The future of Catalonia: Spanish youth have their say
Translation by:Maria-Christina Doulami
The results of the regional elections in Catalonia showed a clear victory for the independence movement, although the Junts per Sí alliance itself fell short of an absolute majority. However, these elections have been seen as a victory for the Catalan independence movement. How have young Spaniards perceived these results?
Ariadna Corbí, 23 (Barcelona)
The results of the Catalan elections demonstrate something undeniable. The independence movement has received a clear majority and, for the first time in the whole campaign, supporters of the union cannot speak of a "silent majority" which has so far fuelled their argument. The Catalan people have expressed their opinion democratically, and the independence movement has obtained the parliamentary majority it needed to move ahead. It did not receive the majority of votes, but there have been more than 1,900,000 people who have supported it and they cannot be ignored. Keep in mind as well that among the rest of the electorate, not everyone is in favor of maintaining the current situation. Many of them have supported candidates who, although they are not separatists, grant their support to the right to decide. For this reason I believe that the Spanish Government is now obliged to listen to these people and allow for an official referendum. Only when we ask clearly whether or not people want an independent Catalonia, can we avoid wading through multiple interpretations of the idea and know exactly what the Catalan people want. It is high time we realised that the problem is not going to go away, and the Spanish Government will not have many more opportunities to deal with it.
Sara Sánchez, 24 (Salamanca)
As in all the previous elections, the vote has given power to the party that supports independence. Because Catalonia has never been defined by right-wing politics, this is no surprise. But the reality is that they have not even received the support of half of the electorate and this makes me think that in reality it has not been such a triumph for the independence movement. I live in another part of the country and have rarely heard anything against the current situation amongst my friends and family; in fact, it seems to me that this is beginning to look like a political battle, "to see who is the strongest". Moreover, while money is spent on campaigns for or against independence or a referendum, social policies and welfare aid, both in Catalonia and elsewhere, have been neglected. I think that politicians should employ their efforts on the real issues: relating to its citizens, as well as policies to improve coexistence with the rest of the country. As for those who support independence in an extreme way, I would say that we need to stop thinking about hating each other, and consider instead how beautiful it is to have broad cultural and linguistic representation in a single country.
Alex Raga, 24 (Valencia)
The question of the day is if the plebiscite logic has really been imposed. In the absence of detailed post-election data, it appears that the left-right axis has been almost entirely replaced by an axis for or against the independence movement, to the point where in the traditional socialist "red belt" stronghold of Barcelona, we have seen the rise of Ciudadanos (a more centre-right party). As a young leftist, this fact – together with the resulting electoral disappointment of Catalunya Sí que es Pot (the left alliance that includes Podemos) – worries me, because social issues are virtually missing in this political landscape. As for the future of the "national question", it is desirable (and it seems inevitable) that negotiations take place between the Spanish and the Catalan governments to offer a solution that takes into account all positions surrounding the issue of the independence of Catalonia.
Aitor Sodupe, 19 years old (Vitoria - Basque country)
I think, looking at the results, that it has been an unnecessary expense to have carried out early elections. For my part, I agree with what Ciudadanos say in Catalonia, which is that the parties should not join together to form a “tripartite” (a coalition government consisting of three different parties), considering what happened a few years ago (in 2006). I understand the position of those who want independence and for the government to do something about it, because almost half the population of Catalonia is in favor, so a negotiation is necessary. Thus, I think the next general election will be decisive and will see a simliar result to this one: several parties will need to come together to form a government.
Silvia Sánchez, 24 years old (Teruel - Aragona)
Catalan society has demonstrated to be clearly divided into two blocks in this election, but you cannot ignore the wider background; most Catalans have at some point expressed their desire to separate from Spain. Nevertheless, I believe that Spain is rich in diversity and this is what makes it so special. We all have unique traditions, our own history, even linguistic differences; it's not just in Catalonia. I think that the message of the pro-independence politicians has permeated deep into people's minds in this regard... I consider myself a democrat and as such, I think it's great that they have expressed their opinion. Now we must ask, do the Catalans really know what consequences they will have to face if they gain their independence? Who will benefit? Do they really want a new country ruled by Arturo Mas (leader of Junts pel Sí)? The solution in my view is for there to be a long negotiation. The central government must work towards a dialogue and the Catalan government may have to be more humble, rather than "reinventing" itself and looking to their own past, at the expense of the history of others, for political purposes. It is possible to reach an agreement with which we are all happy without the need to separate from Spain.
Translated from Jóvenes españoles: En Cataluña, ¿ahora qué?