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Crimes and Recriminations in Catalonia

Who Is at Fault in Spain’s Catalan Crisis?

A pro-independence demonstrator outside the National Police headquarters in Barcelona, October 2019 Sergio Perez / Reuters

The fate of Catalonia has consumed Spanish politics for the last two years. In 2017, separatist leaders organized a controversial independence referendum over the objections of the Spanish Supreme Court. Just this past October, that court sentenced several Catalan leaders to long prison sentences and separatists took to the streets of Barcelona to protest. The unrest has since died down, but the secessionist movement behind it lives on. Now, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has decided to form a new government with the support of ERC, a pro-independence Catalan party in the Spanish Parliament. ERC’s lawmakers will likely use this newfound influence to put their cause on the agenda once again. 

Will the separatists be able to extract meaningful concessions from the central government? In a thought-provoking recent article for Foreign Affairs (“A Way Out of Spain’s Catalan Crisis”), Laia Balcells answers in the negative. Madrid, she argues,

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