Catalonia? Yes, here we go

Untitled-1In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to visit numerous countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. For the first time I have become aware that I haven’t had to introduce Catalonia, the country I come from, and I have also found for the first time that most of the people I speak to ask me the same kind of questions: ‘Is what’s going on in Catalonia, for real? Does the political commitment to  independence have a good chance of bearing fruit?’

The international impact made by the demonstration comprised of over one and a half million people that took place in Barcelona on the 11th September, Catalonia’s National Day, has a lot to do with this change. In Europe one rarely finds demonstrations of such magnitude and national liberation movements rarely have such a solid social and political base that is so democratic, peaceful and determined.

Nonetheless, we should be clear that this situation is not merely the result of the current economic situation or particular political circumstances. Indeed, Catalonia’s majority nationalism has facilitated the major political developments that Spain has experienced over the last quarter of a century. From the Spanish transition itself (which fell short when it came to holding to account members of the former dictatorial regime, as was the case in Germany and Italy), to decisive support for the  governance of the state in key moments of political or economic crisis, to Spain signing up to the European Union and, later, the euro. The major international organisations all agree, however, that Spain has failed to evolve or adopt its own model of a standardised state, even in times of a supposed economic boom.

On October 7, at the start of the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid the crowd created an immense mosaic, filling the stadium in Barcelona with a giant Catalan flag

On October 7, at the
start of the match
between FC Barcelona
and Real Madrid the
crowd created an
immense mosaic, filling
the stadium in Barcelona
with a giant Catalan flag

The conversion of the Spanish Constitutional Court into a virtual third chamber, the consolidation of an unfair and unbalanced tax system, the politicisation of financial supervisory bodies and the incompetence of the decentralised management of strategic state structures are indicative of a halfbaked state which is burdened by an outdated centralisation.

For many years there has been widespread support in Catalonia for a form of autonomy with a wide ranging jurisdiction. It has evolved in an increasing, reasoned way in which the majority call for statehood for the simple reason that Catalonia is lacking in this respect. This statelessness, which can be defined as a lack of the infrastructures which ensure Catalonia’s future political, economic and social development, currently threatens the very existence of the welfare state.

Having reached this point, the president of Catalonia has chosen a process of national transition which has as its ultimate aim the realisation of an independent state for Catalonia.

The response I have offered to friends and the people I have met around the world recently is: ‘Yes, here we go’. It should be said that it is a process that is not aimed against anybody. Needless to say, we wish all the best to France, Spain and Andorra and long for good neighbourly relations with them. We are working closely with the European Union to this end in our desire to be a bulwark of stability in southern Europe, which is something we are confident we can achieve.

We have the determination to succeed and the legitimacy to face up to this political challenge. Catalan independence will be a peaceful process of radical democracy, a political challenge of the first order. We are convinced it will also be a breakthrough for the whole of Europe. It will thereby confirm that Europe remains a privileged place where one can witness democracy’s role as a vital tool in the resolution of political conflicts.

As the president of Catalonia solemnly announced in the general policy debate held in Parliament on the 25th of September: ‘It is time for the Catalan people to exercise their right to selfdetermination’.

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