If not precisely inevitable, Catalan independence now seems much more likely than it did a couple of years back when I first framed my questions for supporters and opponents of Catalan separatism.
Many of those questions remain valid. But my main focus has shifted. This reduced list should read as a demand from those leading and supporting the independence movement that they for once and for all clarify various matters that I believe worry many people currently. Because if Catalonia really will be the ‘Next State in Europe’, these matters need to be clarified now, not later.
1 – What social model will an independent Catalonia have?
While the right are currently in power, and have governed for the majority of Catalonia’s post-Franco years, there is a significant section of Catalan society that supports parties of the left. We’re deeply unhappy about the cuts that Artur Mas has made to public health, education, social assistance and public sector pay during the financial crisis. Mas has blamed these cuts on Spain’s mishandling of the national economy. Very well: if that is true, he must now guarantee to restore, improve and protect public sending and investment in the event of independence.
2 – Will you now, and forever, forgo all claims on the territories in Spain and France sometimes referred to as the Catalan Countries?
I shouldn’t need to explain the importance of this question. The only chance of success as a state depends on France’s and Spain’s recognition. That won’t happen unless you formally reject territorial claims on Rosselló, Valencia, the Franja and the Balearics.
3 – What status for non-Spanish residents in Catalonia?
OK, this is a personal one, but it affects lots of people and many businesses. Will you now guarantee our status as permanent residents? What chances for citizenship will we have?
As part of my apparently ongoing series of Questions for a Catalan Independentist, this post poses a question that wasn’t in my original post.
Actually, this is a topic I’ve been thinking about grillz recently, thanks to the input of an uninterested friend who knows something about geopolitics in Europe. Indeed, it’s one issue that I don’t think I’ve ever seen answered by Catalan independentists. It comes down to a simple problem: would France ever allow an independent Catalan state to be declared on its border?
Before you start immediately by saying “I don’t care, they’ll just have to accept it”, allow me to offer some thoughts. France is one of the two key powers in Europe. It’s on the UN Security Council. It’s a centre for international diplomacy. Isn’t it likely that should France choose to block the establishment of a new state on its borders (and one which, let’s face it, would likely have at least some parliamentarians dedicated to the restoration of Catalunya Nord to the Catalan state), is there anything Catalonia could really do? Not being recognised by Spain is of huge importance. Not being recognised by France might be difficult to overcome.
So the question is: What about France? Do you really think France would stand for what it might see as the first of several new states springing up on its borders? Doesn’t this gravely affect the independence argument?
In just over a week, many Catalan towns will hold ‘consultaions’ about Catalan independence. These consultations (consultes) take the form of a mock referendum. They’re not legally binding in any way, and voting in them is so open that even I can join in! The thing about these consultations is that they do make it feel (however superficially) like Catalonia is starting to seriously consider its status as part of Spain. The organisers and political groups involved are certainly keen to make it look like that, at any rate.
On this blog, I’ve been careful to avoid a categorical endorsement of Catalan independence for many reasons. So I decided to ask some open questions to anyone interested in answering them. And you don’t have to be in favour of Catalan independence to take part: if you think you’ve got a point to make, make it. I plan to do something similar directed at opponents of independence over the next few days. Feel free to answer whichever of the questions you like.
- Why should Catalonia be independent?
- What exactly do you think will be gained if Catalonia becomes independent?
- What model do you see an independent Catalonia adopting? Some sort of republic? How would it be organised?
- Do you think that the current crisis is a good time to decide something like this? Why?
- What damage do you think this would do to Spain? Do you worry about that?
- Is an independent Catalonia an economically viable state?
- What should the process be in the result of a vote in favour of independence?
- What should be the status of Spanish citizens in Catalonia? Would dual citizenship be allowed?
- What about immigrants? Would they become citizens? What would the immigration policy be?
- Would you expect all the political parties in Catalonia to break ties with their Spanish equivalents?
- What would happen if the EU had trouble accepting Catalonia as a member?
- What would happen to Catalan government agencies aimed at trade and business? Would they be absorbed by embassies?
- Who would be the head of state? Would you deny Juan Carlos’s claim to sovereignty?
- Would the Catalan constitution guarantee the right to receive state services in Castilian Spanish?
- How would you deal with people potentially wanting to leave for Spain proper?
- What flag would you have? Senyera or Estelada?
- What would happen to utilities like the phone/data system?
- What sort of rights would be included in the constitution anyway?
- How would you deal with other parts of the ‘Catalan Countries’? Would you seek their absorption?
- How important would the status of FC Barcelona be? Do you think the Spanish league would still have them?
- Would you bother with armed forces? If so, how?
- What would happen if there was a Spanish boycott of independent Catalonia?
- What would happen if there was a Spanish military response?
- Can a constituent part of an EU and NATO member even declare independence?
- Would you demand that companies trading in Catalonia establish separate entities in Catalonia? How?
And that’s enough for now. I know that I’ve asked a lot of questions. But these are just some of the questions that will be asked should Catalonia approach a genuine referendum.
So, what do you say?