10 October 2017

Should Catalonia declare independence?

Independence for Catalonia is not a principle. It depends on the will of the inhabitants and political realities.

As a socialist I have no fixed principle or view on whether Catalonia should be independent or not. But I do believe two things: first, that Catalonia should have the right to independence if the majority of people living there want it; and second, the behaviour of the Spanish state in violently impeding the October 1st referendum was deplorable.

However, following the chaotic referendum, socialists should not back immediate Catalan independence for two reasons: In the first place,it is far from certain that a majority of Catalonia’s voters support independence. And second, a declaration of independence by the Catalan Parliament would be followed by the forceful suspension of the Catalan administration and the imposition of direct rule from Madrid. Even if independence in these circumstances were achieved, the picture would be far from rosy. No recognition of Catalonia internationally, exclusion from the EU and massive de-investment in Spain’s richest region. There is certainly no public appetite for all this to happen.

If the Catalan government pulls back to fight another day, it is in strong position to win concessions from a Madrid which has no desire to go to war with its rebellious region.

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