Ukraine Might Be Better Off If “Little Russia” Did Secede

Military vehicles of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic are seen in eastern Ukraine, May 30, 2015
Military vehicles of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic are seen in eastern Ukraine, May 30, 2015 (Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov)

Separatists in the southeast of Ukraine have declared a new country: “Little Russia”.

The announcement by Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, amounts to little, argues Gwendolyn Sasse of Carnegie Europe.

She points out that leaders in Luhansk, Ukraine’s other breakaway region, have distanced themselves from it. Russia, which otherwise backs the Donbas uprising, hasn’t voiced support either. And the local population doesn’t want independence. A survey conducted earlier this year found a majority in favor of remaining in Ukraine. Only a third want to join Russia.

Yet it might be better for Ukraine if the region does secede. Read more

Support for Catalan Independence Down, But It Could Still Happen

Celebration of the National Day of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, September 13, 2012
Celebration of the National Day of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, September 13, 2012 (Fotomovimiento)

Support for independence is falling in Catalonia, but it could still happen if opponents don’t vote.

A comprehensive survey of public opinion conducted every four months for the regional government found that only 41 percent of Catalans want to break away from Spain.

But those voters are more motivated to turn out. Read more

Barcelona and Madrid Are on a Collision Course

View of the Columbus Monument in Barcelona, Spain
View of the Columbus Monument in Barcelona, Spain (Unsplash/Benjamin Voros)

Since Catalonia’s regional government announced it plans to hold an independence referendum in September, tensions with the central government in Madrid have been rising:

  • Catalan leaders have said they would declare independence within 48 hours of a vote to break away from Spain, regardless of turnout.
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has dismissed the plan as an “authoritarian delusion”.
  • Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal has warned that the armed forces are tasked not only with “protecting the values of democracy and the Constitution, but also the integrity and sovereignty” of Spain.
  • Spain’s Constitutional Court has blocked the €5.8 million the Catalan government had set aside to pay for the referendum.
  • Catalonia is in the process of separating its tax agency from Spain’s in case the region does decide to secede. Read more

Scotland Delays Independence Plans in Wake of Election Defeat

Nicola Sturgeons waves to photographers outside the Scottish first minister's residence in Edinburgh, November 20, 2014
Nicola Sturgeons waves to photographers outside the Scottish first minister’s residence in Edinburgh, November 20, 2014 (Scottish Government)

Scotland’s ruling nationalists have delayed plans for a second independence referendum with Nicola Sturgeon, the regional first minister, arguing it is “too soon right now” to make a decision.

The climbdown comes after the Scottish National Party went down from 50 to 37 percent support in parliamentary elections. Read more

Catalans, Kurds, Given No Other Choice, Announce Referendums

Catalans demonstrate for independence in Barcelona, Spain, July 10, 2010
Catalans demonstrate for independence in Barcelona, Spain, July 10, 2010 (Rob Shenk)

Both the Catalans and Iraq’s Kurds have announced independence referendums this week over the objections of their central governments.

The two might seem a world away. Catalans have virtually no security concerns. The Kurds are waging a war on two fronts: one against Turkey to the north and another against the self-proclaimed Islamic State to the south.

Yet they have things in common. Read more

Second Scottish Referendum Unlikely After Voters Punish SNP

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond attends a meeting in California, June 20, 2012
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond attends a meeting in California, June 20, 2012 (Scottish Government/Feature Photo Service/Matt Petit)

A second Scottish independence referendum seems unlikely after the region’s separatists lost almost half their seats in Britain’s general election.

The Scottish National Party won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster in 2015 but lost 21 of them on Thursday. Read more

Why Spain’s Podemos Now Supports Catalan Referendum

Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias appears at an event in Málaga, May 17, 2014
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias appears at an event in Málaga, May 17, 2014 (Cyberfrancis)

Spain’s Podemos party has come out in favor of a Catalan independence referendum, making it the first major national party to break with the government of Mariano Rajoy on the issue.

The anti-establishment movement remains opposed to Catalan independence and argues that a referendum should not be legally binding, but the new policy is a win for Catalonia’s separatists all the same.

It’s probably not for them that Podemos has changed their minds, though. Read more