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Catalonia: History of Independence

Info: 7853 words (31 pages) Dissertation
Published: 13th Dec 2019

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Tagged: HistoryPolitics

1.0 Abstract

Catalonia is a historically supressed region within Spain. After 1975, when the dictator Francisco Franco died it allowed for a new democratic Spain. This has resurfaced Catalan Nationalism. Most recently the Catalan region has called for a legal referendum in 2017, as the one held in 2014 was deemed illegal. Democracy takes priority within the region which has created increased tensions and potential for violence. The report showed there has been an increase in violence and that the governance and future threats are key concerns. The report highlights the grievances within the region, that have been accumulating.

2.0 Introduction 

Europe is experiencing modern day separatism, with currently over 25 active separatist movements. Spain is the most divided ‘nation’ within Europe having experienced the most civil wars of any country. Catalonia is the most profitable region in the north west of Spain making around 20 billion a year (BBC news 2013). They have recently called for another referendum in 2017 after having achieved an attendance rate during the last referendum in 2014 from the population of 30% of the 7.5 million. The polls from 2014 gaged an opinion that is in favour of independence for the region. The poll was deemed illegal by the Spanish government, which resulted in Arthur mass, Catalonia’s president, being arrested and numerous other legal cases against the Catalan politicians (The Guardian 2016). The protests, so far, have been peaceful however it has been assumed that this may not continue as an emergence of separatism could continue as theorised based upon the past and become violent. Many other places such as Scotland, who are allied in methods with Catalonia, called for a referendum in 2014 with a concluding vote of no and to stay within the United Kingdom (The financial times 2014) Most recently with 2016 the United Kingdom parted with the European union, in an event termed Brexit. The votes for Brexit were broken up into regions, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay within the European union which has resurfacing a call for a referendum from Scotland to be held in 2017. Within Northern Ireland the vote has caused talks around a united Ireland or for Northern Ireland to become independent. With the success of Brexit, the European union is not being presented in a positively.

Within this report the tern nation is going to be examined within theoretical and historical contexts to better understand the separatist movement within Catalonia. A field based analysis was conducted to gather the opinions of the Catalan population on the notion of independence and whether they think it will be obtained peacefully.

3.0 Research context

To understand the current situation within Catalonia its place within theories must be examined. Nationalism is defined as a political programme. It consists of groups of people who define as nations who form territorial states that have a single language (Hobshawm and Kertzer, 1992). Renan in (1882) said within his speech that a nation was “a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbours”. This nation joins biographies to have one common historical narrative (Calhoun 1993).  Nations and nationalism can be a complex definition with many theories on how it happens. Benedict Anderson (1983) differs in views with many scholars by seeing nationalism as an “imaginary political community”. He states that Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined

Ernest Gellner (1983) said that “nationalism is primarily a political principle that holds the political and the national unit should be congruent”. Gellner believes that nationalism was something that the modern world needed sociologically and mainly focuses on modernisation and industrialisation. Anthony smith was a critic of Gellner saying that he had misread the relationship that is between industrialisation and nationalism (Smith 1989). Smith (1989) is quotes to say that “the modern world had become inconceivable and unintelligible without nations and nationalism”

Bruielly (1982) shows more of an academic approach and states that when intellectuals or professionals miss out on important career opportunities this may lead to a rise in national ideology. Nationalism to him is portrayed through intellectuals as unsuccessful professionals. This is like Kedourie’s theory about indigenous intellectuals in colonial societies and how they too turned to nationalism. The abundance of intellectuals and inability for society to find them suitable roles may explain why they turn to nationalism. (Kedourie 1960) 

Nairn (1977) however, approaches nationalism in a study from a Marxist perspective. He considers nationalism to be a bourgeois phenomenon which can be seen to be a product of the disparities within capitalism (Nairn 1977). The continuation of nationalism is linked with the interests of the bourgeois (Anderson 2006).

