Analysis

Catalonia and Spain Are Reaching the Breaking Point

Spain is unwilling to give Catalonia more self-government. Separatists are determined to break away.

Barcelona Spain
Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain (Unsplash/Egor Myznik)

I have a story in The National Interest about the independence crisis in Catalonia.

The arguments will sound familiar to those of you who have been reading my analyses and opinions. I blame the Spanish government for refusing to listen to Catalans when all they asked for was more autonomy. I think it was a mistake to deny them a legal independence referendum when the majority of Catalans were still opposed to breaking away.

Now half are in favor and hope of a compromise is fading. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at least recognizes that the problem calls for a political, not a legal, solution, but he has postponed talks with the Catalan regional government due to COVID-19.

Parties that are willing to do a deal don’t have a majority in Congress. The right wants to either temporarily suspend or permanently revoke Catalonia’s autonomy. Sánchez wouldn’t need their support to give the Catalans the power to collect their own taxes, like the Basques. But he would to make Catalan home rule irrevocable, which requires constitutional reform and a two-thirds majority.

Such a change may be needed to reassure Catalans after Spain for the first time in its democratic history suspended their autonomy in 2017. Separatists voted that year in what Spain considered to be an illegal referendum on independence.

Hardline separatists in Catalonia are unconvinced. Whatever Sánchez offers will be too little, too late for them.

Unless reasonable Catalans and Spaniards are willing to meet in the middle, I worry secession is only a matter of time.

Read the rest here.

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