Is Spain a real country, or a collection of disgruntled nations pushed unwillingly together by history and destined, one day, to split? That may seem a strange question for a state whose external frontiers have remained remarkably stable for 350 years. But it will consume large amounts of political energy in 2013 as a surge of support for independence in the wealthy, north-eastern region of Catalonia aggravates worries about Spain’s future.
Events in 2012 set the tone. In September a march in Barcelona saw 8% of Catalans demonstrate peacefully for independence. The Catalan parliament petitioned for a change to the tax system, allowing the region to mimic the Basque provinces and collect taxes itself before sending a share to the central government, rather than the other way around. That petition was turned down by Spain’s conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.
Europe / Critical Mas / The Catalonia question
Nov 21st 2012 |From The World In 2013 print edition