Independence marches in Catalonia, 2012
c Thousands took to the street in September last year, calling for a referendum on the region's independence. [Author's Own]

Spain: Determination remains strong for Catalan secession

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish PM, and Artur Mas, Catalonia’s regional leader, met in March for secret talks to discuss Catalonia’s financial and political situation. Reports suggest that Mr Rajoy offered to consider a financial deal that would increase the deficit target in the region, as long as Catalonia gave up the idea of holding a referendum.

After the meeting, however, the Catalan government spokesman, Francesc Homs, declared that Catalonia would not exchange the referendum for any financial agreement.

The Spanish government says that holding a referendum in Catalonia would not be legal, since the Spanish Constitution forbids it. However, in Catalonia, it is seen as the Catalan people’s right to express their will. For some, the referendum goes beyond the democratic limit, while others believe it is the very essence of democracy.

Separatists still remember how Catalonia lost many of the rights and freedoms as a semi-autonomous region. During the early 18th century, Philip V abolished the Catalan language, its currency and its institutions. Over time, however, Catalonia managed to restore its roots to the point where today they have speak their own language and practice their own traditions.

After Franco’s dictatorship, many separatist movements emerged, such as the “Plataforma Pro Seleccions Esportives Catalanes”, which questions the legality of the national team, or the slogan “Catalonia is not Spain”, which is seen during many FC Barcelona’s football matches.

There has been a latent desire of independence that is finally emerging, and support for independence is growing. One of the latest actions in favour of the Independence of Catalonia was a massive demonstration in Barcelona last September, during Catalonia’s National Day, when nearly 1.5m people called for Catalonia to become a new state in Europe.

Cutbacks are a decisive reason why separatism has grown. If there is not deficit flexibility, the Catalan government will have to cut back over €4 billion in the 2013 regional budget, nearly the same cutbacks sum of 2011 and 2012 together. Many Catalans are sick and tired of their region being fiscally plundered: Spain owes Catalonia more than €16 billion.

Independence was one of the driving forces behind the victory of Convergència i Unió (CiU), a nationalist political party, in last year’s Catalan elections. The party’s manifesto proposed a referendum concerning Catalonia’s future, something never before proposed by the party. Second place Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), a separatist party, which has partnered up with the government after having agreed to hold the referendum in 2014 at the latest and preferably.

In January, Catalan Parliament approved a Declaration of Sovereignty, to hold the referendum, with 85 votes for, 41 votes against and two abstentions. The State appealed the declaration to the Constitutional Court.

In March, the regional Parliament also passed a resolution presented by the Catalan Socialist Party, which was also presented at the Spanish Parliament and was refused by a wide margin, urging the Catalan government to enter into dialogue with the Spanish administration to hold a plebiscite on the Catalan people’s future.

Local governments have spoken out in favour of the Catalan independence. Some have approved acts of fiscal disobedience, and pay collected taxes to the Catalan administration, instead of the Spanish government. Similarly, all the consultations held around Catalonia between 2009 and 2011 were organised by the local governments, and some of them have also declared themselves as “Catalan free territories”, a symbolic gesture in support of the Independence of Catalonia.

A demonstration has been organized by the “Coordinadora de Plataformes per la Independència” for the 11th May in Barcelona, with the slogan “Independència Ara” (Independence Now). They will call for a referendum to be held this year, otherwise independence will be declared unilaterally next June.

Artur Mas’ CDC party has just started a tour through the region with the main aim of explaining its own concept of a separate state, after declaring, “Catalonia is no longer viable as an autonomous region.” The Spanish government’s response has been to remind them that Catalonia can only be financed through the Central Administration, while pointing at the Spanish Constitution, approved during the transition to democracy, in 1978.

The Spanish government, which originally refused to pass comment about the Catalan national will, now warns that the region would be “automatically excluded from the EU” if they seceded from Spain. In the meantime, Catalonia will continue to fight for independence, be it on the streets or at the polling stations.

Txell Parera


Txell Parera is a Catalan journalist. She graduated in Journalism at Autonomous University of Barcelona and later studied a Peace Culture and Conflict Management at the same university. She has been working for Barça TV and she has also collaborated with Belgium radio. She is interested in African and Middle East cultures, as well as in social and armed conflicts and in International Relations.

