PUBLICATION

THE SPANISH AND CATALONIAN MELODRAMA

My attention has been caught vis-à-vis the conflict and pumping up tension between Catalonia, and central Spain. The two sides are resenting the path of dialogue, the acrimony blazing between central Spain and Catalonia sadly looks to be a crisis capable of igniting and escalating secessionist movements not just in Europe but the world as a whole.

The Catalan movement is but a tiny pixel in the larger picture of smaller nations yearning to be “unyoked” from bigger states. It is important at this juncture to note the number of sovereign states as at 1950 was only 95. Smaller nations incising themselves away and jumping at independence is not new in today’s economic and socio-political climate.

Oil rich South-Sudan broke away from Sudan to bring the total number of sovereign states to 195 as of 2011. In some instances, it has not been unheard of for smaller nations to breakaway from a previous government in order to annex itself to a more economically powerful neighbor.

The classic case of Crimea breaking away from Ukraine and subsequent annexation to the Federation of Russia is a notable example. Other nations that want to secede from their current government include but are not limited to; Scotland from Great Britain, Venice originating from Italy, Quebec situated in Canada.

The question that is blaring from observers is “why do smaller nations want to secede from Bigger Countries?” The fact is this; bigger does not always mean better. The “Big Brother” system being operated by the European Union – Brexit, the United States – Texas, has largely proven to be unsuccessful.

However, Brexit just might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The UK has angled for a deal from the European Union all in vain, and even though, it is looking likely their might be a “no-deal” very soon, it is instructive to see how the UK manages to survive from the EU as that might prove a lesson for micro nations like Catalonia, Monaco, and the Kurdish territories.

Catalonia has strong intentions to break away from Spain owing to a pile of reasons. Firstly, in historic times, Catalonia was a kingdom in Europe prior to its collapse into Spanish rule in 1714. The province retains its peculiar customs, language as well as politics. In addition to that, a large chunk of Catalans have the perspective that the existing constitutional together with legal arrangements are very unfair to them financially and fiscally.

They believe Catalonia as a region is ‘giving’ more than it is ‘receiving’ and that the rest of Spain is taking a disproportionate advantage of the fact that they are one of the richest regions in Spain – fourth richest per capita. They are of the opinion that this situational handicap obstructs their possibilities for growth whilst the central government in Madrid feigns a blind eye to this problem.

Subjectively, Catalonia breaking away from Spain, despite how noble the inspiration doesn’t necessarily validate it putting into view the herculean task it takes for a nation to attain sovereignty.

Catalonia has about 7.45 million people. These citizens roughly account for 16% of the Spanish population while contributing to 19% of the total gross domestic product (GDP). In other words, since the Catalans claim they are not receiving as much as they give, their population being 16% and their contribution being 19%, it means their self-determination – in numbers, is simply a struggle for 3%. And in my opinion, simply not worth it.