Spain may break up. If it does it will be because Madrid has been deaf to the feelings of the Catalans. The Catalans signed a Constitution in 1978 that said that should they ever want to become independent all of Spain would have to agree. This was a big mistake on their part. Because there is no way independence will ever happen in this framework. If there was a vote now in of Spain around 80% of Spaniards would vote against Catalonian independence, but around of 54% of Catalans would vote in favor in a Catalonia-only vote, which is what they want to have this Nov 9th. This is partly out of their desire to be independent but also because Madrid has told them that they have to live by the 78 Constitution no matter what. That even if most of them dislike being part of Spain they have to stay in. In my view Madrid and the rest of Spain should allow the Catalans to vote for their independence but with time to win them over again. And in those years it should first negotiate the exact conditions of their independence, and then go on a charm offensive as the British did. Most likely during an improving economy. If the Catalans become independent they could be out of the EU, out of the euro, etc. There are so many unknowns that I think it is possible to win against independence by truly showing more cons than pros. Moreover the Catalan leadership has been incredibly corrupt. Jordi Pujol one of the biggest promoters of Catalonian nationalism and leader of Catalonia for many years has made a huge fortune for him and his family out of the Catalonian people. Catalan leaders have issued dangerous levels of local debt and Catalonia was recently saved from absolute bankruptcy by Spain. Catalonia, as opposed to the Basque region who diversified its industrial base, has followed economic policies that were as ill conceived as those of Madrid. Catalonia has based too much of its investment on infrastructure and debt, overextended its welfare state and has achieved slightly worse results than Madrid. But by forbidding debate on independence what Catalans see is the negative of staying together. And they do have a point when they argue that they, as well as Madrid, give too much of their income to the rest of Spain. But this is something that should be renegotiated all over Spain, setting limits on regional transfers and making some regions of Spain manage slightly more on their own. This is not a Catalan problem, it’s a Spain problem. Both Madrid and Catalonia give around 8% of their GDP to Andalusia, Extremadura and so on and this should be modified. But as it stands, the existing Constitution is just not fair on the independence issue and will lead to civil disobedience. The Catalans may become independent in spite of the Constitution because the rest of Spain should not use military force to keep them in the Kingdom. Dialogue and showing the positives is the only valid unionist strategy. Personally I believe that Catalans have the right to be independent and as a Spaniard I see my objective that they choose not to do so, not that they are forced into the union. And I think there are enough valid reasons to stay united. It’s time to change the slogan from “España a la fuerza” to “Juntos molamos” o “mejor juntos” – better together as the British said.
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