Catalan Independence – “Yes, But No…”

The leader of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, made a statement in their parliament yesterday in which stated: “We call on international states and organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state.” But went on to add: “I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks in the coming weeks without which it is not possible to reach an agreed solution.”

Although Mr Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders signed a declaration of independence, its validity is in dispute.

It is highly unlikely that any major state would be willing to acknowledge the independence of Catalonia over the objections of the Spanish state – particularly as polls of support for independence taken within the region have never garnered more than 43% support. The referendum, which had been declared illegal by the Spanish Courts, claimed a 90% support level, but turnout was less than 50% and many irregularities have been identified and Catalan’s opposed to independence largely boycotted it. It is likely to be as divisive as the Brexit poll and the election of Donald Trump.

The Spanish government rejected the call for an international mediator (for the very good reason that the dispute is not between nations). The Spanish deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, said: “Neither Mr Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim… to impose mediation. After having come so far, and taken Catalonia to the greatest level of tension in its history, President Puigdemont has now subjected his autonomous region to its greatest level of uncertainty. The speech the president… gave today is that of a person who does not know where he is, where he’s going, nor who he wants to go there with.”

The Catalan government’s position does not go far enough for ardent nationalists and is wholly rejected by supporters of the unity of Spain both in Catalonia and the wider nation.

The EU has stated that should Catalonia split from Spain that the independent state would not be a member of the EU. This makes the economic case for independence dead in the water, but as Brexit shows, politics and economics are strange bedfellows and the logical path is not always the one that is followed.

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