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

Sánchez Makes Good on Promise to Move Spain’s Socialists to the Left

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)

Pedro Sánchez is making good on his promise to move Spain’s Socialist Party to the left.

In the clearest sign yet of a new program, the Socialists refused to vote for a European trade pact with Canada in the national legislature last week.

Their deputies in the European Parliament did endorse the treaty when it came up for a vote there in February.

The ruling conservatives managed to ratify the treaty anyway with support from smaller parties in the center. But the Socialists’ abstention is a sign of things to come. 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

Rajoy Enacts Budget With Smallest Possible Majority

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and members of his cabinet attend a session of parliament in Madrid, June 11, 2014
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and members of his cabinet attend a session of parliament in Madrid, June 11, 2014 (La Moncloa)

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has managed to get his budget through Congress with the smallest possible majority.

176 out of 350 deputies voted in favor of his spending plan. 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

Rajoy’s Attitude Makes Catalan Secession More Likely

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, May 17
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, May 17 (La Moncloa)

Whatever happened to Mariano Rajoy’s willingness to talk?

In February, he offered to hear out Catalan demands for self-government except one: holding a binding independence referendum.

Now instead of sitting down with Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, Rajoy has avoided meeting him in Madrid and challenged him to what could only be a fruitless debate in the national parliament. Read more