First Scotland, now Catalonia: Catalan region takes hope from Scottish referendum vote with independence no longer a ‘fantasy’

The shockwaves of the Scottish referendum are still reverberating in Catalonia where a campaign for independence from Spain is gathering momentum.

In an historic moment for modern Spain, the Catalan parliament passed an act which will allow a referendum in Catalonia.

However the Madrid central government have said they will challenge the act in Constitutional High Court.

It’s expected the High Court will declare the law unconstitutional to block the vote but Catalan President Artur Mas vowed to continue the struggle for independence.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Mas said: “(A referendum) is the way, the good way, and the only way to resolve such conflicts.”

The Scottish and Catalan campaigns share many similarities; thousands of people taking to the streets to demonstrate, left-wing frustration at conservative leadership and their existence as independent nations long before Spain and Great Britain existed.

The referendum in Scotland, despite the eventual no vote, has stirred up feeling in Catalonia.

Mireia Nicolas-Sánchez, a translator from Catalonia living in Glasgow, told SW Londoner: “Seeing all the solidarity coming from Glasgow and Madrid’s anger has definitely added momentum to the Catalan campaign.

“A 45% Yes vote in Scotland adds a lot of hope.

“Independence doesn’t look impossible any more – it’s no longer a fantasy.”

The key difference lies in the fact that whereas Scotland was allowed to decide its future for itself, the central Government in Spain has blocked any Catalan attempts to hold a referendum.

Mr Mas said: “What creates divisions is not being able to vote.

“Do you see that when you allow a vote to take place you can also win?”

The Catalan referendum, if it is allowed to go ahead, would ask the questions ‘do you want Catalonia to become a State? If yes, do you want this State to become independent?’.

The push for independence is reinforced by a very distinct sense of Catalan identity, history and language.

The Catalan language was banned under Franco’s dictatorship and more recently educational reforms have tried to enforce Spanish as an instruction language in all schools, including those in Catalonia.

Mireia spoke about the difference she has seen between the Catalan and Scottish campaign.

“In Scotland independence was presented merely has an economic answer to an unfair economic situation.

“In Catalonia, while of course the economic aspect is incredibly important, so is identity. Pro-independence rallies are exclusively in Catalan.

“And coming from that place, I couldn’t believe it when people talked in favour of independence… in English.

“As a Catalan speaker I was disappointed that they didn’t acknowledge Gaellic and its struggles because to me, along with more sound economic decisions, independence means living in my language and culture.

“Of course young people want economic independence, more jobs, but also there’s the feeling of protecting your own distinct identity.”

With Scotland waiting for the promises of the devo max to be fulfilled by David Cameron, the Catalan campaign continues to gather force despite opposition from Madrid.

Mr Mas assured the press that the movement will continue and was defiant towards Madrid when he said: “Voting does not divide us, it unites us.”

Picture courtesy of SBA73, with thanks

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