Focusing on Europe, Woodrow Wilson’s had a large impact on the Versailles Peace Conference that began outside of Paris in 1919. He had a plan to divide Europe it into ethnic-linguistic territorial states. The project was impracticable as well as dangerous, the cost of this feat would have been mass expulsion and genocide (Hobshawm 1992). However, a nation cannot be born they’re made in response to international incentive and power policies (Fearon 2004). Nationalism has been the source of anxiety and conflict in European history (Coppieters 2010). Borgen (2010) states that there were currently twenty to twenty-five separatist movements across the continent. The movements may be based upon cultural and political issues and the majority are non-violent. Separatism is mainly linked to nationalism and their ideologies. There have been two consecutive waves of separatism. In the 1950’s the first separatist movement began with the decolonisation of the world, this questioned the legitimacy of boundaries that establish under colonialism. This was closely followed by the second which happened at the end of the cold war in the 1960s toward the beginning of democratisation in the 1980 and 1990’s. The second wave was surrounded by the suppression of people’s rights and liberties under the communist regimes (Schaeffer 1998, Agnew 2001).

Recent separatist movements like that in Yugoslavia from 1991- 2001 were driven by the common notion of an economic disparity. This movement was against the state as they failed to deal with this, however there was also territorial divisions within the state that showed internal colonialism based upon ethnicity and nationality (Agnew 2001)

Guibernau (2000) sees nation states as a cluster of institutions that are defined and governed by the state. Stateless nations can enjoy cultural or political autonomy based upon the state’s decision. In most cases within a region that is trying to be separate their nation, the political issues that have arisen are based upon previous governmental experiences of nation building. States and nations that are trying to establish are understood to be real communities with enduring collectivises. (Brubaker 1996)

To establish social cohesion for a nation building project a common identity must be established, linguistic campaigns are a powerful tool in doing this. It allows for people to bring the communities fears together by reducing embarrassment about speaking a native language.  (Webber 1991; Trueta 2008)

The Catalan region in the North West of Spain during the Franco regime (1939-1975) had languages and identities supressed along with other regions. This then meant that Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, had suffered neglect. His regime created tensions in the country’s political system. It believed that Spain consists of ethnically defined identities in several regions (Bylan 2014). When democracy was restored after 1975, there had been a shift towards expressing the regional identities. The Catalan region sees itself as an independent metropolis (Mellon,2008)

In history by 1898, the nationalist movements of Catalonia and the Basque country had emerged in wanting their own identity, these sources of national identity threatened the hegemonic position of Spanish nationalism (Muro 2005; Pozo Andrés and Braster 1999). Basque and Catalan nationalist movements however in more recent times within Spain have unified this Spanish nationalism again (Muro 2005).  Spain is not however a formal federation it is a unitary state that has given devolving power to seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities in a system that is called the state of autonomies (Bylan 2014).

This is consistent with the theory that contemporary separatism is the product of the rise in modern nationalism and that they are overcoming the previous nation building project. Today in Catalonia, the current project is to build true Catalan culture through language as this is the ultimate expression. (Illas, 2014). Catalonians also express this through rituals and festivities such as human towers (Castells) (Giner 1980). The separatist movement had been mainly led by linguistics and a traversed class with rallies in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 that have staged a transformation in separatism (Illas 2014). The modern-day disparities of the Catalan people are based upon their history.

4.0 Historical context

To understand fully where Catalonia fits within the nation-building theories it is important to understand the common historical narrative within the state.

Starting with the 14th century within Catalonia, there was political and economic decline, due to the successive waves of the great plague. By 1365 Catalonia has lost half a million people, and in the 15th century Barcelona had its lower ever population. (Giner 1980). During the 15th century the Catalan capital was gripped by the civil war. The maritime power that once existed there was starting to decline. (Giner 1980). Now, there was a transition from early medieval contractually to liberal societies who have more of an individualistic approach. Elliot (1963) mentions the revolt of the reappears between 1640- 1652, when the Catalan people united due to castile giving them harsh treatment.

