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Spain’s Catalan nationalists win big in regional elections

The Spanish region of Catalonia has a long history of separatism, and the recent parliamentary elections there are bringing it closer to total independence from Spain.

Two pro-independence parties, Together for Yes (39.6%, 62 seats) and Popular Unity Candidacy (8.2%, 10 seats) now hold 72 of the 135 seats in the Catalan regional parliament, four over the 68 needed to claim a majority, according to the BBC.

Before the previous election (in 2012) the Catalan parliament passed a resolution affirming “the right of the people of Catalonia to be able to freely and democratically determine their collective future through a referendum”, according to the Guardian.

“You have a portion of the population that views themselves as something other than strictly Spanish,” said Mrs. Kim Wright, AP Spanish teacher and moderator of the World Affairs Club. “All of Spain is made up of independent sections that came together in the 1500s… some of the areas were later in joining Spain than others, Catalonia was one of the latest to join.”

“The fact that they have their own language as opposed to a dialect, so they have always viewed themselves as a sub-population of Spain in general,” Wright said. “There are Catalans that view themselves as Catalan first and Spanish second.”

The secession debate has also led to the raising of economic concerns were Catalonia to break away from Spain, as Catalonia accounts for one fifth of Spain’s economic output. The president of the Spanish central bank has also stated that Catalan banks would be cut off from the European Central Bank, according to the Telegraph.

“It’s more of an economic concern than anything else,” Wright said.

“[Spain’s] unemployment rate is 22.2%,” said Mr. John Ostick, AP Economics teacher. “That is around the same amount of unemployment that we had in the United States in 1933 [during the Great Depression.”

“If you’re unemployed … it means social problems,” Ostick said. “Unemployment is more than an economic [problem], it’s a socio-economic problem.”

Ostick remarked, “The people are in economic unrest, the people that are pro-pulling away from Spain are saying ‘the economy’s not helping us, we’re unemployed, we could be better off by ourselves.”

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