Tensions Flare During Catalonian Crisis


Independence protesters seen here making their opinions heard. (Liz Castro/Wikimedia)

The Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont declared Catalonia independent of Spain on October 10, 2017.    In response, Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s Prime Minister, threatened to take control of Catalonia if Puigdemont did not cede to Spanish authority.  

About 90 percent of Catalans who participated in the election voted for a breakaway from Spain in a referendum on October 1. However, turnout was only 43 percent due to boycotts and voter suppression. Hundreds of people were injured at polling stations in confrontations with police who tried to prevent citizens from voting as the referendum had been declared illegal by the Spain’s central government. Some observers felt that the harsh treatment of Catalan protesters had weakened the Rajoy administration by stirring up sympathy for the pro-independence movement. However, after King Juan Carlos gave a speech in which he strongly condemned the Catalan secessionist movement, popular support for the central government rebounded.  

Catalonia’s foreign minister, Raül Romeva, stated that the government was ready to have dialogue with the Spanish state. He said, “We’ve always said that if there’s a way to do it, either directly or through mediation, we’re prepared to do sit down and talk.

Catalonian independence would greatly reduce Spain’s manufacturing output and economic wealth since Catalonia exports more products than any other region in Spain and accounts for 20 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product. Secession could also grow increasingly complicated as Catalonia would have to assume a portion of the national debt. If this were the case, the region would be responsible for a percentage of Spain’s national debt based on the region’s gross domestic product compared to the national domestic product. A fiscal compromise based on that ratio could cause Catalonia’s sovereign debt to skyrocket, jeopardizing its future economic growth and potentially blocking its path to joining the EU since its debt would surpass the limits member states are allowed.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian, BBC News, AlJazeera

Photo Source: Liz Castro/Wikimedia