Wikistrat Report: Catalonia’s Prospects for Independence

Wikistrat - Catalonia Prospects for Independence cover

Separatist parties in Catalonia have promised to start the process of breaking away from Spain if they win a majority of the seats in the September 27 election. With polls showing between 40 and 50 percent of Catalans in favor of independence, the prospect of Spain’s most prosperous region going its own way has never seemed more plausible.

Earlier this year, Wikistrat asked its analysts to imagine what the repercussions of Catalan secession would be and how a new state might fit in Europe. They identified some benefits of independence, such as respect for Catalan culture and language, but at least in the short term, the economic arguments seem to work against seceding from Spain.

Catalonia is Spain’s most indebted region. Independence would raise its borrowing costs and could be accompanied by a massive capital outflow. Given that secession is unlikely to be cordial and negotiated, one of an independent Catalonia’s first acts could be defaulting on its €64 billion debt.

The Catalans could also have difficulty joining the EU and NATO. They don’t have armed forces to contribute to the Atlantic alliance, and existing EU member states – fearful of a “Balkanization” of Europe – would see the break-up of Spain as an unwelcome distraction from the crises in Greece and Ukraine.

And yet, Wikistrat’s Dr. Ainslie Noble argues that with support for both separatist and anti-establishment parties in Catalonia so high, the status quo seems unsustainable. Even if a majority decides against independence later this month or next month, many find the present state of autonomy no longer sufficient.

Click here or on the cover image to download the full PDF report.

Dr. Ainslie Noble is an educator and Wikistrat analyst with a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She specializes in Basque and Catalan nationalism and is the author of Memory, Identity and Violence: Comparing Contemporary Catalonia and the Basque Country in France and Spain.

For more information about Wikistrat and for access to the full simulation archive, contact [email protected]

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