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January 12, 2023

The Political Spillover of Spain’s Unresolved Catalan Question

By Nicholas Lokker and Michael Angeloni

As Europe ushers in 2023, attention will soon turn to the most pivotal known unknowns of the year ahead. Spain, which will hold national parliamentary elections in December, is worth watching closely. In the European Union's fourth-largest country, the unresolved question of Catalan independence continues to drive political debate—despite its relative simmering since the explosive crisis of several years ago—and will be a major factor ahead of the elections.

Worryingly, there is a high probability that December's contest will only further entrench the pernicious influence of the Catalan issue on both Spanish and EU politics.The current relationship between Catalonia and the Spanish government was immeasurably shaped by the unsanctioned 2017 independence referendum.

If the right is in fact poised for victory, time may be running out for any more meaningful negotiations between Madrid and Barcelona. Yet forging a clear path forward is essential.

The movement that fuelled the referendum arose from years of perceived injustice committed by Madrid, including the overhaul of the region's 2006 Statute of Autonomy and continued clashes over taxation policy and Catalan linguistic rights. Over 90 percent of voters supported independence at the polls, though low turnout of around 43 percent cast doubt on claims of an overwhelming victory. In response, former prime minister Mariano Rajoy temporarily stripped Catalonia of its autonomous powers and dissolved the regional parliament.

Read the full article from EU Observer.

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