The war of succession in Spain happened between 1702 to 1714. Barcelona resisted unification and was besieged in march 1713 (Guibernau, 2000) Felipe V built a fort (the Ciutadella) so Barcelona could be watched. He banned writing and teaching in Catalan and distributed Catalonia’s possessions to great powers (Webber, 1991) This abolished Catalan rights and liberties and they were subject to regime occupation (Gibernau 2000; Gibernau 2014). The events that took place started the process of national integration and state-building within Catalonia (Moreno 1988)

In the 18th century the Spanish economy was based around agriculture. The Napoleonic invasion devastated the country and lead to political instability (Patrick 2016). Catalonia made positive gains with the urban middle classes and created confidence. Barcelona was then transformed into the capital of a society that was industrialising and modernising (Webber 1991). Defeudalization was happening around this time. Spain was in the process of homogenisation under the bourbons. They forcibly generalised the Castilian law and the institutions, they were creating a modern centralised state and this was completed in 1812. (Giner,1980)

The trade union movement after World War One was led by the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) which had 80& of the cities workers. Between 1919 and 1920 there was a wave of strikes and union leaders were eliminated. Dictator General Miguel primo Rivera had conflicting views on the working-class radicalism (Giner 1980) Rivera’s repression ended in 1930, he did not successfully stop the unity in Catalonia. In 1931 the formation of a Spain’s republic this was driven by the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. The leftist popular front in 1936 won genuine autonomy (Guibernau 2014; Illas 2014). The class system of the society at that time was a product of the successive waves of industrialisation and advances in urbanisation. (Giner 1980). 

The genuine autonomy that was gained by the Catalonians was short lived as the result of the Spanish civil war between 1936-1939.After Francisco Franco’s Victory in the war he imposed a pro-fascist and militarised Spain, laying emphasize on Castile as the ‘ethnic core’ of the nation (Muro 2005). The Franco regime between 1939-1975 supressed the languages and identities of the Catalonian people (Webber 1991). During this time persecutions took place of Intellectuals and language speakers. The education system featured no Catalan and the street names were changed to Castilian Spanish (Marinzel 2014). Francoist propaganda changed the narrative of the civil war to be that of a crusade and associated leftists and anti-Spain figures as a ‘cancer’ of the nation that needed to be cured (Richards 1998)

The Catalonian population increased with massive migrations from deprived areas in other parts of Spain during the 1960’s and 1970’s (Serrano 2013). During this time, Catalonian separatism was emerging again as a political opposition to the dictatorship. They rivalled in literature and the arts which moulded the Catalan identity (Muro 2005). After Franco’s death in 1975, a central part of the regional policy was to promote the Catalan language. In 1978 Catalonian was defined as a democratic state within the new Spanish constitution which had granted autonomy (Giberneau 2000). This allowed for the Catalan people to change the educational system and policies within the region. In 1975 online 60% of people in Catalonia spoke Catalan whereas in 2001, 76% of Catalonians spoke Catalan (Borgen 2010). Regional feelings for Catalan nationalism rose in the 1990s and early 2000s, with it being rated sixth amid Spanish autonomous communities (Moreno 2001). Patterns of similar relationships between identity and independence emerge (Muro 2005; Serreno 2013).

5.0 Discussion

Nationalism changes all the rules; a nations existence is based upon the past experiences and it challenges historians to decide a nations existence. History however is not as clear as would believe and interpretations and narratives can be different (Marino 2002). Modern day nationalism may be overcoming the previous nation-building project. Catalonians hope to achieve this by assertion of their own culture (Illas 2014). The region has been suppression numerous times as mentioned and the clear territory and history that define it as a nation are evident (Smith 1998).

