by Jennifer Maffessanti
In the past three years, we’ve seen two separate votes for the independence of one nation from another political body. First, in 2014, was the vote for Scottish independence from Great Britain, which failed to pass. Then, in 2016, came Brexit where Great Britain voted to withdraw from the European Union. We might yet see a third vote for independence on October 1 of this year.
A Free and Independent Catalan Republic?
Catalonia is a province in northeast Spain that has, historically, been its own principality and alternately conquered and claimed by both France and Spain. Despite efforts to eradicate it, it has its own language. It has its own national identity. It has its own government officials. According to the most recent Spanish constitution, it has a certain level of autonomy from the Spanish government. And now it wants it to be free.
Perhaps “now” is a bit misleading. Catalonia has been chafing under Spanish rule for a long time, and the political independence movement formally began in 1922. The movement quickly gained a lot of ground and even got so far as political autonomy within the Spanish state before the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 and the dictator General Francisco Franco promptly abolished that autonomy in 1939.
The modern Catalan independence movement began in 2006 with Catalonia regaining renewed autonomy within the Spanish state. Since then, many high-profile Catalan officials have been pushing for independent statehood, and several symbolic referendums have been held on the topic, all of them returning strongly in favor of yes.
Because of this strong support, the province of Catalonia has scheduled a formal referendum on independence for October 1 of this year. And the Spanish government is not happy about it.