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Catalonia: "The separatists hope to build on the momentum of Scotland"

August 17 category:Europe
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Catalonia: "The separatists hope to build on the momentum of Scotland"

Hundreds of thousands of nationalists demonstrated Thursday in Barcelona to claim the right to decide by a vote on the future of Catalonia in Spain, like Scotland.

REUTERS / Albert Gea

Galvanized by the sharp increase in independence camp in Scotland, supporters of the independence of Catalonia took strength in the street during the Diada, the "national day" of Catalonia on Thursday. They too are calling for a referendum, rejected by Madrid. What distinguishes the aspirations of Catalans from those of Scots. Does the economic crisis has weighed in the rise of separatist aspirations? Analysis of Cyril Trépier, researcher at the French Institute of Geopolitics of Paris 8.

What distinguishes the Scottish dynamics that of Catalonia?

First, south of the Pyrenees, the idea is not independence, as in Scotland, that of a single party, the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Then, the SNP, during his election campaign, the focus less on the quest for independence in itself, as its commitment to conduct an economic policy center left, less liberal than that conducted by London (including health and education). In power for many years, the party of Alex Salmond has also shown its ability to govern well and gave credibility to his independence project in the eyes of the population. In Catalonia, the matter is more complicated since each of the parties supporting independence camped on economic positions and distinct policies.

Who are the supporters of independence in Catalonia?

The struggle for independence is supported by four parties: Convergencia i Unio, the federation center-right in power since the end of 2010; CiU governs alone but with the support of ERC (Republican Left) training center left that made independence a priority; In addition to the pro-independence CUP (Popular Unity Candidates, far left); and eco-communist ICV (Initiative for Catalonia-Greens).

The Catalan branch of the People's Party-at Madrid-power, the CPP and the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC) are against.

With its position as the second party in the region since the collapse of the PSC in 2012, ERC lobbied the autonomous government Artur Mas, ensuring that it does not lose sight of the goal of independence. Troublemaker of Catalan politics, ERC knows a great electoral instability: after a breakthrough in 2003, he joined the government alongside the Socialists, and paid by an electoral setback in 2008. His return to the opposition it has possible to find the benefit of the tribune posture. ERC took the lead in the European elections last May. Which today allows it to force the hand of CiU on the issue of independence.

Beyond the political parties, the idea of ​​independence is widespread in the population and actively defended by several associations, including the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), organizer of Diadas since 2012.

What are the reasons for the success of independence demonstrations since then?

The movement has achieved a high visibility from the Diada of September 11, 2012, but the idea is older and progress has undergone several stages. First when Europe's borders were redrawn after the fall of the Berlin Wall -Independence of the Baltic countries, velvet divorce of the Czechs and Slovaks. More recently, the adverse judgment of the Spanish Constitutional Court on the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia has strengthened the confidence of a fringe opinion.

Does the economic crisis has also weighed in radicalization in favor of independence?

Yes, but the interaction between the economy and the nationalist thrust played both ways. The crisis has strengthened the independence aspirations. The pill of austerity prescribed by Madrid would have been less bitter if Catalonia could make their own economic choices, argue the separatists. For all Catalans who do not know what tomorrow will bring -to Like a large number of citizens from the rest of Spain-the idea that their fate would have been more desirable in an independent Catalonia eventually germinate.

At the same time, the pounding of nationalist discourse, including in schools, has been used to stifle any other topic of conversation. Now, for many, the idea of ​​a Catalan independence does not seem absurd that another face the uncertainties of the future.

London reacted to the increase in independence camp by promising greater powers to Scotland. What to Madrid?

Catalonia enjoys the state more autonomy as Scotland-but lower than the German Länder. Barcelona does not benefit from the tax autonomy granted by the 1978 Constitution to the provinces of the Basque Country and Navarre, who collect the taxes themselves of their citizens. More populous than the two communities, Catalonia [7.5 million against 2.7 for the Basque Country and Navarre], produces a fifth of the national wealth, receives as the other autonomous communities 50% of the taxes paid on its territory. Catalan separatists denounce the difference between the contribution of the region to public revenues of the country and the amounts that are paid to them. But for the moment, Madrid is fiercely opposed to any transfer of additional power in Barcelona.

After the event this Thursday, the standoff around the consultation provided 9 November in Catalonia will also depend on the outcome of the referendum in Scotland?

Of course. But the Catalan leaders are very cautious; they simultaneously consider several options, consultation, of course, but also plebiscitary elections. Unlike London, which has accepted the principle of the Scottish referendum, Madrid opposes an estoppel to Catalonia. Artur Mas wishes to remain in a legal framework and not to alienate the moderates within his party and opinion. But it has to do with the pressure of growing radicals in the sense of a unilateral declaration of independence, in the manner of what was done by Kosovars in 2008. The vote in Scotland September 18 certainly weigh in favor option or the other.

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