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How to understand the independence crisis in Spain?

Catalonia has been pursuing its independence from Spain for years and presents the main challenge of the Spanish government.

Spanish flag

Spanish flag / Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: ¿Cómo entender la crisis independentista en España?

Since 2015, the independence struggle has taken corners, and both left and right have been weakened demonstrating an impossibility of governance. Neither the Popular Party, conservative, when Mariano Rajoy was in the lead in 2016, nor the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), with Pedro Sánchez, current president, have been able to control a situation that has fragmented Spain.

The November elections, to form the Spanish Congress, left the PSOE with a majority, but there were significant changes that could continue to perpetuate the division in Spain. The big winner of the elections was the Vox party, which in just two elections that have been represented (those of April 2019 and these), already has 52 seats. After that in the previous ones, it had been with 24. This result provides a triumph for conservatism since Vox is the current ultra-right party.

This represents a greater difficulty of governance for Sánchez and the PSOE, because, according to the BBC, “the Spanish parliamentary system requires that the investiture be produced with the support of an absolute majority in the first vote (176 deputies) or with a simple majority in the second vote (with more votes in favor than against). Sanchez could not achieve any of the two things ” in the last elections of April. Now it could be even more difficult with the growing strength of Vox and also of the Popular Party, which also increased its representation.

Regardless of the result, the independence crisis is one of the main factors of recent instability in the Spanish government. According to the BBC, "experts agree that in order to unlock the institutional knot, situations such as those of Catalan nationalism, the badly healed wounds of the great economic recession of 2008 or the reconciliation between political formations of the same ideological spectrum must first be resolved."

But Catalonia is not the first, nor will it be the last to want to become independent from its country. Well, many factors, both cultural and political or economic have led to citizens of some regions not feeling identified with their own country. The case of Spain has its main break in 2008 thanks to the economic crisis, but it goes back to the 19th century: “an endemic problem that is the incorporation of peripheral nationalities into an idea of Spain is dragged” (the Basque Country and Catalonia, says contemporary historian Nere Basabe according to BBC.

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Since then, these regions have had their own representation away from parties in the rest of the country, always having a small but significant representation. These parties, as would be expected, have not bet on a union between left and right, but on an independentist course, which has frustrated government actions.

The independence spirit has been more latent since 2017, when the Catalan government conducted a consultation on the issue, although the Spanish Constitutional Court considered it illegal. From there, the Catalans have constantly marched and protested, asking that the consultation be respected.

To reach a solution, Spain has needed the strengthening and union of Congress and the left and right parties. But in the face of this, the citizens themselves have also manifested. October and November have been months in which the community throughout Spain and also some sectors of Catalonia have taken to the streets to protest against the 2017 Catalan consultation and the independence process. In defense of the protesters, Sanchez said in October "that the intentions of independence are an imposed process, which has been developed violently, as he read in his speech," said Tele Sur.

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