As voters headed to the polls on September 27, separatist proclaimed that the roadmap to an independent Catalonia has come to fruition. In fears of seeing a possible separation, the Madrid government is now in turmoil, even calling on the Bishop of Valencia to organize a day of prayer for an “indivisible and free” Spain.
Catalonia is already a self-governed autonomous region, but the separatist coalition claims that instances of discrimination still exist, even focusing their campaign and political platform on such allegations. The suppression of the Catalan language, customs and regional symbols, as well as the economic exploitation of the region, are the primary reasons why the Together for Yes coalition seeks a breakaway from Spain.
Last Sunday’s election was historic in the sense that it marked the first victory for a coalition whose sole political platform is independence. Detractors however point towards the ‘big tent’ nature of the union, predicting the collapse of a coalition of parties from diverse political backgrounds, ranging from the left-wing to the center-right on the spectrum. Political scientist Josep Ramoneda believes that
“sooner or later, the differences will start to show. Eighteen months could be enough to destroy this government.”
With a narrow victory of just 36.4% of the votes, critics believe the separatists’ celebration was premature. A tumultuous road, with many challenges, now lies ahead for those seeking an independent Catalonia. After their narrow victory, Together for Yes had to make a number of concessions.
In addition to their main objective of independence, the coalition has expanded their platform to appeal to a wider electorate. Creating an emergency social aid program for the poor and dealing with an ever-increasing income inequality are now equally important issues as the aspirations for an independent Catalonia.
The coalition is pushing for a referendum on independence in 2017. But the Madrid government and opposition leaders argue that ideals for independence fall short when the Catalan population is still divided on the issue. Many also point towards the Scottish precedent in 2014, when despite the hype and campaign promises, the public narrowly voted against separation from the United Kingdom.
But for those aspiring for independence hopes remain that nationalist sentiments will prevail against all odds. Mas has reassured voters that all compromises will be reached through negotiations.
“We cannot have not come this far to ruin it all now,”
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