Dear Burnet News Club members,
I’m Aoife, a journalism student at the University of Portsmouth. Thank you for inviting me to answer your questions on the Catalonia issue. It’s a pleasure for me to do it and I hope I can shed some light for you.
If Spain and Catalonia were to separate, what problems would be created?
From: D.sav | St Saviour's & St Olave's School
That’s a very good and interesting question D.Sav. I think you have to look at it a little bit like a divorce between the two countries. In the sense of you’d have to divide up the assets between Spain and Catalonia in a way both countries would be happy. The Catalonia region, which is in north-eastern Spain, is a tourist hotspot as you have Barcelona and Girona along that coast. As it’s such a big tourist trade and it’s helping the Spanish economy, Spain will probably want a proportion of that to keep their economy strong but Catalonia may want that for their own economy. Additionally, the people in Catalonia have paid taxes and contributed to their pensions through the Spanish government so there’s also the issue of what happens to that. Plus, the military defence system will have to be worked out and decided how that would be split so both countries would have a defence system.
There’s also the issue of how Catalonia will govern its country and who they’ll have as their head of state. They’ll probably have to write a new constitution or make slight alterations as they’re currently using Spain’s. Also, will they copy Australia in keeping the Spanish monarchy as their head of state in the same way Australia has kept Queen Elizabeth II, or will they choose to have a president?
Furthermore, there’s also the question of whether Catalonia will remain in the EU or will they have to reapply for membership. However, Spain could cause problems for the process.
In your opinion do you think Catalonia will eventually leave Spain or will the government stop them?
From: Unigirl G | Rockliffe Manor Primary School
To be honest, I don’t know. It’s quite difficult question to consider as there are lots of factors to consider and at the moment the independence seems very unlikely. Catalonia’s input to the Spanish economy is quite large so the government is likely to make it extremely hard for them to leave. For example, if we think back to the referendum Catalonia held back in October last year, the Spanish government declared the vote illegal and therefore invalid. Showing that Spain isn’t ready for a separation.
I think the movement for independence in Catalonia is very strong and the stronger it gets, the more pressure it puts on Spain to address the issue. Ultimately, I feel that if it were to happen it would be on Spain’s terms and would ultimately benefit them.
"Overall, I feel the impact Catalonia wanted to have and the voice it wanted heard was belittled by the Spanish Government declaring the vote illegal."
Aoife Morgan, Journalism student
Does the rest of Spain just want money?
From: candycookiexxx | Boutcher Primary School
Probably. Everything nowadays always comes down to money and with Catalonia being an economic heartland for Spain, Spain could face a high loss of income. There’s a strong tourist trade among the north-eastern coast with Barcelona, Girona, and Costa Brava so a lot of money is entering the economy via Catalonia. As well as the tourist trade, there’s money coming from exports, manufacturing, and industry. With the separation of the country, Spain has to consider the economic loss it would be facing and this could be a strong motivator for Spain to want to keep the country as one.
Additionally, with a loss of income in the economy, the Spanish government won’t be able to invest as much money into the country’s infrastructure and services. Meaning that the separation doesn’t just impact the government and economy but also the Spanish citizens and their quality of life.
But before the impact of what happens after, we also have to consider the impact of what happens during the separation. This can be a lengthy process for both parties and cost a lot of money. Both parties will have to figure out how they will split their assets, meaning it will cost them in both the short term and long term.
What is your overall opinion on the Catalonian vote?
From: -JoJoSays- | Michael Faraday School
I think the Catalonian vote was very significant in terms of seeing what the people of Catalonia want. After all, a vote is there to show what people want and I think the answer was quite clear as 92% of the vote was for independence. Having said that, less that 50% of registered voters voted and as the vote was on something so big I would have expected a bigger turnout such as the 72% turnout for Brexit. And I think this showed a split between the Catalonian people; those who felt strongly about gaining independence and those who were maybe less bothered by it. Having said that, the conflict around the polling stations could have put people off voting.
Overall, I feel the impact Catalonia wanted to have and the voice it wanted heard was belittled by the Spanish Government declaring the vote illegal. In other words, I don’t think the vote helped Catalonia progress forward with the Spanish government but it did create a strong awareness of them wanting independence in other countries around the world and this has put additional pressure on Spain to address it and sort out a solution. I agree with Carles Puidemont, the head of Catalonia’s government, when he said, “We have earned the right to be listened to, respected and recognised.”