Should Catatlonia be independent?

Catalonia is a region in the north-east of Spain consisting of the important provinces of Zaragoza, Lleida, Girona and most notably Barcelona. Catalonia is an autonomous state, meaning it is self-governing but also that it is dependent on another country, in this case Spain. Catalan has its own language, parliament, flag and most importantly a football team. With all this does it really need to still be attached to Spain? Surely it is so autonomous it should be independent? But with the results in the recent Spanish election and the far-right party Vox holding 15.1% of seats in Spain’s parliament. This article will explore if it can have independence and if it should. But first, some history.

Catalonia has always had independence issues. Catalonia first gained independence after the Franco-Spanish war in which they attempted to break away from Spain only to later be invaded by both France then Spain. At the end of the war, the Spanish were forced to give Catalan its independence in 1659 but this didn’t last long. Catalan were defeated in 1714 during the war of Spanish succession and as a result Catalonia was stripped of its rights and its government. Exactly 200 years later, the four key provinces (as previously mentioned) formed a sort of commonwealth which became autonomous after the post-WW1 republic of Spain restored it. This lasted for two decades until in 1936, the Spanish civil war erupted and plunged the entire country into anarchy. When the fascist leader General Franco took over, he crushed any hope of Catalan independence with his cruel regime. The most important thing to take away from the Spanish civil war is that Spanish still hasn’t healed the scars caused by the revolution.

Unfortunately, Catalonia may have some problems if it splits. It would have to agree new trade deals, organise sufficient defence, establish a national bank, the list goes on. The problem would be if they could pay for it. While Catalonia is the profitable region of Spain, it will almost certainly take a few good years to pay off. It doesn’t help that the Catalan government owes €77billion in debts, €55billion is owed to Spain. The Spanish government, who are critical of their independence, could hang it over their heads and use it to halt any chance of breaking away for years and by then the spark of revolution will have been extinguished. In 2012 there the Spanish government offered money to the regions in order to help stabilise them, Catalan ended up taking a vast proportion of it. With all this debt it seems unlikely they will re-ignite their freedom.

The other question is if they should leave Spain. Catalan is an important industrial area and with Spain still carrying the wounds of the civil war, it needs all the money it can get, as would Catalonia when it breaks away. One of the key problems is that many Spanish families have relatives in Catalonia and many in Catalonia have been Spanish for generations, which begs the question: what’s the point of them splitting from Spain? The image of patriotic Catalan with the flag on his face with the message of freedom on his signpost and a burning passion in his heart doesn’t represent how every Catalan feels about separation. Another problem is that separation will mean that there must be an agreement if Catalonia joins or leaves the EU as it was part of an EU country, which would Catalexit which lead to so many different problems which would only lengthen the period of debt for Catalonia.

With all this Catalan independence would be a dream come true but alas, it must remain a dream. It would bankrupt Catalonia. They’ll have too much on their plate; establishing a country isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. It may be a prosperous area, but it can’t support itself and by the time a country that will be trade with a new-born in debt, Catalonia will be bankrupt with Spain ready to take back its lost land. All and all, as much as some Catalans want it, Catalonia won’t be independent for the foreseeable future, and it shouldn’t. Catalonia is just in too much debt.

By Spike Wyatt