Catalonia Moves for Independence

Yes Scotland - JordiWhen the European Union (EU) was created in 1993, it had the ultimate goal of becoming one country. However, there is one major obstacle getting in the way of this goal: the autonomous states and provinces in EU countries that are demanding independence. These states and provinces include Scotland and Catalonia, who have been in the news recently for their polls to gain independence.

Catalonia joined Spain in 1714 after the War of Spanish Succession took over the area. Since then, Catalonia has had a complicated relationship with Spain. Decades of on and off problems have created tension between Spain and some of its autonomous provinces, including Catalonia, Galicia and Basque Country.

The Catalonian independence movement has been going on for years, with some periods of increased tension between Spain. Recently, Catalonia announced that it was going to hold a referendum on November 9 concerning possible independence, something the Spanish government has said it will not stand for. This September, on National Catalan Day, thousands of people flooded the streets of Barcelona in yellow and red, including Spanish international soccer player Gerard Pique. Many people were waving flags saying “1714 – 2014,” implying that they will get their independence this year.

Former assistant principal Ms. Margarita Cruz is of Catalan descent and believes that both sides need to work hard and find a solution. “I think that a country that went through the kind of civil war that Spain had to go through in the 1930s should be able to compromise and find a way to stay connected to the rest of the country,” she said.

The main reason behind the Catalonian independence movement is the country’s different culture and better economy than Spain, so it believes that Catalonia should be allowed to be an independent country. “Catalonians are, as a group, very pro-business, and they are very into finding a way to [achieve] financial success,” said Mrs. Cruz. The Catalan government plans on holding the referendum in November, but there have already been town-held referendums that have resulted in a clear majority vote in favor of independence. “I recognize that there [are], of course, two sides to every issue,” said Mrs. Cruz. “Catalonians look at it one way and the rest of Spain looks at it very differently.”

Spain has said it will block the independence vote if the plans for the referendum go through. One of the biggest arguments against Catalonian independence, with a referendum or not, is that in Spain’s constitution it is said that no country is allowed to break away.

Catalonia is not the only independence movement creating major headlines; Scotland has also recently had a referendum to split from the United Kingdom (UK). However, the referendum came back with a majority “No” vote, meaning that Scotland will continue to be a part of the UK. “I think [the “No” vote] will be positive overall,” said AP European History teacher Mr. Joel Rockwood. “It will make the EU reverse, or at least slow down, its centralization policies.”

Scotland has held independence referendums in the past and has attempted independence movements since joining the UK, though many of them were not effective because there were many undecided voters on the issue. In the most recent referendum last month, people believed that a vote in favor of Scottish independence was finally going to happen. However, that was not the case, with the majority of voters deciding to stay with the UK rather than becoming a separate country.

Many have wondered what the repercussions of Scotland staying with the UK may have on London and the rest of England. Before the referendum, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) chose to move from Edinburgh to London, in fear of a “Yes” vote occurring. Mr. Rockwood believes that the UK will spread its power around its territories rather than just in London. “London will begin to decentralize its power and give much more to Scotland and to Wales,” he said.

Scotland and Catalonia are major regions in Europe that have caused some to worry about other regions demanding independence. The two regions have different circumstances, but their effect on Europe is similar. There is no guarantee that the other independence movements in Europe will create problems, but there is hope that the current referendums will try and stabilize tension. The only question now is, whether or not will Catalonia ever get its independence, or end up like Scotland.