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Should Catalonia become independent?
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Catalonia has a right to self-government

Spain should recognize Catalonia's government and desire for self-determination. Spain should respect the results of Catalonia's 2014 non-official self-determination referendum and the 2017 independence referendum.

The Argument

Despite the Spanish government's insistence that a referendum needs more backing, polling suggests that up to 80% of Catalans want a formal referendum.[1] Although there is a high demand for an independence vote, the 2017 referendum was never officially recognized. In 2017 over 90% of those who voted, voted for independence. The Spanish government is denying the rights of the Catalan people to decide their government.[2] The government has no intention of opening a dialogue with the Catalan people but is instead trying to crush the independence movement completely. Those who support independence in Catalonia are made into scapegoats by Spanish politicians.[3] Under the UN charter for human rights, all people have the right to self-determination. By disallowing the vote in Catalonia, the Spanish government is infringing on this basic human right. The democratically elected leader of Catalonia and his senior party members have been arrested or had warrants put out for their arrest for holding a referendum vote. This behavior is undemocratic and authoritarian.[4] The jailing of separatist leaders has been condemned by the UN Working Group for arbitrary detentions. [5] Catalonia has the right to self-government, a right that is being infringed upon by the Spanish state.

Counter arguments

The referendum vote was illegal and went against the Spanish constitution. Holding the vote was irresponsible, and the tactics used to promote independence have been misleading.[6] The European Court of Human Rights decided against the pro-independence leaders who held the referendum and have thrown the case out because it was illegal. The Spanish judges had every right to override the decision.[7] Although all people do have the right to self-determination, many lawyers and legal experts in the human rights arena have argued that the Catalan people already have the required level of autonomy to fulfil this basic human right. Many devolved powers have already been given to Catalonia which satisfies the right to self-government. The right to self-determination is a principle that was meant to protect countries from colonialism and does not apply to ethnic groups within nations providing they are fairly represented. A historic ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court is often cited, in which the court found that the right to secede only applies in the case of colonial empires, the subjugation of peoples by alien powers, and in countries where the rights of independent groups are not recognized. Catalonia does not fall under any of these categories.[8] Catalonia's right to self-governance has been recognized. The 2017 referendum was illegal and unconstitutional.



[P1] There is strong support for an independence referendum in Catalonia. [P2] All people have the right the self-determination. [P3] Spain's repression of the separatist movement is unfair and undemocratic. [C] The Catalans wish to govern themselves and should be allowed to do so.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] The right to self-determination does not cover well-represented ethnic groups within nation-states. [Rejecting P3] The separatist leaders are undermining Spanish democracy by breaking the law.


This page was last edited on Monday, 2 Nov 2020 at 14:13 UTC

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