In the fight for independence Catalonia is aware that that staying a part of the European union is important, as there are strong ties with Spain and the European single market. With the situation in Catalonia baring resemblance to that in Scotland and the Catalan foreign affairs minister recognises that it should too have the right to vote in a legal referendum as that would stay true to democracy and a constitution is a text that is written under certain circumstances, these circumstances can change. (The guardian 2016)

Brexit in the UK isn’t good news as it questions the European project. An MP called Ciudadanos accused the separatist movement of removing the state out of the 21st century. Previously however other politicians such as Mr Fernandez would welcome an exit from the EU as he sees it as being ruled by capitalists. (The Independent 2015)

The rise in separatism and the need for independence grows stronger as the Catalan government fight for responsibility for taxation and spending policy (Boylan 2015). Previous grievances have shaped Catalonia culture and the desire to return to being an autonomous region is still wanted. The Catalans may fall into Renan’s definition in 1882 of a nation “a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbours” as the public polls reflect a rise of opinion of violence in the region. Arthur Mas the former president hopes that his prosecution for the illegally deemed poll will also be a cry for the cause of independence from Spain (The Financial times 2017).

6.0 Field based analysis

6.1 Methodology

–    6.1.1 Day 1 – Observational study of landscape

Figure 1: The route that was taken on the first day during the streetscape observational exercise

The streetscape of Barcelona needed to be understood. A transect of the area was carried out in small groups. These groups covered different areas all meeting back at the same point at the Sagrada Familia, the route can be seen in figure 1.

The results of the small groups were combined to gain a large-scale view of the area. Along this route elements that are seen to represent the Catalan conflict were taken note of. The different types of flags, graffiti, street names and political posters and murals along with anything else that could be seen to potentially represent the conflict were recorded. Within a table format the route walked was recorded along with where the observation occurred and a small discussion was help to note the implications of what we had seen. The differences in areas we walked through was noted as the route lead to a tourist area however was through mainly residential streets.

6.1.2 Day 2 – Historical Narrative

A guided walk through the city was undertook to identify the monuments that may commemorate previous conflicts. Along the walk the date in which the monument was erected was taken down, along with what it was and what it is commemorating. The reason behind doing this was to analyse how culture and history is remembered within Barcelona. Certain aspects of the monuments were noted such as what way the history is shown and If the monument represents one side more.

To gauge an idea of the historical narrative Barcelona was trying to perceive, 3 historical sites were visited. These were the Catalan museum, El Borne centre and memorial democratic. The sites were visited to understand the story they are telling. A similar study was undertaken by Breen et al (2016), and observations were noted such as, is there anything that is not present within the museum? Is there any important messages they are trying to highlight? Is there a main language?

To see whether the people within the museum either working or visiting understood its role, a semi structured interview was carried out.  The questions asked recorded their understanding of the role, if heritage plays a role in Catalan separatism and whether any part of the centre was controversial.

6.1.3 Day 3- Semi- Structured Interviews

A method of semi structured interviews was carried out to collect qualitative data on the publics perceptions of important issues with Catalonia whilst gathering information about the person in question. The questions that were asked were:

  1. Are you from this neighbourhood?
  2. What is your first language?
  3. Did you vote in the last referendum?
  4. Were you happy with the outcome?
  5. Do you think Catalonia will gain independence? Do you think this will be achieved peacefully?

These questions were asked to gather information on, the nationality of the person, the language in which they see to be their language, their political participation, their views about the last referendum and views on future independence for the state along with how possible violence will be.

Cohen and Crabtree (2006) have shown the benefits of using semi structured interviews as you will only get to speak with that person one time. They also highlight the importance of it being undertaken by small groups as they collect the same information to show the varied opinion over a large area. The results are comparable and the results are collated. With a large sample taken the results could be representative public opinion and could be compared with polls that have been previously taken. This will show how the opinions in the region have changed over time. The route that was taken can be seen in figure 2.

Figure 2:  Route taken and main stops while conducting semi structured interviews.

