Since time immemorial, Man has fought for his rights which include his personal freedom and independence.
Over the past few months, the Catalan Independence Referendum is one issue which has caught many a people’s fancy. Last few years have been tough for EU, Scottish Revolution in 2014 followed by Brexit in 2016 and now, Catalonia. Independence movements have been very popular across Europe with minor uprisings in Italy, Germany, etc. The EU fears that this referendum would only give them a renewed zeal.
Catalonia is an economically prosperous region in the north east of Spain. The region has a fairly distinct culture from Spain and it has strived to maintain their autonomy since 700 AD.
Multiple wars throughout history have caused Catalonia to be annexed and freed by various armies but this region has bared it all. Presently, Catalonia has been given special status under the Spanish Constitution.
Catalonia pays more taxes as compared to the rest of Spain Catalonia makes a hefty contribution to the overall Spanish economy, making 223.6 billion euros ($262.96 billion) a year, according to the regional government.
Carles Puigdemont, who has been spearheading the Independence Movement in the recent times. He has been a vociferous advocate of Catalan independence. The October 1st Referendum was deemed illegal by Spain on 6th September 2017 because it apparently breached the 1978 Spanish constitution, but a disputed referendum was held anyway. It saw a 43% voter turnout according to the Government of Catalonia statistics.
The question posed to the voters was, “Do you want Catalonia to be independent in the form of a republic?”.
A whopping 92% people voted in favour of this and 7% voted in the negative (according to the provisional results).
People turned out to cast their vote despite the threats from Madrid. The Catalonian government claimed that the turnout would have been higher by approximately 14% had the police not closed in. On 20th September, following the orders of the trial court, the Spanish Civil Guard raided several symbols of Catalonian administration in Barcelona.
They raided the Catalan National Assembly to seize ballot boxes and derail preparations for the referendum. Police officers hit the protesters with batons and the resulting clashes between the police and the protesters increased. The international community strongly reacted to the adoption of violence as a means by the Spanish Government.
The Catalonian Independence means a lot to Spain and the EU at large. This is for several reasons. This region is huge.
Catalonia would be saving about 8% of its GDP. It would have full control over taxes and funds and could spend the money on specific region centric needs.
The biggest disadvantage of this exit would be the fact that it would lose its membership in UN, EU and the NATO. Losing EU membership would mean losing the Euro.
The birth of a new nation is a slow and painful one but it brings a whole lot of promise and renewed hope.