Romanian Responses to the Catalan Crisis
In this article, we focus on the latest events in Spain. Namely, we are interested in finding out Romanians' perceptions and attitudes towards the Catalan crisis. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform <a href="http://www.questia.ro"target="_blank"> www.questia.ro covering 500 respondents, with a plus or minus 4% margin of error. The survey was active between 31 October and 2nd of November 2017. Our findings are presented below.
Many articles have been written and many television and social media debates have happened since the so-called “Catalan crisis”. However, this crisis is not a novelty, at least for the Spanish and Catalan people and their political institutions. Out of the numerous opinions on this issue, <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-mariano-rajoy-eu-needs-a-smarter-response-to-the-catalonia-crisis/"target=" _blank">Richard Youngs’ perspective sheds light onto the next steps and puts into context what will happen in Spain and the European Union from now on.
Before analyzing his perspective, it is worth mentioning that the ‘Catalan movement’ started to shape since 2010, <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/catalonia-referendum/541611/"target=" _blank">when Spain’s Constitutional Court issued a landmark ruling. At issue was the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, a law passed by the legislature in the autonomous Spanish community, that was then approved by Spain’s parliament and later ratified in a referendum by Catalan voters. The court deliberated for the next four years: <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/catalonia-referendum/541611/"target=" _blank">Of the statute’s 223 articles, the court struck down 14 and curtailed another 27. Among other things, the ruling struck down attempts to place the distinctive Catalan language above Spanish in the region; ruled as unconstitutional regional powers over courts and judges; and said: “The interpretation of the references to ‘Catalonia as a nation’ and to ‘the national reality of Catalonia’ in the preamble of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia has no legal effect.” As <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/16490065"target=" _blank">The Economist noted, the rewriting of Catalonia's controversial autonomy charter ordered by Spain's constitutional court on June 28th was surprisingly light-handed. This sparked massive protests throughout the region that continue each year on 11th of September, the National Day of Catalonia.
Following the events that unfolded the 1st of October 2017 independence referendum, that was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, the Catalan crisis lurched into a new phase. According to the results, 92.0% voted for the independence of Catalonia, however, the voter turnout was only 43.0%. The Spanish police used force against many civilians and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/catalan-referendum-police-clashes-violence-900-injured-government-independence-vote-banned-latest-a7978166.html"target=" _blank"> almost 900 people were injured in the clashes.
In the past few days, the Spanish government appears to have gained the upper hand against Catalonia’s reckless and now-imploding secessionist faction, calling for elections in December. Richard Youngs suggest that whatever the outcome of December’s election, <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-mariano-rajoy-eu-needs-a-smarter-response-to-the-catalonia-crisis/"target=" _blank"> Madrid’s actions could still intensify hostility and frustrations in the region, deepening the discontent among many Catalans and dragging this conflict out for years to come. He says that if the EU fails to help defuse tensions in Spain, voters across the bloc could, quite rightly, lose faith in its grand rhetoric about the importance of looking beyond the nation-state. If they see the EU as little more than a defender of incumbent governments, it will be no surprise they turn to anti-establishment parties to make their voices heard. One solution would be for the EU to devise something it might call an <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-mariano-rajoy-eu-needs-a-smarter-response-to-the-catalonia-crisis/"target=" _blank"> “autonomous member territory,” and to grant it at least some of the rights, representation, and capacities that member countries have in Brussels. Acknowledging Catalonia in this way would elevate its status at the EU table, without independence.
Next, we wanted to see Romanians' awareness to this issue, as well as their position in regard to the crisis.
The majority of the respondents (83.6%) have heard about the so-called “Catalan crisis”, and only a few (16.9%) said they are not up to date on this issue.
Most respondents know about the events that unfolded the 1st of October referendum from TV. Many Romanian news channels have aired live from Barcelona, as the events occurred. Also, many debates regarding the future of Spain have been addressed. Another source of information is the internet (blogs, news sites, and social media) and some are up to date from the radio or the written press. Relatives/friends played a little role to the awareness, even though it is estimated that <a href="http://www.gandul.info/international/harta-romanilor-plecati-in-strainatate-topul-tarilor-ue-in-care-romanii-reprezinta-cea-mai-mare-comunitate-14926732"target=" _blank"> almost 728.252 Romanians currently live and work in Spain.
The protest movements in Barcelona and other cities from the region ranked as the most known information regarding the Catalan crisis. Next, the Catalan independence referendum, as well as the Parliament’s declaration of independence from Spain are the most known information correlated to this issue. Only a few are up to date on the early elections that will be held in December and some are aware that Madrid has now the upper hand on the situation.
Regarding the attitudes towards this crisis, most respondents consider that the crisis will further deepen the conflicts in Spain and the EU, while only some think that the crisis will give Catalans the financial political and cultural independence they need. As highlighted above, both Spain and the EU have a great role in solving this issue, each actor at its own level. The polarization of the Catalan society, together with the political crisis shows that the political actors, both at the national and at the EU level, should find more creative and functional institutions, beyond the legal ones.
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