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Spain’s Catalan Crisis / Catalonia’s Spanish Crisis – Lecture by Dr Andrew Dowling at Cardiff University, 18.10.17

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In light of recent developments in Catalonia that have grabbed international attentions, this lecture was convened by Cardiff University’s Catalan specialist, Dr Andrew Dowling, in order to enlighten us on the subject. It was recognized that the audience was comprised of people with a mixture of knowledge on Catalonia and its crisis. The lecture was aimed to appeal to the different strands therein, with enough basic knowledge on the background of the situation to allow for understanding of the deeper layers of the composition of this global political event.   Andrew started off by revealing that the turning point and key date in the development of this crisis is the Global Economic crisis of 2008. This had a profound impact on European societies. It affected the internal dynamics of Spain and its semi-federal system. As the independence movement grew, class conflicts declined. The Catalan secession became a major crisis to the Spanish government. Catalonia was the epicenter. There is a profound psychological need to protect one’s own. Identity and the National identity comes to the forefront of people’s thinking. What was the Spanish state and the situation in Catalonia like before 2008? Catalonia in essence was the role model for a successful devolution. It had spent 120 years of consolidating its autonomy. In Spain, in other regions where nationalist separatist thinking had been prevalent, there was calm The Basque country was in a post-violent scenario. However, in the approach to 2008, Catalan society became less content. Challenger political parties began to emerge. In the late 1990s salaries for the middle classes started to stagnate. Throughout Spain there was a new generation of voters and the principal political parties – both Nationalist and Social Democrats, struggled to get the backing of new voters. The Partido Popular (PP), the Spanish Conservatives, reigned in Spain between 1996-2004 and had a policy of increased centralization, thus reducing the power of the regions’ autonomy. The periphery was controlled by the centre and this led to a Catalan existential crisis. There has been political Catalanism since the 1880s. Within the Catalan political class there was a renewal of Catalan politics. Between 2003 and 2006 there was a reform of the Regional government system. There was two sides of the divide: asymmetrical regionalism against increased centralisation. The PP and its allies mobilised against any moves from the regions that might lead to the breakup of Spain. It…

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