Catalan Nationalism Means More European Division

By David Frum

Catalans speak their own language. They are richer than their fellow citizens in the rest of Spain, and thus contribute more to the national budget than they receive back. They carry unhappy memories of domination by centralizing governments in Madrid. The Franco dictatorship of 1939-1975 harshly suppressed their culture, identity, and political and civil liberties. It’s a pure accident of history that Catalonia ended up inside the Kingdom of Spain at all. Portugal successfully broke away in the 1640s. Had the Thirty Years War, the War of Spanish Succession, or the Napoleonic wars taken a slightly different turn, Catalonia might well have followed.

All this may seem long ago and far away to the American reader. But it’s all suddenly very top of mind for modern Europe. The Catalan regional government has invited its population to vote Sunday in a referendum on independence. The referendum has been declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, because it violates the terms of the 1978 constitution that proclaimed Spanish unity “indissoluble.” The central government has reacted roughly to the referendum project, raiding local government offices, impounding ballots, and arresting local officials. “Stop this escalation of radicalism and disobedience,” the Spanish prime minister commanded in a televised statement on September 17th.  Unsurprisingly, those words failed to calm the situation. The streets of Barcelona have filled with protesters. Only about 40 percent of Catalans favored independence as of midsummer, but feelings are running hotter now.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited Washington, D.C. on September 26th. At a joint press conference, President Trump deplored the secession vote.

I think the people of Catalonia have been talking about this for a long time.  But I bet you if you had accurate numbers and accurate polling, you’d find that they love their …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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