Catalonia No Closer to Autonomy

SBA73, Flickr.

SBA73, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Self-determination can be a tricky thing. In liberal Europe, this is no less true.

Separatists in the Spanish region of Catalonia have won the regional elections but failed to win in such a way that demonstrated a firm desire to separate from Spain. Voters decided to give almost 70% of the local parliament to four different separatist parties who all advocate for a final separation from Spain. But they didn’t favor the main separatist group, Mas’s Convergence and Union Alliance (CiU) when they cut their seats back to 50 from 62 in the 135-five seat parliament.

Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, the head of Madrid’s office of the European Council on Foreign Relations claims that “Mas clearly made a mistake. He promoted a separatist agenda and the people have told him they want other people to carry out his agenda.”

Spain is currently suffering from a 25% unemployment rate and a brutal recession. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is likely relieved by the outcome. Catalan separatist groups have been edging the country toward a constitutional crisis. Catalonian residents believe that a concentration of political and economic efforts in the region could help them recover better than a continued focus on Spain or even Europe.

Mas has thus far attempted to take advantage of separatist sentiments in the country but the recent election demonstrates a faltering support for his particular brand of autonomy. Instead, the Left has made significant gains as a result of the election, to the expense of the center right.

The cracks that run through the European Union are quite deep. Far more than just individual member-states seeking to reassert their autonomy, sub-cultures within the union are attempting to work for independence.