The much-anticipated referendum poll for independence was held in Scotland on September 18 and the people have finally given their verdict.
It’s a “no”.
A majority of Scots have decided that they do not want independence, much to the dismay of the YES campaigners who wished to put an end to Scotland’s 307-year-old political union with England.
However, there’s another community that lives miles away from the United Kingdom, that is disgruntled with the poll results.
Catalonia is an autonomous community – the richest and most highly industrialized region – within Spain that takes pride in its unique history, identity and language. It even has its own National Day on September 11.
Many Catalans, much like the pro-independence Scots, desire separate homeland from Spain – mainly due to the suppression they faced during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco’s from 1939 to his death in 1975.
In his bid to crush all regional cultures; Franco revoked Catalonia’s autonomy, repressed Catalan nationalism repressed and even restricted the use of their language.
The image below is a portrait of the dictator and the accompanying text reads, “If you are Spanish, speak in Spanish.”
It was only after Franco’s death that Catalonia got the chance to form its own parliament and executive with extensive autonomous powers.
Later, when Spain was hit by the world financial crisis in the late 2000s as well as the European sovereign debt crisis that followed, Catalans started to consider complete independence.
“Many Catalans believe the affluent region pays more to Madrid than it gets back, and blame much of Spain's debt crisis on the central government,” BBC states in its profile on Catalonia.
The Spanish government doesn’t support the idea of an independent Catalonia that is – as we mentioned above – the wealthiest community and is often referred to as the “regional engine for growth.” Just to put things into perspective, it has an economy as big as Portugal.
In the November 25, 2012 Catalan parliamentary election, parties supporting independence won a large majority of regional elections but it still wasn’t enough to push for a referendum from Spain.
When Scotland moved towards an independence poll this year, Catalan’ hopes for splitting were ignited once again. They drew inspiration from secessionist Scots and prepared for their own referendum , which is due on independence on Nov. 9.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched last week in the streets of Barcelona for the right to hold a referendum. Polls show about 80 percent of people in the region of 7.5 million want a say on secession.
Although the NO majority Scottish votes have dealt a blow to Catalan separatists, the result has not thrashed their aspirations.
"As a Catalan, I would have liked to have seen a 'yes' for independence, because it would have been a boost for us," said Jordi Prosa, a 54-year-old business administrator in Barcelona told Reuters.
Spanish leaders, meanwhile, are rejoicing.
"The Scottish have avoided serious economic, social and political consequences," said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
He was joined by opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who not only praised the result but said it held lessons for Spain:
"Scots have chosen self-government, the strengthening of their institutions and of their links with the United Kingdom, and that's the read-through that should be made in Spain."
Now that Scotland’s not seceding, the world waits to see what happens next with Catalonia. Following last week’s rallies, the Spanish government said on September 16 that it would use "the full force of the law" to block the vote for independence.
Just like the U.K., Spain isn’t letting Catalonia go anywhere.