Do you want Catalonia to be a State? If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent State?

Today there are only six days left until I vote in the independence referendum. I usually use my personal blog for non technical bits but I thought some readers of my KDE Blog might be interested in this as it does affect the geopolitics of pretty much the whole world.

What's going on?

Three hundred years ago Catalunya was an independent country trading its way through the world under the monarchs of Aragon with the capital in Barcelona. Then they ran out of kings and picked the Austrians to supply the next monarch. But they didn't even have time to check the map and realise Austria was nowhere near before the Spanish invaded and took over. Since then monarchs were disposed, dictatorships came and went, the Catalan language was suppressed (sometimes more sometimes less), the Catalan government was kicked out, Catalunya grew an impressive amount of industry and the rest of Spain based much of their economy on tourism and constructing blocks of flats for the tourists. Then 2008 happened and Spain suffered The Crisis when the construction based economy stopped overnight and the country had to be bailed out by the Germans.

Hang on, I've read this somewhere before

Regular readers may recognise some similarities to a blog post I wrote a couple of months ago. There's a lot which is the same between Scotland and Catalunya but also a lot which is different.

What happened in Scotland?

In Scotland the polls looked like it could well go for Yes. The London politicians panicked and made a front page article with The Vow on it which said they'd give Scotland lots of new political powers, keep the funding formula for Scotland which is generally beneficial and please please don't leave. A daily stream of scare stories came out: the oil was about to run out, the supermarkets would raise prices, the banks would leave and you're too small and too wee. The day after the referendum with 45% voting for yes and 55% for no and relieved David Cameron mopped the sweat from his brow and announced he'd be taking away the power of Scottish MPs to vote on English matters, not something anyone had mentioned before and something which damages Scotland because all the English votes affect the Scottish budget, plus it just makes the UK government setup even more weird because you can end up with a government who don't have a majority on many issues.

There are UK elections next year and there is a real danger that the current right wing Conservative party will get back in and call a referendum on EU membership causing Scotland to leave the EU against its will and the economy to be largely destroyed.

So what's going on in Catalunya

Catalunya (English: Catalonia, Spanish: Cataluña) is in the north east of Spain and depending on who you ask is either a nation or a region. It has its own language, Catalan, which sounds a bit like a faster Spanish with some French thrown in. After the 2008 financial crisis in Spain there is now 25% unemployment (50% for the under 30s) and life is hard. There has grown a very strong and rapid growth in the movement for political independence for Catalunya since then. Unlike in Scotland this isn't led by the politicians but by hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, see the photo above with the people in Barcelona making a Catalan flag all through the middle of Barcelona. The Catalan politicians have caught up and have called a referendum on independence with two questions "Do you want Catalonia to be a State? If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent State?".

Except the Madrid government took the Catalan government to court and had it declared illegal because it might threaten the existence of the Spanish realm. So the Catalan government changed it into a non-binding consultation. Which Madrid then had declared illegal too. The Madrid controlled riot police started to gather outside Barcelona. So now the Catalan government is having a voluntary poll using no civil servants but instead a large team of volunteers to help out. This may also be illegal but it seems too late to stop it and who knows what all those riot police are doing there, it may get interesting.

Why would you vote Si?

The way the debate ended up in Scotland the most important reason to vote yes was for a government which reflected the opinions of people in Scotland. There are different political wishes in Scotland on topics like university tuition fees, private running of the health service, nuclear weapons and invading countries at random. The second most important reason was the money, there were endless debates about whether Scotland was richer or poorer than the rest of the UK and how much of a difference the oil made with not much agreement by the end. The least important reason was national identity, it's nice to wear a kilt and drink irn bru but it's not necessarily a good reason to define your political borders.

In Catalunya the reasons seem to be reversed in priority.

The most important reason when I ask people is always national identity. They want to speak their own language, make large towers of people and not have any bull fights. They genuinely have suffered repression under years of dictatorship with Franco when they were forbidden from speaking Catalan. This only ended in the mid-70s, since then there has been a pact of forgetting. While Spanish investigators have helped various South American countries find the graves of their disappeared and prosecute people who took part in war crimes as part of a dictatorship here in Spain they are only just beginning to dig up graves of those killed by Francoistas and even then with massive resistance from the right wing political parties. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for crimes under the dictatorship and records in Madrid are kept firmly locked down. A TV documentary looking into mass graves was shown on Catalan TV but banned from Spanish TV. There is still a giant mausoleum near Madrid where Franco's body lies and each year hundreds of fascist supporters go to salute it. Who's want to be part of a country like that? But on the other hand the Catalan government has plenty of freedom now to speak whatever language they like and everyone here is bi-lingual so it's unclear what problem gets solved.

There's a lot more certainty that Catalan is the richest part of Spain and they contribute a lot more to Madrid than they get back in taxes. Like in Scotland the Catalan government has minimal powers to raise taxes, everything goes to Madrid who then decide what to give back. This level of money leaving Catalunya through taxes does grate especially since the crisis and the people here feel they are subsidising all the Andaluthians who only work three months a year and claim benefits for the rest. All the infrastructure like motorways and high-speed railways are built to benefit Madrid and to take resources away from Barcelona. Given independence, I've been told, the Catalans can use the extra money saved to build schools and hospitals. But this means taking away schools and hospitals from the rest of Spain which isn't terribly pleasant to do.

