All over the world people are rising up, demanding their freedom and independence. This is nothing new for Catalonia, the northeastern part of Spain along the French border. There it seems to be stronger than ever as the most recent election, held September 27, 2015, is seen as a victory for the separatist movement. Although technically and legally it had nothing to do with separatism, the party which won the election by a small margin has made it clear that they support an independent Catalonia. This has been enough to cement the perception that their win marks the beginning of a victory in Catalonian efforts to break away from Spain. Does it have meaning for America? Read on.
The election was seen as close to being a referendum on independence, something that has long been a goal of the region, resulting in numerous rallies, and drawing hundreds of thousands in Barcelona, the region’s main city. The main political party proposing Catalonian independence was that of Catalan President Artur Mas, of the liberal Democratic Convergence of Catalonia. The win is perceived as a mandate to begin the separation of Catalonia from Spain. In the Spanish capital of Madrid, the Spanish government has stated that they will not accept such an action.
The Spanish government has a problem. There are strong separatist movements elsewhere in Spain, particularly in the Basque region and Galacia, each of which also has its own language. Andalusia, the southernmost part of the country and the cultural capital of Spain, speaks its own Spanish dialect but is not considered one of the “historic” separatist regions, nor is the movement as strong there as it is in some of the other regions. If Spain loses Catalonia, other regions with strong separatist movements could follow. In addition to the historic regions with separatist movements, there are seven other regions that have official or unofficial languages of their own.
Unlike the Scots (or the Andalusians for that matter), the people of Catalonia speak a language that is quite distinct from that of Spain, although tourists there are likely to say that it is a mixture of Spanish and French, yet it is neither (although Catalan has cognates with both). There are 9 million people who speak Catalan –– more than the entire population of many nations. In addition, unlike Scotland which has a culture and history distinctive from that of England, the parties which support the secession of Catalonia are not socialist entities and this would seem to bode well for it.
Catalonia is the economic powerhouse of Spain and this wealthy northern region is in stark contrast to the rest of the country. Many Catalans want to keep more of the tax revenues raised in the region hence they are demanding greater political autonomy.
While it is obvious that the region wishes greater independence and that it might benefit from it, it is equally obvious that this would hinder the country of Spain. Can Spain afford losing Catalonia? Will Spain lose Catalonia? The answer may be soon in coming.
How does this relate to the issue of secession in the United States? It seems that 1 in 4 Americans is pro-secession and that there are secession movements in each of the 50 states, with those in the West stronger and larger than those in the East. Probably the best-known secession movement in this country is that of Texas which was “The Republic of Texas” for 11 years before joining the USA in 1845 with the proviso that they could leave the Union with one year’s notice. Will Texas leave? It is hard to say, however Governor Greg Abbot may have helped lay the groundwork recently when he signed into law the building of the “Texas Bullion Depository.” Will Texas get back the billions worth of gold bullion it owns that is now housed in New York? Who knows – but stay tuned.
Two states to note that also have secession movements are Hawaii and New York. In Hawaii (which may have joined the Union under false pretenses) there are several groups aiming for autonomy. Some of these groups wish to restore the Hawaiian monarchy while others lean toward the pre-eminence of those with Hawaiian blood.
The movement in New York, where one would not expect such a thing, is largely in the western counties which are reacting to a new state rule that bans fracking. These counties wish to join the state of Pennsylvania, where fracking is allowed and is bringing prosperity to the people in that region of Pennsylvania.
The idea that a section of a country can secede for economic or other reasons may spread, from Spain to other parts of the continent and even to America. In Europe there are several parties in diverse countries that are “Euro-skeptic” (i.e. they want to break their ties to the European Union) now obviously tyrannical. Euro-skeptic parties include the entire range of political philosophies such as Ukip (United Kingdom Independence Party), the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands (which this week became the largest party in the country), and the National Front (NF) in France, but can be found in every EU country as well at least eight European, but non-EU countries.
Last year, Euro-skeptic parties of Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom each earned at least 50 percent of the vote in their countries, while in seven other EU member states Euro-skeptic parties won at least one-third of the vote. What this means is that Europeans want to escape the suffocating authority of the EU and to have greater say in how their own country is run (the EU is going in the opposite direction). So too in America the “land of the free.” Freedom and the ability to chart one’s own destiny are counter to the centralization advocated by both the EU and the federal government of the United States.
It is entirely possible that the secession movement will grow both in the EU and in America. The recent election in Catalonia is just one indicator that we live in interesting times.
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