Living to see it happen

While putting together a post on the situation in Catalunya, I saw one graph which was particularly striking. Click the image for a larger version.


It shows the levels of support for four different constitutional arrangements for Catalunya: no autonomy, the status quo as an autonomous community, being part of a federal Spain, and independence ... plus the don't knows and won't says at the bottom.

In November 2005, support for independence as shown by the green line stood at 12.9%. Now, less than seven years later, it has become the most popular of the four options with support for it standing at 34.0%.

Here in Wales, support for independence stood at 11% in both 2010 and 2011. Not so very different from the degree of support for Catalan independence in 2005, and at the sort of level where those of us who want an independent Wales would be told in no uncertain terms that we'd never live to see it happen.

If support for independence can grow so rapidly from such a low base in Catalunya, it could grow as rapidly in Wales.

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Anonymous said...

There is one important catch. Catalunya is one of the more affluent parts of Spain and would probably make a good fist of independence by leaving poorer regions such as Extremadura, Andalucia and Galicia behind.

Anonymous said...

As the first commenter says, the reason for the rapid support for independence in Catalunya is because as a region it is the economic powerhouse of Spain. Its is no surprise that support has risen since 2005 when the credit crunch broke and the cracks in Spain's economic policy began to become apparent. There is a similar trend in the North of Italy, the economically stronger part of Italy -- the Northern League has long agitated for some form of independence.

As for Wales, forget it. As long as we are at the bottom of just about every economic indicator in the UK it will never happen. And can you honestly say with your hand on your heart that Leanne's economic policies will make us even a little bit richer?

Anonymous said...

Er, hasn't it been the "economic powerhouse" of Spain for the last 50 years? And how about the cracks in the UK economy with far more debt and a draconian austerity/privatisation pogromme?

maen_tramgwydd said...

I take a longer view of history. Nothing lasts for ever. The rationale for the UK, or 'Greater England' has been and is diminishing. It's a fragile entity. The arguments for retaining the Union (as put forward by Darling et al) are mainly negative. The constant attacks on Salmond and the SNP, the jubilee, the Olympics, England's Euro 2012 hype, are signs of just how fragile things are perceived to be.

The Union hasn't and isn't working for Wales, which is getting ever poorer relatively. The next step for the anglo-centric Tories is regional pay, benefits and pensions, which will confirm Wales' true status even to the thickest of Labour skulls this side of Offa's Dyke.

With such regional differentiation the rationale for retaining the unequal Union will diminish further. The timescale of the break-up is well nigh impossible to calculate, but no more than twenty or twenty five years at the outside.

Further austerity, which is inevitable, plus more revelations about the moral, political and financial incompetence and corruption in London could hasten the process.

The Joker in the Pack is Scotland's referendum. Whatever the outcome, which I think will be close, the Scots have laid down a marker that they are deeply unhappy about the status quo. Given the 70% of them who want fundamental change, then it's bound to come about in one form or another. I suspect the Tories (and many in Labour) might prefer Scotland's exit to the alternative of fundamental constitutional reform which a federal solution would entail.

I've never visited Spain, and am unable to comment on the independence movements there, and how they might, or might not, affect what happens here.

Anon 08:54

".. we are at the bottom of just about every economic indicator in the UK..."

How long will the people of Wales tolerate being the bottom of the pile? Labour was given an unexpected kick in the backside by the voters in Scotland. The same can happen here. Plaid's failure was the result of uninspiring and poor leadership, coupled with the strategic error of entering a coalition with Labour as a very junior partner. The party is paying the price for that today. Leanne isn't to blame. Potentially she's the best leader since Wigley, but she's stuck with a small handful of third rate AMs who want to repeat the mistakes made by IWJ.

The national movement in Wales has lost momentum, for which it must take responsibility. That does not change the direction which history is taking us, whether we like it or not. It's a shame that Plaid isn't in the driving seat to secure the best for Wales and its people, and that, at present, we have to await developments elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Not sure of MH's arguments this morning, but I would be the first to congratulate him on his invaluable ongoing coverage of Catalunya and Euskadi.

MH said...

I didn't intend this post to be any more than an indication of how quickly public opinion can change. I only started to take an interest in Catalunya in 2009, as a result of the unofficial independence referendum at Arenys de Munt. So it was a surprise to me to see that only four years earlier support for independence had been at a level just about equal to that in Wales.

In more immediate terms, I hope this will encourage those of us wanting to see an independent Scotland. At present, the polls don't look good for a Yes vote, but this graph shows that they can change dramatically before Autumn 2014.

Anonymous said...