6.1.4 Day 4- Quantitative Data

A quantitative data collection in the form of a social vulnerability survey. Social vulnerability shows which elements of society are worrying the most. The survey had a scoring system included the value 1 meaning that they strongly agree with the statement and 5 representing strongly disagree. The statements represented the social, economic, environmental and political situations along with opinions on the future of Catalonia.  This type of survey was conducted in small groups again and allowed the results to be combined and numerically represented. The triangulation of multiple methods stated within Duffy’s (1987)’s papers shows that this method gives a complete collection approach.

7.2 Observations and Results

7.2.1 Street Observational Survey

From the transect that was carried out general observations were made. The city has undergone times of suppression and conflict and from the observations generalities were made as things observed could be expressions of nation-hood. Hans Christian Andersen in 1862, commented on Barcelona by saying that the city was the “Paris of Spain”. The first notable feature was that of the layout of the streets, the city consists of grand octagonal blocks. Antoni Gaudi has a huge influence on the architecture of Barcelona, with many Catalan people they associate his work with a period called Renaixença, which tried to show better times (Giner 1980). He has become a symbol of the city.

The Flags that were on the residential buildings held much significance to how they stood politically. The flags that presented Catalonia were mainly flown on buildings that were residential with the souvenir shops that sold the flags only stocking Catalan related items. The flags within the residential area differed, from the slogan that was upon it to whether it had a star present. They can send a political message and are used in campaigns. It is a tool in which the Catalan people are not afraid to change, with a flag holding great significance to a group of people, they are willing to alter the flag to send a strong political message (Borgen, 2010). Alongside the Catalan flag EU flags were found, this says that the Catalan people are scared that with independence come an exit from the single market. This is a strong incentive to stay within the unified state of Spain (Patrick 2016). Scotland holds close parallels in situations with Catalonia. The British government has also driven nationalism in the last referendum with the fear of leaving the European Union. The Scottish flag was observed on the transect showing the close similarities. The Catalan flags declined in numbers when leaving the residential area heading towards the centre. The buildings in the centre had more Spanish flags as these were mainly political or service providing premises such as hotels (figure 3a). The Spanish flag should be flown on a Spanish building and if that place is not meant to have a political view, then both flags would be outside of the building. Both flags were observed on hotels and tourist areas.  In some areas both flags of region and state were also seen, this shows loyalty to an area. For example, a bacelonetta flag seen in figure 3b

Figure 3: (A) Spanish flag being flown outside of the Military building in Las Ramblas. (B) Barcelonetta regional flag.

The street names were in Catalan with many commemorating people who have been influences from Catalan (figure 4a). The Sagrada Familia has taken a century to complete, still not being finished. The architect of the building is Antoni Gaudi; it is a statement of the Catalan culture and is the most visited place within Spain.  Throughout the streetscape we encountered political graffiti that was around the city voiced the political opinions of people within the community who wanted that message to be shown (figure 4b).

Figure 4: (A) street sign with dedication to a self-acclaimed Catalonian. (B) Graffiti that reads “Anti-Fascist Area”.

7.2.2 Monuments

Monuments play an important role in who society idealises as symbols of culture. Barcelona has many monuments that were observed to understand their political message for an independent Catalonia.

The plaza de Torro monumental is a bull fighting ring that existed in the 20th century. The building is influences by Islamic design replicating décor from the previous 8th century invasion from north Africa. The building today has been repurposed as a museum due to the recent ban from Catalonia in 2012 for bull fighting (The guardian 2011). This is extremely important as they had ended a 600-year-old tradition within Spain, stepping away from the culture.

The Universal exhibition was held in Barcelona in 1888. The triomf was to symbolise victory and national pride. The Arc links Barcelona’s medieval past with its future. Beyond the arc lies the park, with the Catalan parliament building residing within the parks grounds. The park has a Zoo and an elaborate fountain which at the time was put in place to show how advanced the people of Barcelona were. Like many other cities have done in the past, such as Paris.

