Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Thursday, 22 november 2012 | Financial Times


Highly recommended: "Separatists reawaken Spanish nationalism"

We would like to recommend David Gardner's article in today's FT (“Separatists reawaken Spanish nationalism”) about the real danger posed by Spanish nationalism.


This year’s surge of separatist sentiment in Catalonia and the Basque Country is reawakening what had appeared to be a dormant Spanish nationalism, led by rightwing forces in and around the ruling Popular party, with salvos of rhetorical artillery between the two sides poisoning political debate.

More modulated voices that subscribe to neither brand of nationalism are being drowned out by this increasingly atavistic discourse, which some feel summons up the spectres of Spain’s fractious past.
(...) Catalan opinion tipped towards secession after a democratically endorsed and Socialist-led attempt to give Catalonia enhanced self-government was struck down by the constitutional court – at the behest of the PP when it was in opposition.
The ruling party, which has an absolute majority in parliament yet governs almost entirely by decree, is treating the constitution with the reverence accorded to a tablet of stone, even though last year it took the lame-duck Socialist government a matter of days to amend the charter to incorporate the eurozone fiscal compact.

“This should all be negotiable but it has become poisoned by an accumulation of grievances,” says Jesus Ceberio, former editor of El Pais, Spain’s leading centre-left newspaper.

Adding to those grievances is the barrage of abuse from the rightwing press in Madrid, worked up into a frenzy of Catalan-baiting. El Mundo, for instance, recently ran a blog claiming Pontius Pilate was a Catalan.
(...) But the political temperature went up several more degrees when in October José Ignacio Wert, the education minister, told parliament he intended to “Spanish-ise” Catalan pupils he suggested were being brainwashed into separatism by the Catalan language. This touched a raw nerve and triggered a raucous response.

Catalonia, which withstood the Franco dictatorship’s attempts to expunge its language, operates a bilingual education policy, which education ministry studies show produces children at least as good if not more proficient in Spanish than their peers in the rest of Spain. Some commentators noted gleefully that whereas Catalan leaders are invariably multilingual, Spanish prime ministers tend to be linguistically challenged.

Mr Wert’s intervention in a policy area under Catalan government jurisdiction did not just anger Catalan nationalists. “This is an incendiary attempt to homogenise our education system,” said one anti-separatist business figure. “This man has just created 100,000 more separatists,” fumed a Spanish diplomat. Observers on the sidelines of the dispute expect worse to come.

“We haven’t yet really seen Spanish nationalism go into action, but it exists and it’s pretty belligerent, and what gets them most excited is [internal] territorial conflicts; it’s in their genetic code,” says Mr Ceberio, recalling the adage of one of Franco’s generals in the 1936-39 civil war, that he preferred “a red [roja] Spain to a broken [rota] Spain”.
(...) “Once this gets going, Spanish nationalism, which works with the gut more than the head, will be a force to be reckoned with,” says a leading Spanish political scientist in Madrid. “What we must avoid at all costs is being pushed into the corner where we appear to be the Serbs.”

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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