MH - thanks for this. It's also good to keep an eye on these sites too:

The biggest difference are obviously the Catalan economy is central to the Spanish State - Wales is totally irrelevant (except water - which Labour opted out of the Govt of Wales Act 2006 to make sure we have no control over!).

The other difference is language. The British state's policy of eliminating or at best margianlising the Welsh language has succeeded. It's created a political culture which is mostly defined by British norms. The Catalan langugae is much much stronger and so creates a political space to discuss ideas outside the Spanish norm.

I think you're right to say the call for independence could go up in Wales ... but I can't see it happening soon at all.

If we get independence then it'll be the Belarus scenario - forced into it whilst retaining the same political class which harks back to the Great Patriotic War (WW2), class jingoism and fear of the indigenous language.


Anonymous said...

There are other aspects to Catalan nationalism as well particularly Franco's rule and the statute of autonomy they attained after his death. Wales has had a completely different history, even accepting the obvious points about economics. Catalonia's economic prowess was also at least partly attained under Spanish rule.

Anonymous said...

It's also misleading to discuss "Leanne's economic policies" (what, you mean, Plaid's?) in such a negative way. Wales' economy has been largely governed by the Tories and Labour. Despite some well-meaning people being involved (Peter Walker) nobody has ever managed to fulfil the Welsh economy's potential, and a significant slice of our population are still affected by the decline of heavy industry under Labour and then Thatcher.

Anonymous said...

Quiet night for Catalunya last night - just the one goal and three assists.

Anonymous said...

"There is a similar trend in the North of Italy, the economically stronger part of Italy -- the Northern League has long agitated for some form of independence."

I don't agree that this constitutes a similar trend to Catalonia. The Northern League has only ever advocated regionalism within Italy. An offshoot of the League wanted independence for Padana but it was not any kind of mass movement or electoral proposition. Catalonia is different because it is a nation. With that said it has had movements wanting regionalism or more autonomy in Spain, but also clear national independence movements as well.

There has to be an examination of what stages of autonomy short of independence would help Wales. Because at the moment there is hardly any autonomy for Wales at all. Even legislation is too narrow, and financially there is virtually non-existent autonomy. It beggars belief that Westminster could still overrule the Assembly or even abolish it, and the Welsh Government is basically treated as a Whitehall department. We can't even raise a levy on plastic bags for our own coffers, it has to go to charities.

It may well be there is a halfway house to independence that would command majority support. But it would be wrong to consider the current devolution settlement as being there. Devolution at the moment is more like a quarter of the way to independence than half the way. There is some measure of control over public services but that's all.

Anonymous said...

Also, both times that Catalonia has been declared independent in the past, in 1931 and 1934, was as part of an Iberian Federation, and later under ERC's Lluis Companys (later executed by fascist Spain to whom he was turned over by the Vichy French) as a Catalan State within a wider Spanish Federal Republic. Any development of independence in Wales has to also give a firm view of how the rest of the island ought to be organised. Scotland is starting to do this in terms of its monetary union with the rUK. But even in a monetary union Scotland will still have achieved the right to no longer be overruled or abolished by Westminster. We must redistribute sovereignty across this island.

Anonymous said...

So what I want to ask (sorry for extra comment) is would people accept a Britannic Confederation, as Gwynfor Evans proposed? Does anyone know what the detail of his actual proposal was?

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Sadly Wales is more Galicia than Catalunya :(

maen_tramgwydd said...


Alex Salmond's address to the Commonwealth Club of California is worth listening to. The link to the podcast is in the upper right hand corner:

Anonymous said...

The Basques pretty much stuck to manufacturing and never lost their industrial base like Wales did. They have diversified and have a strong native industrial sector based on exports, strongly co-operative as well.

It is crazy to think of it. Their companies manufacture wind turbines, and rolling stock.

Great Reuters piece (slightly romanticised) here (and of course Spanish socialist unionists currently in power there)-

Also have to point out they aren't formally an independent state, although to all intents and purposes the main centrist Basque nationalist party has given up pursuing independence and focusses on self-government. The Basque nationalist left is now ahead in the opinion polls. Now that the armed struggle is over it could well happen, but with full economic powers they're already making a good show of things.

Eric Roberts said...

I must say that I fail to see any fragility in the United Kingdom. I don't see any sign of any change on the horizon. Welsh people are firmly for the Union, as was demonstrated by all those street parties. As I suspect you know, even most members of Plaid Cymru are against independence, just wanting "yr hen wlad" to get a bit of attention.

You seem impressed by the 34% in Catalunya. I'm not. It's a long way short of a majority, and I don't see any political change on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

Is Euskadi the place to watch in 2013? The following relates to a poll which puts the two main nationalist parties in the driving seat.

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