The Catalan independence movement is a perennial factor in Spanish politics, but it's had a new lease on life since the financial crisis and the imposition of brutal austerity by the country's banker-friendly, authoritarian government.
Last year's symbolic referendum was a sign of the region's displeasure with Madrid, and the annual independence marches grow bigger each year. Barcelona's election an anti-eviction activist to the mayor's chair is the surface expression of deep political discontent.
Across the EU, national unity is fraying as regions seek to break free of the neoliberal consensus on austerity and privatisation. Of course, the leaders of those fragile nations have lined up to tell Catalonians that a vote for independence will mean an end to EU membership — starting with David Cameron, who narrowly avoided losing Scotland to separatists last year. Cameron is merely returning a favor: the Scottish independence referendum was bollocked from the sidelines by Spain, whose national government made the same warning to Scots who wanted to break away from the banker-worshipping cult of Westminster.
With polls suggesting pro-independence parties could gain a slim majority on Sunday, a barrage of warnings was unleashed this week by those opposed to independence.
Spain's central bank said secession would risk exclusion from the eurozone, while the country's main banks – including two based in the region – cautioned that independence could undermine financial stability just as the country was beginning to shake off the lingering effects of the economic crisis.
The Spanish government argued that if Catalans broke off from Spain it would cost them their Spanish nationality, while the president of the Spanish professional football league said Barcelona would be left out of La Liga.
"Catalans aren't being told the real consequences of independence," the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, told Onda Cero radio station on Tuesday. "It would leave the EU. What would happen with pensions? There are many more pensioners than contributors. What would happen with financial institutions, with bank deposits, to the currency?"
Catalonia goes to the polls in an 'incredible moment for democracy'
[Ashifa Kassam/The Guardian]
(Image: Holding Hands for Catalan Independence NYC #CatalanWay #ViaCatalana #ViaCatalanaMon, Liz Castro, CC-BY-SA)