I write this to put order in my head and to provide some civilized public into this topic: So, here we are, in Catalonia. Some people may think: Spoiler : Link to video. Some people, especially the other two main catalan representatives in this forum, are slightly more excited. The Catalan Question: Here I'm going to try and position ate myself as a neutral observer. I might fail though Origins: Keep in mind that Spain can be divided into three main blocks: West: Portugal, Center: Castille. East: Aragon. That and the world-class anomaly that is the Basquenland. The differences between those three blocks are ethnical, linguistic and cultural. But were they inevitable, historically speaking? No. Spain could be now like France, which is une et indivisible. If we take the Castillian perspective, things were 'done right' in France. A policy of centralization was done since the earlier times of when the HRE was the 'Frankish' Empire. The right to subjucate culturally. Centralization that only became apparent with the Bourbons and Louis XIV, went official with the 1st Republic, and felt its final blow to regionalisms in the trenches of WW1. Especially Occitania. Had the world gone different, the southern half of France would be a nation so different from Paris as Italy or any other neighboring country. And if the central government of Spain had done things right, there would be too a Madrid et la Champagne. Had the world gone different, and it wouldn't have been very difficult to be so, maybe Portugal would be part of Spain, and Catalonia, or Aragon, independent. Maybe Spain would encompass all three parts, and only Spanish would be spoken integrally. What happened? The origins of the Eastern block of Spain were in the Frankish Empire, the Castillians and Portuguese, were the remnants of the Visigothic kingdom before Al-Andalus. The two parts evolved into kingdoms until Castille and Aragon merged as equals, and later Felipe II gained Portugal. Had Felipe established the capital in Lisboa the world would be very different, but he was a timid and somewhat reclusive man, intelligent and efficient as he could be. He remained in Castille. The actions of a few, in this sense, shape the world for centuries, and history is the opposite of inevitable. To claim historical reasons to gain an objective is to legitimize a dice roll. What did the elite in Madrid for centuries wrong and what differentiated it from Paris? In this sense, the objective of cultural agglutination of both states have been very similar. We could delve in the cultural way of acting of each culture, specially the elites, but imho we're getting too anthropological here. The thing is the Castille considered lost Portugal to soon, maybe because it had not sufficient influence to seize it, maybe because the roughness of both spanish climate and geography has always resulted in more local or regional singularities, added up to the supposed proud spanish character, which doesn't help things. It did keep Galicia quieted down, at least, but to cost of extreme poverty and marginalization whereas in an alternate universe it could be much more stronger. It did succeed completely in eradicating any remnant of moorish culture. With Aragon, Castille began its centralization process but did not finish it. And with this cultural evolution, this 'end of history' of the last century, time is up. You did not your homework. Catalonia rebounced. How? The Asturiano, the Leones, the Aragones, the Navarro, all of them were (are) (nearly) extinct languages that were victims of this centralization process. But Aragon is so big. And when Aragon I mean Aragon itself+Valencia+Catalonia+Baleares. The line of castillian colonization stopped near the Catalan border, and the half of the Valencian region. Why? It began late, very late. Officially. What was the objective of Fernando and Isabel in their marriage in 1478. Castille was more powerful than Aragon, yes, but Aragon itself was on the brink of converting itself into the next superpower of the Christendom. it had lost Naples time ago, but recently it had reseized with extreme facility. Aragon had had a great time in the 13th Century. The following two slowed down it's inevitable expansion with plagues, bad harvests, crisis, and a long unfortunate etc. Plus, France had won the fight over Occitania. And wow Occitania was far away from Paris that time, both culturally and physically. Aragon was very decentralized, yes, but now, at the end of the 15th century, it had grasped (with Venice) all the Mediterranian commerce, and now had so much gold, manpower and armies to take over the world, both Christian (with the approval of the Pope) and Muslim, beginning by Italy. And with Castille, they would be unparalleled. All the united kingdom strategy was going to be the orientation to the Mediterranian. Barcelona would be the capital, or Valencia, two cities which in that time were the same as big. Spoiler : The discovery of the Americas changed all that. Aragon entered a deep crisis while the Center and Western blocks of the peninsula, now culturally established, flourished with the spices trades and the metal extractions from UltraMar. The strategy shifted west, Aragon was kept marginalized. The elites started Speaking Castillian and would not stop until the 20th century. The final blow the only theoretical now union of Castille and Aragon was dealt in 1714. In the Spanish succession war I will not extend much as I rely on your history knowledge. But key was the factor of the death of the older brother, Joseph I, of the Austrian throne claimer, Charles VI in the middle of the war, as the Netherlands and GB stopped supporting him as they didn't want again a Spanish-Austrian megablock. Charles VI renounced to the Spanish throne and only Aragon kept with the war. (Only Catalonia, as Zaragoza and Valencia had already failed). In this interview in Spanish you can have many details and solve misconceptions about the conflict: http://www.elmundo.es/espana/2014/09/12/5412a65e268e3ec6088b456f.html The 'Fueros' of the three main parts of Aragon (Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia), that is, the