Couple of articles looking at the faltering fortunes of the sovereignty movements in Scotland and Québec when compared to the dynamism readily observable in their Catalan equivalents. The first comes from Patrick West in the contrarian Spiked and reflects a broadly British
Unionist Nationalist viewpoint:
“On the face of it, Spain and the United Kingdom have much in common. Both are maritime, quasi-federal states and former empire-builders, who in the post-war era have faced the prospect of disintegration, as peoples in their peripheral nations have sought varying degrees of separation. In each case, the largest central nation, Castile and England, has resisted violent campaigns of national liberation, in the Basque country and Northern Ireland respectively. That’s why the IRA and ETA made common cause: it’s normal for separatist groups to forge such allegiances. It’s also the reason why the two nationalist movements in countries now seeking peaceful means of withdrawal, Catalonia and Scotland, have paid much attention to each other’s fortunes. No wonder that Catalan leaders have been looking seriously at holding their referendum at about the same time as Scotland’s, which takes place on 18 September 2014.
Is such a comparison valid, though? Is an alliance between Catalonia and Scotland useful? In each case, I would say no and no. The reality that Scotland is looking increasingly likely to vote ‘no’ is bad news for the Catalan independence movement. If ‘Catalonia is not Spain’, as the familiar banner reads, it isn’t Scotland, either.
It’s not entirely coincidental that the Catalan parliament announced a referendum in January, 12 months after London agreed to one in Scotland. Catalans have been greatly enthused by the progress made by the Scottish National Party (SNP) under the charismatic Alex Salmond. Yet it has increasingly become an unreciprocated love affair. Salmond has so far kept his distance. There’s no point in making enemies with Madrid at this stage, as, unlike London, a belligerent Madrid has not agreed to an official referendum and the outcome in Catalonia isn’t binding.
The realisation that Scotland will probably vote ‘no’ (support for independence is at around 30 per cent and falling) is causing many in Catalonia, where secessionists make up a 70 per cent majority, to have a rethink. In January, the influential, left-leaning internet news site VilaWeb made known its concerns: ‘In Scotland, the process is practically exclusively led by the Scottish National Party, which is opposed by an ideologically diverse coalition’, wrote the site’s editor Vicent Partal. ‘In Catalonia, by contrast – and this became clear in the last election – the people don’t want a single party or a single leader to run the process.’”
While there is much of interest in the opinion piece it is just that: opinion, and Britnat opinion to boot. Still, definitely worth a read. The second article comes from Konrad Yakabuski in Canada’s Globe and Mail:
“What do you get when you’ve got a conservative prime minister embroiled in scandal who is so deeply unpopular in the province currently run by sovereigntists that he keeps driving voters into the arms of the secessionists?
The Parti Québécois might wish we were talking about Stephen Harper, whom sovereigntists consider their best weapon in the quest for Quebec independence. But the PQ has been unable to translate Quebeckers’ aversion toward Mr. Harper and his policies into sovereigntist support.
That’s not the case in Catalonia, where Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, his centre-right People’s Party and the region’s secessionist government are on a collision course that looks set to culminate in an independence referendum in 2014. While Anglo-Saxons focus on Scotland’s independence vote, most of the rest of the world – and especially Quebec – will have its eyes on Catalonia.
The odds of major political upheaval seem much higher in Catalonia, where more than two-thirds support outright independence or more autonomy from Madrid. As beleaguered Spain’s most prosperous region, with bustling Barcelona as its capital and a distinct language as its cultural glue, a new arrangement with Spain is increasingly sought by Catalonians. Nearly 100,000 of them filled a soccer stadium last month chanting, “Catalonia is not Spain.” Fifteen times that many – one-fifth of the Catalan population – marched for independence in Barcelona last September.
This is one more major problem for Mr. Rajoy, whose leadership has already been sapped by a 27-per-cent unemployment rate and voter discontent with the budget cuts he’s imposed to meet deficit targets set by the European Union.
As bad as it is, the economic crisis isn’t even the biggest threat to Mr. Rajoy. The corruption scandal consuming his party – and dominating the national media – has left him mired in political quicksand. The Prime Minister faces allegations that he received potentially illegal payments from a slush fund set up by a former People’s Party treasurer who is now in prison awaiting trial on fraud and money-laundering charges. Mr. Rajoy denies the allegations, but the scandal won’t soon die.”
Though it is quite possible that by the end of 2014 the Spanish state as we presently know it will be well on its way to dying.