As the Spanish Nation goes to the Polls for the fourth time in the same amount of years, this important Election is one that has serious implications for Spain and its people. The Election will be fought on the way each party has responded to The Catalan Independence movement and how best to deal with it. The bad blood between Madrid and the Catalans goes back a long way, most notably when The Catalans lost The War Of Spanish Succession and surrendered to the Castilian Bourbon King Philip. Regarded as anti-Monarchists, by the loyalists to the crown, they also supported the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. That defeat by General Franco’s imported armies, aided by Hitler, Mussolini and the Roman Catholic Church, condemned the Catalans to decades of purgatory, stripped of their language and enduring brutal repression under the Franco regime. Interestingly the General was much more benevolent to Ibiza, and ensured that the island was protected, thanks to the infulence of PP loyalists, the Matutes family.
The PP party, Ciudadanos and the radical right wing party Vox, have all called for a tough line to be taken on Catalonia. They have suggested that the region should be stripped of its autonomy and direct rule from Madrid imposed on it. The socialist PSOE party under acting Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, while not as radical, has supported the rule of law and the Guardia Civil in its handling of the Barcelona riots fueled by the jailing of the Catalan cabinet that declared independence in 2017, an act of sedition according to the Spanish judicial system, but vehemently denounced by the Catalans and raising eyebrows with the International Court of Human Rights. The only party to offer a conciliatory approach to the Catalan question is Podemos and its leader Pablo Iglesias who has called for dialogue to try and resolve the situation. National polls taken in Spain last week, resulted in a majority for those in favour of the long sentences given to the political prisoners, so according to the media, much of Spain supports the hard stance being taken on Catalonia.
There are cultural factors at play, that we as guests of the complicated union of 17 autonomous regions that make up Spain, will not fully comprehend. I feel Fascism is too harsh a word, to describe what is more a right wing agenda of power and economic infulence over a region that is productive, wealthy and enjoys a 580KM long Mediterranean coastline. Nobody wants to loose Catalonia on their watch, but every nation has a right to self determination and this is what the Catalan question is raising in Spain. How the people of the other 16 regions vote on Sunday will determine Spain’s future, a vote for the right wing parties and PSOE will be viewed as a rejection of self determination and a rallying call to protect the union, which will only add fuel to the separatists fire in Catalonia, possibly giving birth to an ETA styled generation of violent resistance. A good result for Podemos is what I am hoping for, as it was the only political party outside Catalonia calling for negotiation and respect between the two proud states. It could be the surprise result of this election but this is Spain and rarely do its citizens sit on the fences or offer compromise, but one this is for sure, the Catalan question is not going to go away anytime soon.