local laws and privileges, were stripped, and from here, the Castillians got in a risky move, that could have gone bad or good. It went bad. Centralization to Aragon: http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/7243/3216/1600/345397/mapa_espanya_assimilada.jpg To equal Castille to Spain, when its not. To say the Francoist slogan: España 'UNA' (one), grande y libre (great and free). Had they accomplished the Catalan integration into Castillian Spain, the success would have been resounding, but it was difficult, and Madrid was not Paris. And during centuries, and still now on, corruption, nepotism and bad moral practices have been higher in Spain than in the rest of Occidental Europe. The centralization plan had two main tactics. The first one emerged during the 19th century. The general rule was: "Convertiremos Madrid en un vergel, Bilbao en una gran fábrica y Barcelona en un immense solar" (That is, we will make Madrid super splendorous, Bilbao in a big factory (it was the most industrialized zone in Spain in the 19th Century, along with Catalonia, specialized in metals), and Barcelona in a great 'sandlot' for the lack of a better word. And the government prohibited the growth of Barcelona outside the city walls until 1860, when permission was given and the famous Pla Cerdà was made. Barcelona grew immensely, like it had been so pressurized that it almost exploded. The second part of the plan came during Franco's regime (1939-1975) after the Civil War. Basically it profited from the rural exodus and consisted to shift the internal immigration not only to Madrid and other big cities, but also specially to Barcelona. The plan succeeded and failed at the same time. On one hand, at achieved to dilute Catalan culture into Spain some decades and fall Barcelona and Catalonia with Andalusians and Extremadurians (is that the word?), as well as many other people from other parts from Spain. It failed in the sense that Barcelona grew such a lot more. Barcelona was not as important as Madrid now, of course, but still, now it held firmly it's ground (we're talking about 1977, after Franco's death, during the transition). Now, in this year, the first great demonstration of democracy about Catalonia was held. Estimated were 1.200.000 participants. This caught Madrid off guard. In the new Constitution, immense administrative power were given to the new regions, the Comunidades Autónomas (the autonomous communities). Consensus was that this was enough. But let's go back for a bit. Catalanism is, as a explained earlier, the product of the semi castillian colonization of Spain, strong enough to break the concept of the Aragonese nation, but not enough to arrive into Valencia 100%, and most importantly, Catalonia. We have talked a lot about Aragon but not enough about Catalonia. Has been Catalonia historically a nation? This is a very debated topic, but one thing is clear, to say YES or to say NO is not possible. The concept of Catalonia seems to have originated like in the XI century or so, after the concept of Hispanic March disappeared when the kingdom of Pamplona (later Navarra) emerged and the count of Aragon declared himself king. There were many other counties. Sobrarbe and Ribagorça, under the influence of Aragon, and 'the rest': Urgell (always big and snarky), Pallars, deep into the Pyrenees, Empuries (little but also reticent to authority), the Roselló, Capcir, and other two or three that now form the French Roussillon, and finally mainly Barcelona, which engulfed Cerdanya, Girona, Osona, Besalú, Berga, etc. All this region was commonly named Catalonia, and Barcelona was its de facto capital, never de iure. From the beginning of the union in 1162 of the Kingdom of Aragorn and the County of Barcelona (the rest of the counties were like semi vassal and semi independent), the holder of the Principality of Catalonia was called Count of Barcelona, fact which helps to reflect the abstention of this notion of Catalonia as an entity, much mess independent. (Note: The De Facto vassalization of all this area to France finished when legendary Guifre 'the Hairy in 878 elected his son as successor and since then all the area wouldn't listen to the king of France.) Catalan language, customs, traditions, etc. were being absorbed by the Castillian ones, as I said earlier, in Aragon (region) already before the dynastic union, and in Aragon (Crown) after it. The 19th century, specially after the 1st Republic (1868-1874), saw the movement of the "Renaixença", the Renaissance of Catalan as a language used publicly, and artistically. It began as a culture movement. The political movement was tiny and still had no objectives. Independence was absurd. It grew more political until the first Republic. Some extremists (for the era), already had proposed the ideal of independence, but it was widely ignored. It did happen, in the 2nd Republic, in 1934, the Catalan Republic was proclaimed by the president of the Generalitat. It was a personal more a personal move by him that an institutionalized act that the majority of the Catalans wanted. Those were such such turbulent times, the years before the republic, the system was mad. But in the Catalan case, the extremist section was already occupied by many anarchists and communists who didn't care much about Catalonian independence as much as the revolution of the proletariat. In reality, what had happened was the catalans, mostly the elite, were absolutely fed up with Madrid and its centralized policy, which inhibited catalan culture for centuries and causes many many frictions with the superbig (at least compared to the rest of Spain) Catalan entrepreneur bourgeoisie. And this spirit lingered on. Back to 1977. The new regional system comes with an obscure treaty. Jordi Pujol, nowadays in the epicenter of a super big scandal involving corruption, governed with his party, CiU (Convergencia u Unió) mainly moderate nationalists from Center, with many absolute majorities, uninterruptedly from 1980-2003. This treaty was done with Felipe Gonzalez, the PSOE socialist president who run Spain from 1982 to 1996 and consisted essentially in: you leave alone the