Catalan Separatists Unite, Promise Referendum in 2014

Left- and right-wing parties join forces in the region to force a referendum on secession.

Artur Mas, the regional president of Catalonia, Spain, gives a speech, November 3, 2009
Artur Mas, the regional president of Catalonia, Spain, gives a speech, November 3, 2009 (CDC)

The two largest separatist parties in Catalonia joined forces on Wednesday to force a referendum on independence from Spain in 2014.

Regional president Artur Mas’ Convergence and Union and the Republican Left of Catalonia hail from opposite ends of the political spectrum but share a desire to secede from the rest of Spain.

The left pledged support for Mas’ fiscal policy which, in turn, will not include deeper spending cuts, even if the region’s finances are in dire straits.

Mas’ previous, conservative coalition enacted budget cuts after the region’s debt was downgraded to junk status. Thus barred from borrowing independently, the regional government in Barcelona requested rescue funds from a central government in Madrid that is itself trying to stave off a debt crisis.

Nevertheless, a majority of Catalans believes that their region would be better off outside Spain. Catalonia accounts for 16 percent of the country’s population, but produces one fifth of its gross domestic product. An estimated $21 billion in Catalan taxes, equivalent to 8 percent of its economic output, is invested in other regions.

To win over the left, Mas’ conservatives have agreed to impose a tax on bank deposits that disproportionately affects the rich while the Republicans say that they are also willing to make concessions to allow the coalition to serve at least until a referendum on independence can be organized.

Such a referendum will probably not be binding and the outcome is unlikely to change the position of the central government, which resists Catalan secession.

Economically, the obstacles to independence are also formidable. As Pierre Briançon pointed out at Reuters last month, “Catalonia would have to devise a new currency” if it left Spain and therefore the eurozone, one “that no one would trust while its current debt was still denominated in euros.”

As a breakaway region, Catalonia would have to reapply for European Union membership which could take years and prompt businesses to relocate in the meantime. “Altogether the region’s GDP could decline by up to 20 percent, aligning it with the rest of Spain, according to some estimates.”

Comments

  • “Catalonia would have to devise a new currency”

    Fine, just like Switzerland and Andorra… Why people keep saying weird things when it comes to talk about the construction of a Catalan state?

    This topic is starting to be one of the most studied internal conflict of a European country. You just need to look for a bit of information to avoid mistakes like that.

    “Altogether the region’s GDP could decline by up to 20 percent, aligning it with the rest of Spain, according to some estimates.”

    What estimates? And the others? :S Don’t you think this is a great piece of information? Don’t you think it should be a bit more rigorous?

    I’ve been studying this topic for a long time and it’s the first time that I read something like that. Almost all the economic research regarding to the independence of Catalonia maintains that the finances will improve or have a few problems just at the beginning.

    One thing is easy to realize: Spain will have a lot of problems if they keep fighting against democracy; if Spain ends this conflict without respect for the Catalan people, it can be desastrous both for Catalans and Spanish, but specially for the fake country (that is Spain), which can suffer a chain reaction.

  • Leave a reply