The Main Cascada monument is a grand project that took place for the 1888 universal exposition and a small contributor to it was Antoni Gaudi. The grand waterfall features goddesses showing idealising women and sexism that existed at that time.  A band stand within the Cuitedella Park was dedicated in 1991 to a transgender teen who was killed. This emphasized the cities progressive attitudes to social problems. The Als Voluntaris Catalan statue in the Cuitedella park is dedicated to the volunteers of the first and second war. The monument was subject to violations during the Franco regime with its arms being cut off in 1952.

The internal flame (Fossar de les Moreres) was observed within in gothic quarter and is a contested symbolism, as it is seen to be site of the graveyard for the fallen during the siege of Barcelona in 1714. This site for Catalonians is a reminder of the homage. On the 11th of September (ladeada) people gather to this space to remember the battle. The symbolism is contested but it is used to further the nation building project.

7.2.3 Museum overview

To understand the historical narrative that was being projected upon the Catalan people, three institutions were visited to understand how they were representing the history of their culture. The first site visited was the Christopher Columbus statue. This statue was erected for the Universal expedition in Barcelona in 1888. Groups of anti-capitalist councillor in Barcelona however said that the city “should not be celebrating the explorers’ colonial legacy” (The Guardian 2016). The emphasises the Catalonians feelings toward colonialization and suppression.

The second Museum that was visited was the Catalan museum, the levelled institution has 3 floors which displayed a different time within Catalan history, from the bottom floor up it contained the history from the roman times to the top flow having recent achievements from the 21st century. An observation made was the fact that within the Catalan museum the paint on the walls were red and black, the colours of the anarchists. This may not have been intentional but could be a subliminal message as within the museum the Catalan culture was celebrated. Franco is not liked within the museum. From the semi, structured interviews conducted a worker of the museum stated that Spanish people will say that the museum is a lie, however the intended audience is the Catalan people and the international community. A museum worker was quoted in saying that the museum “celebrated” his heritage and that it has influence in the separatist movement.

Sympathetic language was used within the Catalan museum a phrase observed in the Franco dictatorship section said ‘the unmistakable aim of Francoism was to strip Catalonia of its nationhood’ strong language was focused upon within the museum. Descriptive words were mentioned in nearly every time that contained suppression of Catalonia’s identity. Another example of this read in the museum was “language was a slow and uneven process”. The Catalonian history is showing the notion of separatism by identifying themselves as different from the Spanish, A person at the museum was quoting in saying that the Spanish “believe that this is all made up” showing Spain’s undeniable unwillingness to accept Catalonia as a nation. Whereas museums are understood to be some of the key places that deliver the message of what a nation is (Ashworth et al 2007)

The el born centre showcases the streetscape within Barcelona during the 18th century. This streetscape represents Barcelona in a time when they had independence from Spain, the archaeologists could have kept excavating and gotten to a roman street. They stopped on purpose to give a utopian image of a time of independence when it was a vibrant multicultural marketing town. This gave the visualisation that there were greenspaces with music and food in the once internationally trading town. This is a clear political message of culture and heritage used at the El Borne (Breen at al 2016) It has been argued that the visitor of a museum will connect to the personal account of the narrative that is being told (Fladmark 2015). People had been quoted in saying that the centre had been “controversial”. An exhibition was spoken about that featured Franco and his dictatorship, the Exhibition was meant to last for a couple of months however it took the Catalan 4 days from when it started to have it removed. The hostility and want to forget the dark period of Franco’s dictatorship is evident in their actions.

The importance of these institutions is to promote culture. These centres could be understood to b a part of the nation-building narrative which are in line with the core set of grievances that are within Catalonia (Breen at al 2016)

7.2.4 Grievances

Catalonia has a key set of grievances towards the Spanish state shown in Figure 5. A few of these issues are going to be discussed.

Figure 5- grievance model visually showing the key set of grievances within Catalonia.