11 comments on “Spain: Determination remains strong for Catalan secession

  1. Pingback: Spain: Determination remains strong for Catalan...

  2. Pingback: The Foreign Report. Spain: Determination remains strong for Catalan secession 11.04.2013 |

  3. Good article!
    But it’s not sure that on April 27th is going to be a demonstration. None of the pro independence parties (CDC, ERC, CUP, SI) kweb about it, neither the two biggest civil organizatopns (ANC, Òmnium Cultural).

    • Thanks for your comments. There was an independence demonstration scheduled for 27th April, however, it seems the date has changed to the 11th May. The article has been updated to reflect this, so thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Pingback: Spain: Determination remains strong for Catalan...

  5. I think this article dangerously lacks any sence of balance or objetivity. The analysis is poorly superficial. You speak about Catalonia and Spain as if they were two separate political entities, what I assume it responds to your political views (which are of course legitimate) but it does not reflect the reality. While this is a matter of formality I think that your article lost any journalistic quality in the very first paragraph when you speak about Rajoy asking Catalonia to give up the independence referendum.
    I am sorry to say that Catalonia as a whole is too diverse and Mr Mas represents a part of Catalonia, CiU’s views are not the only or autentic Catalonia. A more professional and objective article would speak of Rajoy asking CiU or the Catalan government to abandon the referendum. Your lack of objectivity goes on during the whole article, you must learn that your view or the view of a part of Catalonia is not Catalonia but a part of it. Fortunately Catalonia is far more diverse than your portray of it; “In the meantime, Catalonia will continue to fight for independence, be it on the streets or at the polling stations”
    I see you claim to be a journalist so please try to become a good one and be objective and balanced in future articles, otherwise the are little more than propaganda.


    • Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate them, since they are constructive and very useful to improve my skills. I do know this is a non-objective article, but I took two ideas into account when I wrote it: firstly, that objectivity does not exist. Otherwise, we would be objects, instead of subjects, don’t you think? On the other hand, this was thought to be a kind of report in Catalonia we call “crònica”, where the journalist explains what happens from where he is. The only thing is that, because I am a subject, I chose to speak from Catalonia and not from Spain as a whole. But, of course, all information was contrasted and I used several Catalan media and different websites to gather it, so this is partly what we are really living from Catalonia. Just wait until next June 29th or September 11th, you’ll see it!


    • She speaks of Catalunya and Spain as 2 different nations AND 2 separate administrations which in some matters they are. All the above comments reflect how I feel and I’ve never met the author.
      I’m Catalan, born in Barcelona and grown up in Figueres, I live in England and if, for example, one day I was to become British for whatever reason then I would stop being Spanish, but I would never stop being Catalan. This is how I feel and my vote, I AM CATALAN, anything else is political.
      A traditional rhyme goes “som i serem gent catalana tant si deu vol com si no ho vol…”, this translates as “we are and will always be Catalan people whether God wills it or not” Do you think the Spanish government will change this feeling? They would love to but they haven’t managed in 300 years and we are not about to let them now.

  6. I believe half of the Catalans must be smoking something dreadful to believe that they can achieve independence from Spain without any military muscle backing their divorce from Spain. It’s foolish if not plainly stupid. In my opinion many Pro-Spanish Catalans are going to be the individuals that are going to fight these separatist Catalans first and will be committing the war crimes that everyone has been reading about during the Balkan Wars of the 1990’s. The Spanish army only has to send a few tanks and two to three brigades and it will be over in about a week. I give it a week because the army will be butchering these separatist dogs for fun. Rape and random beheadings wil be the norm in separatist Catalonia just like they are doing in Chechia, Russia and Syria.

    The Catalans should be grateful that the Spanish are trying to persuade them to abandom their foolish separatist motives before many of them die a gruesome death.

  7. Catalans are phonys.My mom family is from Barcelona and my Dad side is from Valencia. There are to many mixed people for this separation to work. Mas is a fool who spent and now blames Madrid. Spain is more united then this fairy tale author knows.

  8. Pingback: 4 Reasons Why There Will Be No Independence Referendum in Catalonia | International Political Forum