purpose of having a Constitution (and a Constitutional Court), is to have a common set of agreed rules which no single group can derogate unilaterally. Otherwise, the next thing you'd have is Marchioness Aguirre reintroducing serfdom and tithing in the Madrid region. Not a good idea. This is why the whole way the Estatut was handled by Catalan politicians (and, I'm afraid, Catalan voters) was ass-backwards.

Regarding b): Spain has a highly developed welfare state, which has a cost. This cost is met by a progressive income tax. People in Catalonia have, in average, significantly more income than people in most other regions of Spain. It is thus unsurprising that, as a whole they end up paying more than they get back. In this, Catalonia is not exactly alone. As it happens, the Madrid region pays even more, both per capita and in absolute terms, than Catalonia (and BTW, your 8% figure is somewhat controversial). At least, Marchioness Aguirre is more honest about how she'd like to end this state of things (namely, by slashing the welfare state and cutting taxes to the rich), but the end result is in fact the same. It is one of the most perplexing characteristics of Spanish politics (and, indeed, Franco's most poisonous legacy), that left-wingers feel compelled to support what are extremely reactionary nationalist positions in Catalonia and the Basque Country. But in fact, Artur Mas' position is nothing more and nothing less than what Margaret Thatcher once chanted at the European level: "I want my money back". Give him a wig, a handbag and a pearl necklace, and the similarity would be troubling (except that Thatcher wasn't simultaneously asking for a bailout).

Regarding c), most outsiders visiting Catalonia will be surprised by your assertion that Catalan infrastructures are underdeveloped. A lack of infrastructures is, right now, the least of problems throughout Spain, Catalonia included. But complaining about your neighbours having better infrastructures than you is pretty much a national sport in Spain (indeed, I can remember how my region used to complain how the public works minister, a Catalan at the time, was sabotaging "vital" infrastructure projects). Not for nothing has envy always been considered Spain's capital sin. The result has been, throughout Spain, a glut of white elephants and plenty of corruption to go with them. Indeed, Catalonia's precarious fiscal situation can be very directly traced back to quite blatant corruption even by Spanish standards. For Artur Mas and his notoriously crooked CiU party, the pro-independence agitation is an extremely welcome distraction from the headlines about the Palau scandal, and I'm sure that the politicians in the neighbouring (and scandal-plagued) Balearics and Valencia would love to have such distractions.

In short, patriotism remains the last refuge of the scoundrel, in Barcelona as much as in Madrid...
posted by Skeptic at 1:16 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, hey fuzz!

Apparently Barroso said that a new country (think Scotland, Catalunya) would have to apply to be a EU member and not retain EU status automatically. The article says that a Brussels spokesman retracted a similar statement, apparently due to the Catalan protest, but Barroso did not retract his words.

This is anecdotal, but I've noticed a greater push to use catalan in Barcelona and I think people might be overestimating the appeal of learning a new language of 10 million speakers compared to castellano with its 400 million speakers, 50 of which speak it as a foreign language. Barcelona has been promoted as an open-minded city for a couple of decades and I'm not sure nationalism does that image any favours.

Here is a list of unemployment and gross product statistics for each community.
posted by ersatz at 3:35 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't understand what's the interest in retaining them as part of Spain. They clearly want out, and holding potential nations inside their mother country once they have declared their desire for independence has never worked well in the past. I also think that, should they ever get what they want, they will come to realize the grass is not always greener on the other side...
posted by alvarete at 4:25 AM on September 13, 2012

Apparently Barroso said that a new country (think Scotland, Catalunya) would have to apply to be a EU member and not retain EU status automatically.

It is, of course, strictly true. The EU Treaty is a treaty between states, and while Spain is a signatory, Catalonia isn't one for the simple reason that it isn't a state (yet).

They clearly want out

That depends on what you understand as "them". Firstly, opinion polls don't show such an overwhelming support, but a more or less 50/50 split, unevenly distributed across the region. And take into account that people are more likely to choose the more adventurous option answering an opinion poll than in real life.

Secondly, die-hard Catalan nationalists would like the independence not just of Catalonia properly speaking, but of the "Catalan Countries", which would also include, apart from the French Roussillon, the neighbouring regions of Valencia and the Balearics, plus a small slice of Aragon, and possibly even the currently independent country of Andorra. But, as it happens, the populations of those neighbouring regions are very overwhelmingly anti-independence. Indeed, Valencia is a stronghold of the Spanish conservative PP party, and likes to taunt Catalans with the -quite spurious- pretence that Valencian is a separate language from Catalan. As for the Andorrans, they're very content with their current role as a tax haven.

So, it isn't quite so simple. There is a lot of bargaining and public posturing involved, and even nationalist politicians can be extremely ambiguous about whether they'd like independence, more autonomy, or that vaguest of figures, "self-determination".

On the other hand, the current Spanish government, and indeed the whole current political class in Spain, is so bloody incompetent that this could easily run out of hand.
posted by Skeptic at 4:42 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

So, it isn't quite so simple. There is a lot of bargaining and public posturing involved, and even nationalist politicians can be extremely ambiguous about whether they'd like independence, more autonomy, or that vaguest of figures, "self-determination".

I know, I can't help but think this is just the political class stirring their constituency to distract them from the bigger issues, like "Hey, Catalonia is broke", or "Hey, we don't want to cut the budget for our TV stations". I know people that favor the independency of Catalonia, and even they can't seem to articulate clearly what they want. I, for one, would love to see them get what they are asking for, just to see them backpedal and redefine what they were asking for in the first place.
posted by alvarete at 6:45 AM on September 13, 2012

If they let the Catalan go, they have to cut the Basques loose also. Where will it end?

With national boundaries drawn along something approaching linguistic and cultural lines, rather than arbitrarily by a bunch of dead aristocrats?

The horror.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:23 AM on September 13, 2012

With national boundaries drawn along something approaching linguistic and cultural lines, rather than arbitrarily by a bunch of dead aristocrats?

Except that "linguistic and cultural lines", where there is such a thing, were drawn arbitrarily by the same bunch of dead aristocrats. Usually by what's known today as "ethnic cleansing".

Incidentally, there are no such clear linguistic and cultural lines separating Catalonia and the Basque Country from the rest of Spain. On one hand, Catalonia is still pretty much bilingual, and Basque is actually a minority language in the Basque Country. On the other hand, both Catalan and Basque are spoken beyond those regions and even beyond Spain (both languages spill across the French border). Obtaining national boundaries drawn along anything approaching "linguistic and cultural lines" would not just imply moving the borders. It would also imply moving a whole bunch of people (see above).
posted by Skeptic at 9:11 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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