Cosas de Financial Times, que sigue siendo el diario financiero más influyente de Europa, citando a Alberto Ruiz Gallardón.
Financial Times, Catalonia: Another country.
“Los riesgos de inestabilidad han tomado una dimensión europea”.
“Riesgos de efecto “dominó” en Euskadi”.
“La independencia de Cataluña sería el fin de España”.
“La crisis se agrava cuando dos partes tienen una visión distinta de la realidad y ambascreen que pueden ganar”.
… Some analysts worry that financial markets may come to view the simmering tensions as a cause for concern.
“Why is everyone still so calm about this? I think it is because markets are not good at assessing political risk. They usually dismiss it until they see it – and then they react suddenly and extremely,” says Luis Garicano, a professor of economy at the London School of Economics.
The Catalan challenge has long ceased to be a national matter. Alarmed by the prospect of political instability in Spain, European leaders such as Angela Merkel have waded into the debate in recent months, siding openly with Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, and against Catalan independence.
It is not hard to see why the prospect of Catalan secession, distant as it may appear, is so alarming to Spain. Catalonia accounts for 16 per cent of Spain’s population and almost a fifth of the economy. Losing the region would deprive the country of an economic powerhouse and a vital source of tax revenue: Catalonia is home to many of Spain’s largest corporations and best research institutions. Its capital, Barcelona, ranks as one of the world’s great cities, drawing in almost twice as many tourists as Madrid. No fewer than five of the 11 players that won Spain the World Cup in 2010 are Catalan.
Scotland’s contribution to the UK, in terms of people and economic output, is far smaller. But there is another crucial difference: even if Scotland says Yes to independence, there is little danger that Wales or Northern Ireland will follow down the secessionist road. In the case of Spain, there is no such guarantee. The Catalan referendum campaign has triggered calls for a similar plebiscite in the Basque country, traditionally the main focus of secessionist tensions in Spain. Furthermore, hardcore Catalan separatists have made clear their ambition to recreate eventually the greater Catalonia of medieval times, by drawing the Balearic Islands and the Valencia region away from Spain.
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The deepest, darkest fear of policy makers in Madrid is encapsulated in a blunt warning by Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, Spain’s justice minister. Catalan independence, he has said, would simply “put an end to Spain”.
In Madrid the surge in separatist sentiment is usually blamed on the recent economic crisis. Advisers to Mr Rajoy see the clamour for independence as a byproduct of economic frustration and predict it will weaken once Spain’s nascent recovery gains strength. Another culprit is found in Catalonia’s education system and parts of the regional media, which critics say have bred resentment of Spain, along with a nativist sense of victimhood.
“All this has created a mentality where the next logical step is independence”, says Francesc de Carreras, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Barcelona, and a prominent opponent of secession.
In Catalonia, activists counter that the region has always seen itself as a nation apart, with its own language, history and culture. They describe a long process of frustration with Spain, culminating in a landmark 2010 ruling by the country’s constitutional court to strike down a new statute setting out the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. The statute, which would have further bolstered Catalan autonomy, had been approved by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments, and was backed by a popular referendum in the region.
For many Catalans the statute offered the last chance to find a political accommodation within the Spanish realm. When it was struck down – by a court dominated by conservative appointees – they saw independence as the only path left.
“Part of Catalan society trusted the Spanish state, and thought we would be treated correctly. But that confidence has now disappeared. Catalans feel their good faith and their hopes were betrayed by Madrid,” says Oriol Junqueras, the leader of the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana Catalan party (ERC).
Amid this swirl of competing narratives, grievances, fears and aspirations, no one is feeling the political heat more than Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia. A relatively recent convert to the cause of independence, he says he is committed to holding a referendum in November. But he has also made clear that he will only go through with the vote if it is legal.
That is a potentially critical caveat, because the constitutional court is widely expected to rule in the coming months that an independence referendum, even if it is non-binding, cannot proceed. Mr Junqueras insists the vote must be held, and points out that his party’s political alliance with Mr Mas and the ruling Convergència i Unió party hinges on the promise of a referendum. “There is one fundamental demand in Catalonia, and that is to vote,” Mr Junqueras says.
Officials close to Mr Mas say he may not be able to satisfy that demand. To defy the ruling of Spain’s highest court would almost certainly provoke harsh countermeasures from Madrid, and possibly split his party. An illegal referendum would also likely be boycotted by large parts of the Catalan population, ensuring a low turnout.
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Most analysts believe Mr Mas will instead opt for early regional elections, with a view to turning the vote into a quasi-referendum on independence. The regional leader himself insists that, one way or the other, Catalans will have to vote on their future. “In a democracy, you cannot stop the democratic reaction of a country or society,” says Mr Mas.
A new, strongly pro-independence Catalan parliament could then be moved to issue a unilateral declaration of independence. But an early election could also mark the end of Mr Mas’s career in politics: polls predict that the ERC would emerge as the strongest party, with Mr Junqueras as Catalan leader.
In Madrid, these dilemmas are viewed with quiet satisfaction. Officials there have long believed that the Catalan independence movement would ultimately radicalise and split. With the Spanish government refusing to budge one millimetre, moderate nationalists may eventually decide they have no appetite for unilateral moves, let alone acts of civil disobedience against the Spanish state.
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Prof Garicano warns that the biggest danger for Spain and Catalonia lies in the fact that both sides are living in different realities. “In Catalonia, people believe they will vote and that independence is possible,” he says. “In Madrid, there is a consensus that this is absurd.” That divergence provides fertile ground for escalation and miscalculation: “Conflict takes place when two parties have a different view of reality – and when both sides think they can win.”… Financial Times, 11 septiembre 2014, Tobias Buck, Catalonia: Another country.
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