The referendum on Catalan independence will be held on October 1:
The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, where a separatist movement is in full swing, on Friday announced an independence referendum for October 1st, in what will exacerbate tensions with Madrid. Speaking in Barcelona, Carles Puigdemont said the question would be: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?”
Catalonia, a wealthy, 7.5-million-strong region with its own language and customs, has long demanded greater autonomy. Separatist politicians in the northeastern region have tried for years to win approval from Spain’s central government for a vote like Scotland’s 2014 referendum on independence from Britain, which resulted in a “no” vote.
And while Catalans are divided on the issue, with 48.5 percent against independence and 44.3 percent in favour according to the latest poll by the regional government, close to three-quarters support holding a referendum.
But Catalan authorities have repeatedly been thwarted in their attempts to hold such a vote, arguing it goes against the constitution and would threaten the unity of Spain.
I don’t think “threatening the unity of Spain” is an effective argument to use against secessionists seeking independence, given that the destruction of unwanted unity is the essential point of declaring independence. To put this in perspective, Catalonia has about the same population as Switzerland, and, unlike Switzerland, actually has its own unitary language. It’s observably more of a nation than the United States.
I tend to find myself somewhat bemused by the Spanish reaction, which combines contempt for the feckless leftism of the separatists and the future prospects of an independent republic with fear that the separatists will succeed. But if all of the negative observations are true – and there is little reason to believe that they aren’t – then why not support the secessionist campaign? Why work so hard trying to stop it?
I know many, if not most, Americans would welcome Calexit or an independent New York City. Anyhow, regardless of how the Calatans vote, this is an additional indication that nothing will halt the continuing rise of nationalism around the world.