A Catalan Secession: Good or Bad?

Robert Corl, Managing Editor

As globalism permeates the modern world, members of the international community have begun to fear rapid change and its threat to culture, tradition, and consistency. Consequently, the world is experiencing a historic surge in nationalism in every corner of the globe, from the United Kingdom seceding from the European Union to the election of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India in 2014. The public’s outcry to secure borders and protect sovereignty has sparked conflict across the globe, and has rekindled already existing friction between cultures. Most recently, in the EU once again, a region of Spain known as Catalonia held a referendum for independence on October 1st of 2017. While the Catalan Secession a small regional conflict, what does this exacerbation spell for the rest of the world?

First, however, it is important to understand the long history between Spain and Catalonia. While Catalonia may be a region of Spain, the culture of the Catalan people is very different. Catalonia as a culture has its own language, history, cultural celebrations, flag, parliament, and more; and this divide in culture between Catalonia and the rest of Spain has existed for over a thousand years. The two regions have somewhat tolerated each other over time (which is drastic understatement of hundreds of years of conflict). But more recently, the dictatorship of Francisco Franco after World War II dramatically worsened relationships between the two parties.

During the course of Franco’s rule, he enacted several laws to outlaw the use and teaching of the Catalan language in public institutions as well as even books on Catalan political ideology. The recent surge in nationalism across the globe reopened wounds in Spain between the two parties, and it resulted in the creation of an independence movement in Catalonia in 2014.

Come October 1st of 2017, the movement’s efforts came to fruition with an independence referendum, which resulted in a 90% vote in favor of independence. However, the referendum vote was technically illegal under the Spanish Constitution, and it ended in the Spanish government arresting pro-independence politicians, exiling the leader of the movement, arresting voters, beating and injuring over 890 voters, and