Spain: Catalan show of strength
12 September 2012
La Vanguardia, El Periódico de Catalunya, El País, ABC
"Catalans say basta," headlines Spanish daily La Vanguardia following the record turn-out in Barcelona for the Diada, the annual Catalan independence rally. Attendance is estimated at between 600,000 and 1.5 million people. Brandishing the slogan: "Catalonia, the newest State in Europe", the demonstrators launched a "new challenge" to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who will now have to –
... find a cure for Catalonia's woes. [For their part,] the Regional government and its president, Artur Mas will have to manage the consequences of this mobilisation [...] and make their positions clear regarding sovereignty and independence.
In fact, on September 20, Rajoy and Mas are scheduled to meet in Madrid to discuss the Catalan fiscal pact, meant to allow Catalonia greater autonomy in matters of taxation. This is a thorny issue, as recalls Catalan daily El Periódico –
... the role of Catalonia in Span's political and institutional framework remains historically unresolved. And it will not be solved as long as it is not understood that Catalonia wants to be respected to the same extent as it aspires to truly participate in steering Spain. It does not want privileges – nor injustice. [...] Should the latter occur, the challenge caused by the bubbling of the independence movement will be more painful. And, in the end, much more uncertain.
For Madrid daily El País the reasons for this high turn-out are –
A fundamental political change, combined with: a deep-rooted unease at the ruling of the Constitutional Court which frustrated expectations regarding the improvement of autonomous government; the crisis which breaks the economic momentum; and the [ruling] Popular Party's new strategy to recentralise. The unease is widespread and the CiU [the nationalists running the Catalonia Region] are taking advantage of it to shift attention away from cuts in social services as well as from its responsibility for the Catalonian debt.
But according to conservative daily ABC Catalan nationalism is relieved to have identified the federal State as "the guilty party" and to have found in independence "a fictional solution" –
Three decades of nationalist policies [...], total immersion of Catalan society in the nationalist diktat and a degree of self-government that goes beyond the most extreme federalism are not sufficient arguments to prove the permanent nationalist lie that holds that Spain is responsible for all ills. Today's deceit is called the fiscal pact. Previously, it was the new statue [for the region].