The Phaserl


Spain is Holding Catalonia Hostage

from The Daily Bell:

Imagine you are in a book club. For a few years, it was great, you liked the books and the discussion with members. But then, the club started reading steamy romance novels that you just weren’t into and would not entertain your opinions for other material. Finally, when you can’t relate to the discussion on the texts anymore, you decide to leave the club.

But then, the book club President locks the door and tells you to sit down. You will remain in the club, the other members tell you, whether you like it or not. You will read the romance novels which don’t interest you, and you will contribute your monthly dues, by force if necessary.

As ridiculous as that would be, that is the attitude of Spain, and many other countries, when it comes to regions wishing to secede and form their own country. Why should regions be kept in the larger “club” against their will?

Catalonia is a region in Spain bordering France and the Mediterranean Sea, that has been independent at times in history. The modern movement for independence began almost 100 years ago, but the region settled for autonomy instead of full-fledged independence.

In 2006, Catalonia drafted a revised Statute of Autonomy, many parts of which were ruled unconstitutional by the Spanish high court. This sparked calls for Catalonia to entirely secede from Spain, instead of settling for “autonomy.”

Spain however, doesn’t even want the people of Catalonia to talk about or think about secession. The former President of Catalonia defied the Spanish government when he held a referendum to form a new country of Catalonia. 35% of eligible voters turned out in the region with a population of 7.5 million.

The informal vote was opposed by Mariano Rajoy’s government in Madrid and was held in defiance of Constitutional Court ruling five days ahead of the poll that the referendum was illegal. Around 2.3 million people in Catalonia cast a ballot in the plebiscite with 80.7 percent voting for independence.

The non-binding referendum was held in 2014, and because of it, earlier this year Spain barred former Catalan President Artur Mas from holding public office for two years and fined him €36,500.

Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy has called Catalonia’s efforts to break away “an unacceptable attempt to blackmail the state.” Spain’s constitution makes it illegal for regions to seek independence.

Yet the government of Catalonia remains defiant, promising the people a binding referendum for September of this year in which voters can decide if Catalonia will break away from Spain.

Spain will attempt to prevent that referendum from being held, even though polls consistently indicate 80% of Catalonians want to be allowed to vote on the issue.

Just in case Spain is successful in obstructing the people from voicing their will, the Catalan government has drafted a bill that would declare its independence from Spain, officially making Catalonia its own country.

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