Catalonian Crisis: A Look Into Spanish Affairs

in Foreign Policy/Miscellaneous by

Catalonia’s struggle for independence has been heard of all around the world. Catalonia is one of many autonomous communities in Spain, which can be, somewhat, paralleled to the states in the United States. Out of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, Catalonia is the most powerful and self sufficient.

Spain was ruled by a dictatorship until the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. During Franco’s time in power, he created a centralized non-democratic form of government in Spain, and, as such, Catalonia’s autonomous power was taken away and all of their culture was suppressed so that all of Spain could be the same. After Franco’s death, Catalonia was given more powers as an autonomous community than the others because the government in Madrid was aware that Franco stripped the region of almost all of its power as an autonomous community and that the Catalan people were upset by Franco taking their power. Three years after the end of the dictatorship, a constitution was created and with it came the 17 autonomous communities of Spain. This constitution is the foundation of Spanish democracy. When Spain became a democratic country, Catalonia somewhat began to appear independent from Spain; moreover, Catalonia has one of the highest levels of self-governance for a region in all of Europe. The Spanish government realized that it was a possibility for an autonomous community to seek independence and explicitly stated in the constitution that, although autonomous communities are allowed some self-governance, there will be no sovereignty apart from that of the Spanish nation. This and anything in the Spanish constitution can be changed holding a nationwide vote; however, a referendum held by a minority (as was done on the first of October of 2017 in Catalonia) cannot change the law and is considered unconstitutional.

Catalonia has now made themselves appear as if they are victims of the government’s’ suppression; 80 years ago it could have been understood if the people of Catalonia were suppressed, but, as the government has awarded many more rights to the people of Catalonia than other autonomous communities, the Spanish people and government have been upset by the self-victimization of the Catalan people. Schools in Catalonia have punished those who do not partake in independence movements with more homework and are teaching children that the Spanish government and king are monsters, arguing that the Catalan people are simply victims of the Spanish government. Catalonia held a referendum on October 1, 2017, which was done unconstitutionally, in which 40% of all eligible voters in Spain took part in and 92% voted for Catalonia’s independence. However, this was not an official vote, so it is highly plausible that results were tampered with and this was not the true result. Catalonia’s parliament declared independence on October 27 of this past year, even though a proper vote was never held and it is unconstitutional to do so. Spanish flags were taken down from government buildings in Catalonia, and Catalonia’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, has told the people of Catalonia to keep the movement towards independence going in a peaceful manner.  In light of all this, the Spanish government has intervened, and the Spanish Supreme Court has voted to intervene in Catalonia and take over their parliament.

Now, Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain, has sacked Puigdemont and Catalonia’s government. Puigdemont is in exile and is residing in Belgium; he has also chosen to not run for a second term as Catalonia’s regional president. Puigdemont faces charges of sedition and rebellion from Spain, and will not attempt to govern remotely or return back to Spain due to fear of his arrest. Some of Catalonia’s fight for independence’ leaders are now in jail, such as Jordi Sanchez, who was imprisoned by charges of sedition. Puigdemont proposes that he should hand on the torch to Sanchez, which is very unlikely. The Spanish government has successfully brought the rebelliousness taking place in Catalonia close to an end. Spain is now in control of Catalonia’s parliament and will remain in control until they deem the Catalan people ready to regain control.
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