catalan bourgeoisie and I support you in Madrid always. We mustn't forget 1992. The super boost to Barcelona the olympics gave can be still smelled in the city nowadays, in infrastructure, touristically, commercially, culturally, everything. Barcelona is now an entity as important as Madrid and Lisboa, much more above than any other Spanish city. The three blocks I explained earlier continue today. Not only that. Catalonia is super centralized. In the region over 7,5 million live, maybe 5 of them live within 30 Kms from 'the city'. Barcelona has everything a big capital should need. A super big airport, port, logistics center, cultural influence, important banks and multinationals, a world-class touristic brand, and a big etc. And the most important thing. A very big elite. Very big. Very cohesive. Very patriotic. Very rich. And very ancient. The Barcelona's 400 families nucleus and all the 'Alta Societat' around them exist since medieval times and in these last 40 years of democracy they have intertwined politics and economics, both for good and bad (corruption). The economic, political, social force, influence of Barcelona, contained to this little territory of Catalonia, cannot now be contained easily. This is why they have always wanted more and more power. In this last decade the movement of Catalonia as an ideal as grown exponentially. In 2006 the first bubble grew over the question of the Estatut, the magna carta which specifies which powers would the government give to Catalonia. It was approved in referendum, but the central government banned it. In 2010 a great debate arose over the question of the 'Pacte Fiscal'. Catalonia wanted the same treatment as the Basquenland and Navarra have nowadays, with special fueros derived from historical reasons, which consist essentially in the these regions manage their own taxes and the rest they give to Spain, not the other way around like the rest of the regions. A de facto (i like this expression a lot) nearly total independence from the central government. Again the government did not negotiate. From there the situation has escalated pretty quickly. 10-15 years ago, independentism was something widely known as something 'of the minority', a very vocal, mostly young and radical movement. Take 15% of the population wanted it. Then in these last years, the second type of independentists has arrived: The masses. Education propaganda, textbooks in schools (which I myself have experienced), semi control of some mass media, all of this, great process engineered by some few to one single objective: make the masses stop questioning 'why?', and begin questioning 'why not'? Spoiler : Typical specimens of brain eaten children. The objective has been achieved, a feat of social engineering, sentiment manipulation, and loads of money. Specially relevant has been that simple argument, so easily eatable by the masses, of the "Dret a Decidir", the right to decide. Of course, it is impossible to talk when people like in the photo of this. Because, dude, it all makes sense! Why would democracy not equal vote? Utterly disregardable are the philosophic implications this statement provides, directly against the international jurisprudence since the Declaration of Universal Rights, the then so called rights of the rest of Spanish people, who basically do not want to see their country even more f***ed up, because, frankly, be the case of independence achieved in Catalonia, it's unquestionable that a massive capital outflow would succeed, along with the relocation of many companies to other parts of Spain, and basically the break-up and defenestration and throw away of Catalonia's economic system. And do not talk even about the ever-gagantic opposition of Madrid and basically the rest countries of Europe, USA, etc. What did I say before that the time is up for Castille? So it is for Catalunya. This nationalistic sentiment is mainly based on sentimentalism and romanticism, it cannot pass a serious exam. The time for the forming of nations, at least in the western world, passed a century ago. It's too late. Catalonia has entered an impasse. It can bang itself against the wall or hit the reverse button. One thing has become clear, at least for Madrid. The time for centralization is history, and continue with it will only engrave the situation. Catalonia's point has been clear, now negotiations, based in consensus, have to follow. Catalan government issued a law regarding the voting the 9-November. The Spanish Constitutional Court has banned it. Radicals have the opinion to not to listen to the law. Moderates prefer not delegitimize the 'process' and try to make the law pass. Catalan president Artur Mas has two options: He is the head of CiU. They were moderates before but have been pushed by the independentist wave, and many of their voters, instead of going to him, have channeled through more extremist parties, like ERC. He can be moderate again, at cost of being viewed as a traitor by many parts of society, or continue down the path of illegality, face unknown consequences by the central government, become a 'political corpse' most likely, and be succeeded as the head of the secessionist movement by another political figure, more extremist, like Oriol Junqueras, the president of ERC. Spanish right wing president Mariano Rajoy has not good polls. In fact, he has lost half his voters over the course of 3 years. The two main points that maintained him as good decisions by his electorate are the abortion law, which has recently cancelled, going further down the polls, and the catalan question. He can choose to act firm as a rock and be seen then as a hero holder of Spanish unity and have more probabilities to win the elections Dec'15, or sit to negotiate, and expect to loose something to Catalonia, which would hurt him politically with the non-catalans even more. This 15th Artur Mas's government will decide publicly if they abide to the decision of the Consitutional Jury. It's the bottle neck we all see coming from years, even decades. What will happen? It's exciting to wait. As you can see, it's a long post for a complicated topic. I hope you liked it.