Monday, May 29, 2023
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Clemente Polo

​Babylon fell because it lacked foundations

Professor of Fundamentals of Economic Analysis in Autonomous University of Barcelona

There were good reasons to think that Catalonia could not be constituted as an independent state in the form of a republic, however many times that the slight majority of secessionist members of parliament in the Parliament -72 of 135 representing 47.7% of voters- passed unconstitutional resolutions and laws to initiate the constituent process, and however many times that the government of the Generalitat endeavoured to declare the Catalonian republic constituted, no-one knows whether symbolically or actually, after celebrating an illegal consultation clandestinely and treacherously (1st October), in which nobody knows either who voted or how many times. It will be difficult to erase from the image of the government of the Generalitat and the members of parliament of the Parlament bypassing the Constitution and the Statute that legitimized them and at the same time pretending to give "legitimate" results.

Banderas espau00f1ola catalana

The first cause of the failure of the secessionism attempt was that, in the absence of overwhelming social support, the all-or-nothing attempt on the State has ended up awakening the silent majority that had remained between anesthetized and frightened during the last decades. The power granted to the Government of Catalonia to control the public sector budgets in Catalonia, practically without interference from the State, allowed the leaders of the Government, Provincial Councils and City Councils to deploy their networks in society and exercise an almost omnipotent control over the means of communication (press, radio and television), school syllabuses and textbooks, university governing bodies, trade union organisations, professional associations, cultural and educational associations, and so on.


The almost unlimited capacity to provide high-paying jobs and facilitate access to grants and contracts were the mechanisms used by the Generalitat to buy previously free wills and simultaneously marginalise whatever general public, company or association that showed lukewarmness or hindered their sovereignist intentions. 

The situation began to change on September 30th, when the silent and suffering majority broke their silence with a loud cry of enough! and went out to vindicate constitutional oRoSr and hold the coup plotters accountable. 

Hopefully, this change will have an impact on the 21st Decemebr elections.

The second reason for the Generalitat's failure is the nationalist leaders' arrogance, this type of imposed supremacism that spurs them on and ends up making them believe that the sun revolves round them, when in reality Catalonia is quite a small entity: 7.4 million inhabitants that generate 1.5% of EU GDP. Leaving aside the droll yarns attributed to the Catalonian genius from the inception of democracy to the discovery of America, passing through the authorship of Don Quixote, the truth is that the secessionist leaders expected that the EU would force the Spanish government to sit down to negotiate the conditions of independence, as soon as they declare it. 

Any person with elementary knowledge knows that the EU is a collection of treaties -in which the functions and rules by which each institution is governed has been thoroughly established- and could have predicted that the EU would never accept the illegal secession of a Member State region. And so it was. 

The leaders of the Parliament, the Council and the Commission forcefully rejected it, and not a single Member State leader has made the slightest gesture of complicity. 

Upset and disgruntled, the secessionist leaders also engaged in denigrating the European institutions in Belgium.


The third cause of the failure of the exit operation is the strong economic dependence of Catalonia on the rest of Spain (ROS) and the rest of the EU (ROE). The rise of the Catalonian economy during the last three centuries is explained by the access of its merchants and companies to the Spanish market (including the colonies) where they sold their manufactured goods and industrial products, a market protected by prohibitions and tariffs until the start-up of the Single Market in 1992. 

Although trade has diversified considerably since then, and Catalonia exports goods and services to both the ROS and the ROE, the dependency situation has not fundamentally changed. In the case of secession, Catalonia would be excluded from the EU and the corresponding treaties would cease to apply from that moment on, and its exports to its two main markets could register quite severe falls. In other words, today the Catalonian economy is not viable outside the EU, particularly given that many of the companies based in Catalonia that invest, produce and export are EU companies.

Catalonia is currently in a critical condition. The growing political instability and legal insecurity that has been accumulating since the 27th September elections culminated at the beginning of October and triggered the mass exodus of almost 3,000 companies, including the main financial and insurance entities as well as non-financial companies. Tourism has suffered and the latest affiliation to the SS and registered unemployment statistics have not been good either. 

As if all this were not enough, Catalonia has an oversized public administration and has accumulated 72,532.3 million Euros debt with the Central Administration since 2012. 

A record of poor management that threatens the well-being of Catalonians who I recommend not to be deceived by the siren songs of the endless trip to utopia and pay heed to the "soleá" (flamenco song) of Pepe the Matrona -two of whose verses head this article, because, as Babylon did, perhaps Catalonia sank because it lacked foundations.



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