Nov. 8, 2014 by Darius
In case the Spanish government didn’t have enough on its plate with massive unemployment, an awful economy, and meeting the terms of several financial bailouts, its most prosperous region, Catalonia, is voting on leaving tomorrow.
There has been much drama in Spain recently over whether Catalonia will be allowed to vote on independence or greater autonomy. The vote would be much like Scotland’s recent referendum, with one major difference: it wouldn’t actually mean anything. The Spanish government, though, has refused to allow any sort of official vote at all, even one with no concrete consequences attached. But Catalonians are bent on voting.
Based on polling data, most Catalans prefer a greater degree of autonomy to outright independence. Few want the system to remain as it is. Politics and culture, though, are secondary. The primary driver for most Catalan separatism is money, pure and simple. In short, Catalans feel their tax dollars are wasted on the lazy people in the rest of Spain that if Catalonia had greater autonomy, it would get to keep more of its own economic output. Separatism would almost certainly mean that Catalan would have to go without EU membership, though, because Spain would veto Catalan’s bid to join.
The Spanish government may be creating greater feelings of separatism by refusing to budge at all on autonomy. Tomorrow’s poll, though, “unofficial” will be hard for the government to ignore completely. In the end, some form of increased autonomy is likely what Catalonia will get. It might be enough to get everyone to go home.