Louis Emanuel in The Independent:
The tide is turning, Catalan filmmaker Josep Citutat tells me. “Something is changing so fast. A lot of people around me, family and friends, who weren’t independent – now they are.” Record numbers marching on the streets outside his flat in Barcelona confirm his judgment. Around 1.5 million people were thought to have filled the streets of the Catalan capital last earlier this month. Independentistes poured in from around the region, creating a sea of yellow and red up and down the famous boulevards.
The strength of the protest was no surprise given the dire economic condition in the debt-addled region of a country suffering the worst of the eurozone crisis. As Europe has seen before, economic suffering is feeding nationalist sentiment.
Well, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with “nationalist sentiment.” If a majority of Catalans wish to go their own way, all power to them.
But in some ways, the real significance of the story is this:
History aside, a portion of this growing antagonism has its origins in the imbalance between what Catalans contribute to central government in Madrid and what they get back in return. The idea that they are supporting the rest of Spain, which is close to collapse, breeds resentment and mirrors similar reactions in northern Europe over the eurozone crisis in general.
There’s a reason that there’s not a lot of enthusiasm amongst Northern Europe’s political class for asking the voters for their approval of the slide towards a “transfer regime” (the euphemism for the looting of their people.) The idea that Germans, Finns, and Dutch, let alone hard-pressed Estonians, might feel that it is quite natural to dig into their pockets to bail out the Greeks and others beggars belief as well as taxpayers.
Meanwhile the FT reports:
“The hour has come to exercise our right to self rule,” said Artur Mas, Catalonia’s president. He called the vote, which is likely to be cast as a proxy referendum on Catalan independence, after Mr Rajoy last week rejected his demands for greater fiscal autonomy, triggering a wave of nationalist sentiment in the northern region.
The political turmoil within Spain came amid signs that a German-led group of eurozone countries were attempting to roll back an agreement reached in June that would free Spain of tens of billions of euros in bank bailout debt.
Remain calm. All is well.