Will Catalonia Declare Independence from Spain?

There are reasons to doubt the Catalans will go that far, but the politics don’t favor pragmatists.

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

The law which made Sunday’s referendum possible calls for a declaration of independence from Spain within two days of a “yes” vote, but there are reasons to doubt the Catalans will go that far:

  • 90 percent voted for independence, but only 42 percent turned out. Many opponents stayed home.
  • The law was suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court, which previously ruled an independence referendum illegal.
  • The Spanish central government would try to prevent Catalonia from breaking away.
  • The regional government has virtually no international support for a declaration of independence.
  • The Catalan economy would suffer. That is why many business leaders are opposed.

On the other hand, Carles Puigdemont, the regional president, is a true believer. He has already claimed Catalonia has won the “right” to secede.

Others in his center-right Democratic Party are less sure, but the politics are not in their favor: If they don’t declare independence, left-wing parties would likely abandon the ruling coalition, forcing snap elections which, according to the polls, the Democrats would lose.