Between Autonomy and Secession: Where Next for Catalonia and Spain?

Paul Anderson

In recent years, secessionism has exploded onto the Catalan and Spanish political scenes. Currently, Spain finds itself embroiled in a constitutional quagmire in which one of its autonomous communities intends to declare a unilateral secession. In recent years, increased disillusionment with political elites, the quality of democracy and the constitutional process has resulted in growing support for territorial independence in Catalonia. In the area of constitutional politics, opinion polls reflect this sense of disillusionment. Dissatisfaction with the constitutional status-quo continues to grow, and currently more than 60 per cent of Catalans feel that Catalonia has an insufficient level of autonomy within the Spanish State. However, although opinion polls have registered growing disillusionment with the status-quo, this has not necessarily translated into support for independence, which has yet to surpass and remain steady above the 50% mark. The principal research question guiding this paper is: is there a feasible political solution that would keep Catalonia in Spain and satisfy both pro- and anti-independence parties? And would a renewed territorial settlement solve the current constitutional stalemate? Using a comparative analysis approach, it examines whether further constitutional change is possible and what this could look like. In addition, the paper will present primary data based on interviews carried out between February and May 2017. This data will be used to analyse whether there is support among the Catalan elites for further constitutional change and what this reform would entail. This paper, therefore, will shed new light on the ongoing debate on Spain's constitutional politics.

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