Catalonia: The end of the independence road?

Where now for the Catalan independence movement? Prof Luis Moreno considers whether recent events mark the end of the road or the start of a new phase of the journey. 
 
With the constitutional sanctioning of the Upper House, the Spanish central government has implemented measures to take control of the key institutions of key Catalonia’s self rule. Under Art. 155 of the 1978 Constitution, Rajoy’s Government is to replace Catalonia’s ministers (consellers), by direct rule from Madrid. in addition, the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, is to be removed from public office although he has publicly declared that he is not prepared to step down. 
 
All things considered, the most politically relevant decision taken by the Rajoy Government has been to go ahead with snap elections in Catalonia. These will be held as soon as December 21. Such a move has taken the secessionist parties in the old Spanish Principality (Principat de Catalunya) by surprise, as they now face the democratic counterargument of fresh elections supported by non-independentist political forces in Catalonia and Spain as a whole. In fact, Puigdemont had been pressed internally by some representatives of the secessionist bloc that supports him to take the initiative of calling new elections. This move was not however supported by the anti-capitalist and anti-EU party CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), a small but quantitatively decisive part of this pro-independence bloc. Now the situation has somehow been reversed by the decision of the central government in a political initiative which is supported by a majority of Catalans themselves according to the latest polls. 
 
Some of my colleagues in Scottish academia have reacted to such developments presuming that direct rule and new elections would bring about a strong likelihood of an increased pro-indy vote. Such a turn of events is far from assured. In fact, some non-secessionist parties believe that the election will mobilize their ‘lost’ voters of the past and could now turn Catalonia's electoral map around. A recent poll has indicated that the parties of the secessionist bloc would receive no more than 65 deputies and, therefore, fall short of the majority in the 135-seat Catalan chamber. 
 
However, until such Catalan elections actually take place, events might develop in a variety of unexpected directions. It could well be that Puigdemont himself calls for elections based upon the claim that he is still the legitimate President, or that the secessionist forces would not recognize the validity of the elections called by the central government. Such scenarios may be driven by the electoral expectations of the parties now present in Catalonia’s parliament (7 coalitions or parties). 
 
Certainly, the road to independence would come to an end if the non-secessionist parties and coalitions carry the day on December 21. Alternatively, a renewed pro-independence vote would make almost inevitable that a new popular referendum would take place in the not-too-distant future. Alternatively, a substantial reform of Spain’s constitutional order would face the implementation of a scheme of ‘devo max’. Among other challenges in such scenario, would be agreeing on a financial arrangement which would allow Catalonia to have the same ‘fiscal independence’ that the Basque Country, one of the three ‘historical nationalities’ together with Galicia, now enjoys. Such an arrangement allows a much higher degree of public resources to the Basque Country (whose economy represents 6% of Spain’s GDP) as compared to Catalonia (19%). 
 
To be continued...
 
 

Comments policy

All comments posted on the site via Disqus are automatically published. Additionally comments are sent to moderators for checking and removal if necessary. We encourage open debate and real time commenting on the website. The Centre on Constitutional Change cannot be held responsible for any content posted by users. Any complaints about comments on the site should be sent to info@centreonconstitutionalchange.ac.uk

Luis Moreno's picture
post by Luis Moreno
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
30th October 2017
Filed under:

Latest blogs

  • 19th February 2019

    Over the course of the UK’s preparations for withdrawing from the EU, the issue of the UK’s own internal market has emerged as an issue of concern, and one that has the potentially significant consequences for devolution. Dr Jo Hunt of Cardiff University examines the implications.

  • 12th February 2019

    CCC Fellow Professor Daniel Wincott of Cardiff University examines how Brexit processes have already reshaped territorial politics in the UK and changed its territorial constitution.

  • 7th February 2019

    The future of agriculture policy across the United Kingdom after Brexit is uncertain and risky, according to a new paper by Professor Michael Keating of the Centre on Constitutional Change. Reforms of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy over recent years have shifted the emphasis from farming to the broader concept of rural policy. As member states have gained more discretion in applying policy, the nations of the UK have also diverged, according to local conditions and preferences.

  • 4th February 2019

    In our latest report for the "Repatriation of Competences: Implications for Devolution" project, Professor Nicola McEwen and Dr Alexandra Remond examine how, in the longer term, Brexit poses significant risks for the climate and energy ambitions of the devolved nations. These include the loss of European Structural and Investment Funds targeted at climate and low carbon energy policies, from which the devolved territories have benefited disproportionately. European Investment Bank loan funding, which has financed high risk renewables projects, especially in Scotland, may also no longer be as accessible, while future access to research and innovation funding remains uncertain. The removal of the EU policy framework, which has incentivised the low carbon ambitions of the devolved nations may also result in lost opportunities.

  • 1st February 2019

    The outcome of the various Commons votes this week left certain only that the Government would either secure an amended deal and put it to a meaningful vote on Wednesday 13 February, or in the overwhelmingly likely absence of this make a further statement that day and table another amendable motion for the following day, the Groundhog Day that may lead to a ‘St Valentine’s Day Massacre’ for one side or the other. Richard Parry assesses the further two-week pause in parliamentary action on Brexit

Read More Posts