Political policy differences was the most important reason in Scotland but hardly seems to feature in Catalunya. In their independence white paper is hardly features at all with all the space being taken up by process. Both Catalan and Spanish governments are right of centre political parties. When I've asked the only differences people can come up with are a desire not to have a monarch and wanting to ban bull fighting. But the head of state is a superficial position and bull fighting is already banned.

What to vote?

So I've no idea what to vote, I'm not sure national identity or taking away schools from poor little Andaluthians is a good reason to vote Si. But on the other hand a Yes vote would help Scottish independence and it would make a government which was closer to the people who voted it but still united under a bigger European Union.

In this two question poll there's the middle option of Si No but nobody knows what it means to be a state but not an independent state.

In the end it's unlikely to matter, the vote will result in a Si vote but Madrid will point out it was mostly those who wanted Si who voted and the silent majority didn't bother for this hastily organised voluntary questionaire. (This silent majority is personified by a naked lady with her finger over her mouth in a curious display of the state of feminism in Spain and what feels l like another reason to vote SiSi).

Answers on a postcard please.



I don't know what do you mean by «Answers on a postcard please.» so I'll leave a comment here.

I'll not comment what you said to tell if It's true or not. I just want to say that I'll vote Sí/Sí (Yes/Yes) because I'm Catalan. That's all.

It's not about the money (but it could be) or anything else, is just because I'm Catalan. We have our own language, our holidays, our things.

I don't hate Spaniards. I have a lot of friends from Spain! And we are good friends. We [Catalans] just want to have our own state to decide what is better for us, what we need!

Do you know what I feel when I read something my father, my mother has written? They don't know how to write in their own language, at school they only learned how to write spanish.

I'll not extend this because I just wanted to say what I was going to vote and I don't want to turn this into political flamewars.


By Anonymous Valencian at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:29


First of all i apologize about my bad english.

Why do you mix History with software development? Do you think all kde developers/users have the same idea about the poll in Catalonia?

Anyway, if you want to do it ( something i think is really wrong) please, read a little bit of History before speaking about this issue.

"Three hundred years ago Catalunya was an independent country trading its way through the world under the monarchs of Aragon with the capital in Barcelona."

Since XV century Calatonia is part of Spain, when the crowns of Castilla and Aragon joined in a marriage. Catalonia was part of the reign of Aragon, so it went part of Spain. I has it's own laws (fueros) .

Three Centuries ago happened the Sucesion war in Spain: There were to people who wanted to be the king of Spain; One from the Austria's Crown (as the previous kings since Carlos V) ; and the other from the Borbon Crown (from France). The previous was the chossen for the majority of Catalonia but lost the war. Spain did not invaded Catalonia, was the contender from the Borbon Crown.

So Catalonia wasn't a kingdom like Scotland. Please, read about it.

Thanks a lot,

P.S.: I hope for the sake of freedom you publish this post.

By Miguel at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:46

Some catalanian people don't want independency but they are being forced to say yes.

By Raul Castell at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:48

Excuse me, but I think you are talking about something you do not know well.
I'm from Spain, but I don't live in Catalunya; however, I support the independence of Catalunya, if they want so.
But some of your historical statement are incorrect, and catalonians are not the only people/regions in Spain who have suffered dictatorships (many countries in the world have had) , a lot of money was invested in Catalunya by the Spanish state while other regions were abandoned.
So if they can go alone, I think is allrlight, but they are not "the victims", or at least, not the only ones.

By Dah65 at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 13:37

I'm sorry, but you don't know nothing about Spanish history. Catalonia never, an I said never, was an idenpendent state. The kingdom was Aragón, and Catalonia was a part of it. In the Middle Ages, there was some kindongs in the Iberian peninsulae, but Catalonia wasn one of them.
I guess that you have the Spanish nationaliy, cause otherwise I don't know why you can vote for the independence of a foreign country, in another foreign country.
Best Regards, and better continue with KDE... :))

By Javier Benítez at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 14:26

Being born Czechoslovakian, I have a few words:

  • You will be worse off in the end. Not because of material riches as they are fleeting, but because smaller nations have smaller clout and always will fare worse for that.
  • That said, once there is significant number of people unhappy with current state of affairs, there is no helping. Peaceful seccesion is better then… alternatives.
  • That said again, those unhappy people should look carefuly whether they are not used as political vehicle. There are always local politicians who would prefer to be biggest fish in smaller pond. I can't stress enough importance of this, there are too many people who can profit. Whatever could establishment lose, somebody else will gain – you should be vary of lies from both.
  • Then again, you will meet with your former brethen in EU anyway, so not that much harm done one way or other.
  • And again, if Czechoslovakia is any example, you will find yourselves in Brussels standing back-to-back, bound as natural allies. Which could either make you proud of your newly found importance, or just tired of pointlessness of whole excercise.
  • Who's want to be part of a country like that? That is a one bad question. If you believe you can get rid of fools by establishing a border, you are in for a harsh wakeup. Fools are everywhere and getting locked up in smaller space does not make them any less bearable.

