Despite the recent general election landslide for Nicola’s Sturgeon’s SNP in Scotland, independence remains an unlikely prospect in the near to medium future for the northern Gaelic nation, given last year’s narrow referendum victory for the British unionist (nationalist) establishment in the UK. Similarly the North American country of Québec seems no closer to achieving its goal of independence, one that so fired a narrow majority of Québécois voters up to recent times. If anything the formally turbulent fires of Francophone nationalism have been reduced to a dull ember, with the provincial Parti Québécois and federal Bloc Quebecois being electorally eclipsed by their “unionist” (i.e federalist) or constitutionally-ambiguous rivals. Now all eyes are on Catalonia, which until the start of the year seemed certain to be forging a sovereigntist path to separation from Spain. However the prospect of actual independence as opposed to aspirational independence has thrown up all sorts of divisions and enmities within the Iberian nation, even amongst nominally nationalist parties.
Since the start of 2014 Catalonia’s governing party, the centre-right Convergència i Unió or CiU, has been riven by disagreements between – and within – it’s two distinct wings, the majority CDC and minority UDC. While the former is slightly more nationalist in attitude, the latter is more regionalist, and traditionally the alliance has always followed the smaller grouping’s conservative line. However progressive forces elsewhere in the country, which have squeezed the CiU at the ballot box and in terms of wider influence, have forced the alliance’s chairman, the CDC leader Artur Mas, to adopt a more strident tone on the issue of Catalan sovereignty (and at times quite obviously against his own political instincts). With an independence referendum of some sort likely the always present cracks in the party are finally beginning to widen and fissure.
From a report by Reuters:
“The push by Catalonia’s leaders to break away from Spain took a knock on Wednesday as infighting over the secession issue escalated and one of the parties running the region said its ministers were stepping down.
Splits within Convergencia i Unio (CiU), the coalition governing the affluent region in Spain’s far northeast, are threatening to undermine the separatist campaign.
A full-break up of CiU, formed by two parties which have worked together for 37 years, would also damage its leader, regional president Artur Mas, as he is staking his political future on the independence bid.
One of the CiU camps, UDC, has taken a more cautious approach to the secession question with some of its members expressing doubts about CiU’s transformation into a starkly pro-separatist party.
…UDC on Wednesday said that three of its ministers serving in the regional government were quitting as a result of this pressure.
It is not yet known whether CiU will run as one party or two in regional elections due on September 27, which Mas has built up as a proxy vote on independence.
The long-simmering secession movement swelled during a recession in recent years and led to mass demonstrations in favor of splitting from Spain, but has shown signs of fading in the past months.”
With the Spanish state, and EU officialdom, working hard to prevent Catalan independence, deliberately creating the impression – both domestically and overseas – that it is the wish of a small, unrepresentative minority, one must approach all reports emanating from the Iberian peninsula with caution. However it does seem that something is amiss in the majority nationalist camp.