The Catalan Crisis, One Year Later

Can the Deadlock Over Independence Be Resolved?

Spanish unionist protestors march in support of a speech given by Spainish King Felipe, in Barcelona, October 2018.  Albert Gea / REUTERS

It was a year ago this month that Catalans voted to break away from Spain and create the Republic of Catalonia. Although 90 percent of those who participated in the referendum endorsed independence, only the Catalan government and those who voted in favor of it took the results seriously. Madrid declared the referendum illegal, based on a ruling from the Constitutional Court, while the European Union and the rest of the international community, including the United States, ignored the results. Most important, perhaps, the bulk of those opposed to Catalan independence boycotted the vote, effectively denying the referendum any legitimacy. These setbacks did not deter Catalan separatists from declaring independence a few weeks after the vote, on October 28, prompting Madrid to revoke Catalonia’s autonomy statute, prosecute those who authorized the referendum, and order new elections in the region.

Despite the advent of new political leadership in Barcelona and Madrid, Catalonia

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