A key issue in the region is how the money that the state produce is used. Economically Catalonian has had historical grievances with the state, first starting with the Catalan bourgeois and modern industrialisation in the 19th century. Spain believe that Catalonia are “financial parasites” that don’t provide enough for Spain. Catalonia today has a fiscal deficit of 9.76%, this is highest taxed region in Europe. The people of Catalonia feel exploited as they cannot control their own funding when new services are needed within the state. Barcelona is the most visited region within Spain.

The media and television play a large part in left and right wing narratives. A nation state emphasize political views this way. Gellner stressed the importance of communication in societies, the power to control the media modifies culture and is necessary for the homogenisation of the state. (Gellner 1983)

Sport is an important cultural event for Catalan people. The Barcelona football club during Francoism was a representation of the Catalan nationalism and resistance against the dictatorship (Giberneau 2000) Sport is a powerful means of expressing identity (Trueta 2008). At the 17th minute and 14th second, the crowd will stand and shout ‘Independence’ as this date is representative of the last year they were an autonomous state.

Language is important when expressing culture and the use of a language can indicate your current feelings politically (Woolard 1984). The Catalan language as mentioned through the report has been supressed, driving the need for the language to be expressed and recognised internationally.

7.2.5 Survey results

A qualitative survey method was undertaken to test the hypothesis of will Catalonia resort to violence to gain independence. The results of the surveys are below (Table 1)

Table 1: Combined group results of qualitative survey.

Table 1: Combined group results of qualitative survey.

The results obtained from the combined groups matches those gathered from the Catalan government in their recent poll. With the representative sample size and closely comparable results the figures gathered are reliable. The survey was conducted in English however the fluency in Catalan and birthplace determined majorly their identity (Webber 1991) which would be closely linked with how they would feel about independence. The difference in percentage between the two opposing opinions (independence vs no independence) is not that high. The surprising figure is that of violence, with many key events happening in the last 12 months such as the arrest of Arthur Mas, change would be assumed. Triggers such as that would provoke a sense of undermining and this may increase the likely hood of violence. Historically within Catatonia has had such events. Figure 6 shows an ice berg model, which is a visual representation of some key events in Catalan history. From the results obtained the mediation stage was considered as the point of conflict Catalonia as both sides have not yet concluded what they want.

Figure 6: Key moments in recent Catalan history that has led to a rise in separatism within the state, key events are symbolled.  

5.2.6 Social Vulnerability Survey

These results are those obtained from quantitative surveys (figure 7). The total number of respondents was 139.

Figure 7: Social vulnerability pentagon, highlighting main worries.

The closer the result is to the centre the more of an issue they feel as though it is. With the survey showing that people are worried about the governance, environment and future threats gives an idea of the key grievances today. The economy is not a worrying factor as there has been on the rise since 2008 after the recession. The social aspects of life are not worrying factors in society.

In regards to the environment, water is not evenly dispersed across the region. The summer months also bring a lot of pollution as tourists leave litter, which was pointed out by a shop keeper during an interview.

5.3 Conclusion

To conclude, Catalonia has been experiencing separatism for many generations. The conflict so far within the state has remaining non-violent however this figure could change. The rise in percentage of people who believe violence will start echoes the increasing political tensions however 15% is not enough to accept the hypothesis stated as 85% do not believe there will be a need to resort to violence. The politicians are becoming impatient waiting on a referendum when other democratic places such as Scotland have been allowed to do so, with them not being allowed it feels as though the Franco influences have not yet disappeared. This is reflected on the social vulnerability results with governance scoring low.

5.4 Recommendations

The key recommendations for peace within the region are:

  1. Allowing the Catalan government, the ability to reinvest the budget which will help in improving infrastructure.
  2. The media needs to have an unbiased opinion.
  3. Fiscal deficit needs improved and there’s a lot of tension towards Spain and the uneven taxing
  4. Gentrification of city centre, leaving the city centre inhabitable by people who would be working in the city.
  5. To allow for an official referendum.


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