Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
What started out as a celebration that marked marking Catalonia’s “National Day” turned into one of the biggest gatherings the city has ever seen.Over a million Catalonians descended upon Barcelona yesterday, protesting current economic conditions, tax policies, and what they see as an unequal distribution of wealth.
“Catalonia: a new European state”
Catalonians have long viewed themselves as culturally distinct from the rest of Spain. They have their own history, traditions, and a distinct language native to their region. But now, the economic climate has driven a huge amount of people to favour full independence.
And even though Catalonia needed a €5 billion bailout package from Madrid last month, it still transfers up to 9 per cent of its GDP to Madrid annually.
“We don’t fit any more inside Spain,” former president of the Catalonian government, Jordi Pujol, told the Financial Times. While in office, Pujol was considered a staunch advocate against separatism. But his position has changed: “I have no arguments left against independence because Spain has made this so, it is making our country [Catalonia] unviable and we can’t accept this situation any longer.”
For the first time, the majority of Catalonians agree with him, according to polls conducted this year.
If Catalonia were to secede, it could cause a host of bureaucratic issues. According to the Guardian, not only would Catalonia have to reapply to the EU, but even its famed soccer team, F.C. Barcelona, would be relegated to playing in a semi-professional soccer league.
So far, the Castellano neighbours in Madrid aren’t exactly enamoured with the protest. “This isn’t a moment for big gestures like this,” said Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister. “What we need to do is create jobs.”
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