Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Thursday, 16 august 2012 | Financial Times


Recommended article: "Spain: Autonomy under fire" by David Gardner

We want to recommended the article "Spain: Autonomy under fire" by David Gardner published in the Financial Times.

Some excerpts:

The Spanish government, trapped in crossfire at the frontline of the battle for the euro, looks as if it is opening a second front – by using the crisis as pragmatic justification and political cover to roll back a highly devolved system of regional government that the ruling Partido Popular ideologically detests.

(...) Yet the architectural design of devolution was flawed from inception. The emerging democracy faced the challenge of how to meet the historic demands of the Basques and Catalans, who governed themselves under the Second Republic defeated by Franco in the 1936-39 civil war, but whose sense of nationhood goes back centuries. For the Spanish nationalist right, pandering to the separatists Franco crushed, with their languages and culture, was anathema. For the Jacobin left, it was a parochial sideshow. The compromise, laid out in the 1978 constitution, was to offer ostensibly similar terms to everyone. Each region could become “autonomous” to disguise the restitution of rights to the “historic nationalities” – a neologistic detour around the incendiary word “nation”, of which there could only be the one and indissoluble Spain.

(...) “The idea of recentralisation is just not possible in Catalonia,” says a former adviser to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Socialist premier until last year. “The atmosphere there has changed totally. Sovereignty [separation] is under active discussion – and if there is one thing that will make that happen it would be an attempt to snatch back powers.”

(...) While no one disputes that there are costly overlaps and duplication in the devolution model, the government shows little sign of differentiating on quality of spending. All parties are guilty of clientelism, but the PP more than most. The PP now runs 11 of the regional governments, which owe half the total of €140bn in regional debts and have public payroll costs far in excess of the average.

(...) Catalan officials and economists say they would be solvent were it not that they transfer €18bn a year, or about 9 per cent of economic output, to Madrid – an amount they complain exceeds the demands of equitable transfer to poorer regions.

(...) “The Catalan government wants to be a region with the attributes of a state, but what we want doesn’t fit into Spain any more,” says Salvador Garcia-Ruiz, an economist and separatist. Since he expects Madrid not only to reject any new fiscal powers for Catalonia but use the present crisis to reclaim powers its government already has, he believes Catalans will eventually vote to secede from Spain.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia