Cataluña 2015 Elections

By: Marta A

Cataluña regional elections have grabbed the world’s attention during the last week of September. How can regional elections attract so much media attention? Well for starters, Cataluña is a northern region in Spain with: four provinces that are Barcelona, Girona, Lérida, and Tarragona, its own language an autonomous government for regional purposes, and its own culture that is similar to the Spain’s with major differences like bull-fighting which is prohibited in Cataluña. In fact the spelling of the currently Spanish autonomous region depends on the language, for example in Spanish it is Cataluña but in Català it is Catalunya.

In the second decade of the third millennium Catalan nationalism and protests for independence have been on the rise. In fact, in November of 2014, less than two months after the Scottish Referendum, there was an attempt of a referendum by the Catalan government. The Spanish government didn’t consider the referendum as they had announced it as being illegal two-month prior to the event. The People’s Party led by Mariano Rajoy, who served as Prime Minister up to the December 2015 general elections, claims that a referendum organized solely by the Catalan government is unconstitutional given that according to the constitution only the Spanish government is allowed to organize such a large-scale referendum. They also claim, given that this affects all of Spain, other Spanish citizens should have a say in the matter.

Other arguments regarding Catalan’s independence only lead to its expulsion of the European Union. In 2013 Joaquin Almunia, an European Union commissioner, stated that if Cataluña were to gain independence from Spain they would have to exit the European Union. This would mean economic chaos in Cataluña, as the joining of the EU would have to be approved from the other countries already apart of the EU, including Spain. For these reasons the world continues to debate whether this is a good idea.

Catalan independence is also a highly discussed topic in sports because of current teams such as Barcelona F.C and FC Barcelona Bàsquet competing in the Spanish national soccer and basketball leagues. Spanish national teams, as well as individual athletes also include various Catalan players, such as Marc Márquez Alentà who is a Catalan Moto GP rider that represents Spain not Cataluña.

All these debates are relevant to the general elections of September 2015 because the pro-independence parties received 1.9 million out of 4 million votes, which is just under the absolute majority of the votes. ‘Junts Pel Sí’ (Català for “Together for Yes”) was the most voted party that got 39.54% of the votes, revealing the desire of independence from the people in Cataluña. The successful result from a pro-independent perspective could put more pressure on the Spanish government and the nationalist protests in Cataluña. Catalan’s independence raises the question of whether the governments and/or people should follow the law or constitution even though they believe it goes against their rights. Should Spain risk losing Cataluña to grant people their desire? Will Spain be able to avoid a referendum or independence?

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