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Should Catalonia become independent?
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Catalonia should respect Spanish sovereignty

Spain is a sovereign nation. Though Catalonia can exercise a level of regional autonomy, Spain's constitution and laws should be respected.
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The Argument

The Catalan separatists embarked on a dangerous illegal bid for independence in the 2017 referendum. On the back of an illegal vote with a minority turnout, Carles Puigdemont declared himself president of an independent nation. This behavior amounts to a dangerous and anti-democratic act of rebellion, in a region where the majority are still against independence.[1] The refusal to respect the constitution undermines Spanish sovereignty under international law. The European Court of Human Rights sided with the Spanish government because the respect for the integrity of the law is vital in a democracy. The Spanish constitution at present guarantees regional autonomy but declares that the sovereignty of the state belongs to the Spanish people as a whole.[2] The Spanish government cannot legally grant the right to secede without consulting the rest of Spain. The right to secede would only apply in this case if the state were oppressing Catalonia. Still, the region is one of the most autonomous regions in the world, and Spain is one of the most democratic countries in the world. The separatists' claims that the situation in Catalonia is dangerously similar to Kosovo are nonsensical as Kosovo experienced high levels of violence and ethnic cleansing.[3] If Spain were to allow a small group of extremist separatists to break away from Spain, it would risk similar actions by other groups, such as the Basques and the Galicians. Balkanising Spain would cause chaos and negatively affect the general population of Spain. The Spanish constitution exists to protect all Spaniards and must be respected.[4] Separatists are resorting to illegal actions that undermine Spanish sovereignty in a state which already respects their autonomy. Breaking up Spain would be chaotic and undesirable by a majority in Spain.

Counter arguments

Spain's constitutional guarantee of sovereignty also guarantees the distribution of power to semi-autonomous communities in Spain. The 2017 referendum withdrew the rights of Catalonia. Many commentators have pointed to the implementation of Article 155, the so-called nuclear option which withdrew regional powers from Catalonia as an authoritarian overreaction to the issue of Catalan independence. The implementation of the ruling temporarily placed the institutions of state back in the hands of the central government and paralyzed Catalonia. [5] Spain's reaction to the illegal referendum has ironically given Catalonia legal grounds to make a bid for independence as Spain has attempted to punish Catalonia as a group, just as it did under Franco.[6] Many argue that if Catalans had not enacted an illegal referendum, they would never have had one at all, as the Spanish government has no intention of listening to the separatists and granting them a legal vote. The Spanish central government's reaction to a bid for independence has been to throw Catalan leaders in jail. Catalonia is asking for a dialogue, but Spain does not want to negotiate.[7] Madrid has proved it is willing to be authoritarian in its dealings with Catalonia. The separatists are trying to get their voices heard.



[P1] As a democratic state Spanish sovereignty is guaranteed by both Spanish and international law. [P2] The separatists are undermining democracy and only represent a small group of extremists. [P3] Allowing independence would create a dangerous precedence for the breakaway of small extremist groups. [C] Spain should not give in to the demands of the separatists and must uphold the rule of the Spanish people.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] Distinct regions of Spain also have rights, which were withdrawn using article 155. [P2] Spain will not allow a democratic solution which has led to extreme measures by separatists.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020 at 10:21 UTC

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