Maria Tadeo’s Bloomberg article “Catalonia Isn’t Really About to Break Away From Spain, Is It?” looks at the trajectory of Catalonian politics.
is Catalonia really about to break away from Spain?
Probably not, no. But regional President Artur Mas will likely get enough support to begin the process of secession and push for more powers. His mainstream pro-independence alliance Junts pel Si is projected to fall just short of a majority, and a smaller separatist group, the CUP, will probably get the movement over the 68-seat threshold.
While this will most likely be enough for the separatists to push on with their fight, without a majority of votes they will struggle to present this as a clear democratic mandate. Polls show votes for independence coming in below the 50 percent threshold.
What is Junts pel Si?
An alliance of separatist groups. Mas’s party, Convergencia, agreed to join forces with its traditional separatist rival Esquerra Republicana for this election after their attempts at holding a non-binding referendum were blocked last year.
They’ve been joined by figures from across Catalan society such as Bayern Munich soccer coach Pep Guardiola. The aim is to set aside differences on economic and social issues to bring the separatist vote together under one banner and send a clear signal to officials in Madrid.
Mas and Esquerra leader Oriol Junqueras have drawn up a road map that involves setting up a tax agency, a central bank, an army and securing access to the euro before declaring independence in 18 months’ time if they can secure a majority of 68 seats in the 135 strong regional assembly.
Mark Gilbert’s “Scotland Proved You Can’t Scare Catalonia Away From Independence” emphasizes the extent to which Spain has to make a positive case for itself.
Rajoy said this week that the pro-independence politicians have no concrete plans as to how they’d run a government, and that “Catalans aren’t being told the real consequences of independence.” Rajoy even suggested that Catalans would lose their EU citizenship. The Spanish central bank, meanwhile, insisted that cut loose from the mothership, the region would be kicked out of the European Union, barred from using the euro and would leave its banks without the support of the European Central Bank. And Miguel Cardenal, the Spanish minister for sports, has threatened to kick Catalonian soccer team Barcelona out of the national league.
Catalonia produces about 18 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, so the region wouldn’t exactly be a pauper. Nevertheless, investors have reacted to the prospect of an escalating fight over independence by driving up the yield premium they demand for lending to the region by buying its bonds rather than those of the central government; they now charge Catalonia 3.25 percent for five-year money, which is about 2.3 percentage points more than the government pays. That’s almost double what the surcharge was six months ago
The U.K.’s eventual change of tactics in persuading Scotland to remain part of the union should provide Spain with a better guide as to how to hang on to Catalonia. Devolution — the transfer of tax and spending powers to the regions — has softened (though not silenced) Scottish calls for independence, and seems to have averted a Welsh move down the secessionist path. Andreu Mas-Colell, a former Harvard University economics professor who is the Spanish region’s finance chief, said a year ago that he was open to the idea. “The more attractive is the offer on the table, the more likely that the vote will end up developing as in Britain,” he said in October.