Catalonia, a separatist autonomous community in the Kingdom of Spain has recently voted 90% in favor for independence. This may sound similar to Scotlands 2014 independence referendum which would have given the country independence from the UK if it had passed, but it is far from it. Less than half of eligible voters in the region voted, and several irregularities have been announced, placing the legitimacy of the referendum in question.
Additionally, the Spanish central government has declared the referendum unconstitutional and illegal. Hundreds of troops, military and riot police were dispatched to Catalonia to remove the polling stations and to maintain order. Leading to protests and eventually riots of tens of thousands across the region. Nearly one thousand civilians were injured during clashes with military police according to Catalan authorities. Tens of injuries among military police and other gov’t officials have also been reported. After heavy media condemnation Spain has apologized for the violence that had ensued in Catalonia, but has claimed it had acted in moderation.
As frustration increases within the Catalonian people, violence is likely to increase. However, Spain will not willingly allow Catalonia to leave the Kingdom. Catalonia is home to 15% of the countries population and 20% of it’s economic output and Spain has recently recovered from an economic recession. Many experts agree that even without a Catalan secession Spain is still at risk and unemployment remains well over 15%. A Catalan independence could cause significant damage to the recovering Spanish economy, for it is the richest region in Spain.
A Catalan secession may serve as inspiration for other culturally and linguistically Catalonian regions to secede along with other non Spanish cultural and linguistic groups from across Spain. If an overwhelming amount of secession groups were to spring simultaneously, it may lead to economic and stability problems throughout Spain.
If Catalonia were to succeed in it’s pursuit for independence, it would be isolated by it’s neighbors. To join the European Union it would require an unanimous vote ‘yes’ from all current members — Including Spain. Other neighboring nations with separatist groups such as France, Italy, and the UK may sanction Catalonia, or refuse to recognize their independence.
Businesses may also leave the region to France and Spain if Catalonia is unable to reenter the EU, and, if an independent Catalonia is unable to sign the European Unions Schengen Agreement, an agreement that allows freedom of movement between countries in Europe, tourism may fall. Both occurrences would end the economic advantage Catalonia has over other Spanish regions.
Written by Saz.