Catalonia - catalyst for instability in Spain

The Catalan problem in Spain is again in the spotlight. The political crisis in the country doesn’t promise a quick way out, RISS expert Igor Pshenichnikov said. “The last surge of such political instability occurred at the end of 2017, when Catalonia held an independence referendum and after that the Generalitat proclaimed it. Then Madrid managed to suppress separatist movement that threatened to split the state,” the analyst said.

Today begins the trial of the Catalan separatists leaders. On their initiative, a scandalous plebiscite was held in October 2017, and a few days later Catalonia’s independence was proclaimed. 29 people are accused of rebellion, disobedience, and embezzlement of state funds. They may face up to 25 years in prison.

At the same time, the socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, formed by the support of the Catalan Nationalist Parties in Parliament, is under severe pressure from both separatists and supporters of a United Spain. According to RISS expert, the separatists use the fact that the government needs to approve the budget for 2019 until March, but it will not be able to approve it without the support of Catalan deputies. As a result, new general elections can be announced, and the socialists are unlikely to win.

In this situation, the Spanish government publicly announced the complete failure of the dialogue with the Generalitat. I.Pshenichnikov explained that the government is in a desperate situation. The state needs the support of separatists in Parliament, but it cannot violate the Constitution and grant Catalonia the right to self-determination. In this case, the Catalans would have a legitimate opportunity to hold a referendum, and such a plebiscite will lead to the separation of the region. In this scenario, “the whole of Spain will fall down like a house of cards,” he underscored.

The analyst believes that if the court announces a guilty verdict (expected in August), the Catalan problem will further worsen. He pointed out that the Spanish court can’t announce a mild sentence to the separatists in order not to give reason to the next generations of Catalan politicians to try to hold an independence referendum.

“The Catalan problem is not only Spanish, but also European. The separation of Catalonia will raise the question of how the region can remain within the EU and how Spain itself can cope with the problem. Most likely, not being able to recognize the Catalans’ right to self-determination, the government will not receive the support of the Catalan separatists, which means that there will be general elections in March in Spain,” the analyst concluded.


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