Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Wednesday, 10 june 2009 | The Economist

English

A Public Reply to "The Economist" (II)

Sirs,

Your latest article on Spain (Zapped, June 6, 2009) is right to describe Ms. Rosa Diez as “militantly centralist”. We feel, however, that you’ve given her tiny single-issue party far too much credit. Only severely misinformed voters can “see Spain’s regions as a driver of inequality”, for instance. A mere look at the massive transfers of funds from the more productive regions to the endemically unproductive ones would be enough to convince anyone that just the opposite is true. Official government statistics about Catalonia show that the annual difference between total taxes paid and public expenditure received is about 10% of the Catalan regional GDP, far more than is the case in any other European region. As a result of this policy, after-tax personal income in Catalonia is lower than that of Spanish regions that were poorer than Catalonia before taxes. As a comparison, the German Constitutional Court has established that a region's position in the country's after-tax income ranking should not be altered as a result of "regional solidarity" transfers, which in any case are limited to a maximum of 4,5% of a region's GDP.

Ms Diez’s poor showing in this last election - fifth place with only 2,9% of the vote, just a nose ahead of a coalition of “separatists” and getting almost less than half as many votes as a Catalan-Basque moderate-nationalist coalition, both of them with naturally smaller constituencies - seems to bear us out. In fact, the problem with “the balance of power between central government and the regions” has been around in Spanish politics at least since Ferdinand and Isabella, and, much as they have tried, militant centralists of all stripes haven’t been able to solve it so far. One solution that has never been tried, incidentally, is a friendly break-up.


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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