Catalonia's 'Unrequited Love' For Caledonia

by
staff
Voters in Spain's Catalonia region have given a majority to parties seeking Catalan independence - but Catalan President Artur Mas, who called the early election and pushed for independence, lost seats.

Catalonia's 'Unrequited Love' For Caledonia

Voters in Spain's Catalonia region have given a majority to parties seeking Catalan independence - but Catalan President Artur Mas, who called the early election and pushed for independence, lost seats.

Mr Mas went into these elections trying to become a Catalan version of the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

He asked Catalans to give him an SNP-style single-party majority to help him push for a referendum on independence.

But Mr Mas failed in his attempt to emulate his Caledonian counterpart's trick of winning a majority from within government at a time of recession.

Whereas the cause of Scottish independence is still very much associated with Mr Salmond and the SNP, in Catalonia support for an independent state is spread across a number of parties with significant support in parliament.

After Mr Mas called these snap elections to get a mandate for a referendum, parties who fought on an explicitly independentista ticket now make have a majority in Barcelona, with nearly two-thirds calling for a referendum to resolve the issue.

But that doesn't mean a vote is any closer to happening.

When Mr Salmond and UK Prime Minister David Cameron signed the so-called Edinburgh Agreement - giving legal powers to Scotland to hold a vote - both men made a lot of the clause that said both governments would work in the interests of the people of Scotland and respect the result of the 2014 poll.
Making enemies

But when asked by a visiting reporter from Barcelona to comment on the Catalan independence debate, Mr Salmond declined.

That's because while David Cameron - like successive previous inhabitants of Number 10 - has agreed that Scotland's place in the union is a question for the Scottish people, there is no such agreement in Spain.

The conservative government in Madrid - and their socialist opponents - have both said that any vote on independence would be against the Spanish constitution and, as such, illegal.

When the Edinburgh Agreement was signed, Artur Mas wrote to Messrs Salmond and Cameron to congratulate them, and held up this reasonable, British gentleman's agreement as an example for Spain to follow.

But there's no sign that Mr Cameron's opposite number in Madrid, Mariano Rajoy, has any intention of doing so.

After Mas failed to get his single party mandate and lost seats, his party's spokesperson immediately said that Mas's attempt to get a personal mandate for an independence vote had failed.

While Catalan nationalists look enviously on Scotland, where a referendum has already been secured, the relationship is something of an unrequited love affair.

While Alex Salmond looks on 'with interest' at events in Barcelona, he will have no intention of making enemies in the Spanish capital before any talks on Scotland's place in Europe if things go his way in 2014.