By Hynek at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 14:37

This post is full of lies. It is just a mix of fictional facts with oversimplification written by someone who does not at all understand the problem (and not even tried to understand it, but still feels he can teach the rest of the world about it). Seriously, it is an offense for anyone that is able to open a book.

" subsidising all the Andaluthians who only work three months a year and claim benefits for the rest": Who the hell do you think you are? Why the hell do you think you can insult millions of people just like that? Do you know there are plenty of KDE users in Andalusia, and you have just insulted them without having a single clue of what you are talking about?

"the madrid government": Seriously? " the madrid government"? That does not even exists!!! What the hell is "the madrid government"???. Just with these 3 words I know exactly where you learnt what you just shared with the world.

This post IS COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO KDE. You are entitled to your own opinion (even if you like to state "your opinion" as a fact). but this is When you post something on, you are representing KDE. You should think about that, or stop posting in planet.kde.

Please, remove this post from planet.kde and move it to your personal blog. I am sorry, but political opinions are unrelated to KDE

Rest of the world: Please, ignore this post, it is truly full of fictional facts.

By wthell at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 15:07

Three hundred years ago Catalunya was an independent country > False, Crown of Aragon is not Catalonia. In 1714-1715 a Spanish civil war (borbonicos vs austracistas) ended.

Catalunya grew an impressive amount of industry and the rest of Spain based much of their economy on tourism and constructing blocks of flats for the tourists > False, Catalonia is the first tourist destination in Spain and Construction is (or was) one of the main economic sectors. Basque Country, Navarra and La Rioja are more industrialized (30-40% of total workers) than Catalonia (similar to Madrid) and there are industries in the other regions/nations (Andalucia, Galicia, Valencia,...).

Spain suffered The Crisis when the construction based economy stopped overnight and the country had to be bailed out by the Germans > Almost true but Catalonia suffered The Crisis too. It has a large internal debt (region/nation most indebted of Spain: ).

By Samuel at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 15:11

I think having more small and diverse countries is a good thing. An independent Catalonia would be able to better determine its own affairs into the future and hopefully avoid situations like what occurred under Franco. As part of the European Union it would still retain the benefits of freedom of movement, trade, and defense. I say go for it.

By Jason at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 15:18

Long story short: catalonians love money, they exist or stay where the money is. They should vote because they love Spain. Catalans are as corrupt as the spaniards (I believe we will find the genome causing this one day). Catalonian politics are racist as Franco´s, it is awkward you cannot run a business using Spanish in Catalonia. Most catalans are as ignorant as most spaniards, although they believe they are intelectually superior than the other spaniards. Catalonian procedures to preserve their culture will isolate them, they have a precious language and culture that alone is meaningless and will die one day.

Europe is not muslim thanks to the Kingdom of Spain, Europe is not french thanks one day the people of Madrid showed the continent that Napoleon was not invincible, at the same time the people from Barcelona was happy with the enemy, the basques did nothing at all. Europe is not Nazi thanks to the Allies. Big entities that did big at their time and faced history, the Kingdom of Aragon and the Kingdom of Scotland where part of compelling empires from the past, no matter they separate from us, this is their history too.

We Europeans and Americans have a western culture, that culture should be our country. We should fight for a real democracy, not the lies in which we live right now, at a point in time in which the west as a whole is in the risk to become the dinner of China, a powerful country of slaves.

Do you want to be a slave? you must be big in order to defend your values.

Catalans were probably happy when the Kingdom of Spain was the richest and most powerful kingdom of the world, so were the basques. Agreed, Franco sucks and Spain should have the balls to repair all that pain. At the same time Franco and the democratic post-Franco Spain gave all the resources at will for the industry in these regions to flourish, so the Catalans have to thank Franco and place him as the industrializer of their economies.

The truth is that the politicians of the region of Catalonia had been poisoning the minds of their children in order to align them to their separatist ideals, for years, probably the same occurred in Scotland and you are part of an engine driving someone else plans, we tribal human beings are little entities after all, it happens everywhere, 1% of the population dominates the other 99% no matter you are from the Scotch, British, European, Spanish or USA tribe. The people from other Spanish regions that find its way into Catalonia becomes assimilated in order to not be mobbed, they adopt the language and sometime replace its culture entirely betraying their roots, many come from Andalusia. And many independent catalans come from direct andalucian roots.

Catalans at the same time are very hardworking people, and they are as ignorant or cultivated as the average spaniard out there, tough they collectively believe they are superior than the rest of the Spanish people.

It doesnt matter if you are a little monkey in Spain or in the UK or in Scotland or in Catalonia. You want to be independent because that is what you learnt from your poisoned environment.

Europe should blend and become one country, one same direction, or otherwise still be the international clown it is. Latin America must do the same.

By Jamón, one blen... at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 15:19