David Gilmour

Put Out More Flags?

Scots & Catalans: Union & Disunion


Yale University Press 339pp £20 order from our bookshop

In October 2017, the autonomous government of Catalonia held a referendum on independence from Spain despite the fact that the action was illegal under the 1978 constitution (which Catalans had voted for) and the statute of autonomy (which they had also supported). It was later declared unlawful by Spain’s Constitutional Tribunal. Following the referendum (which had a turnout of 43 per cent), the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, declared independence, an act which the Spanish government naturally refused to accept. Then, fearing arrest, he fled with several of his ministers to Brussels. Instead of being embarrassed by Puigdemont’s performance, his supporters erupted onto the streets of Barcelona demanding ‘liberty’ for Catalonia and an end to the ‘oppression’ of the Spanish state. For them, their leader and his fellow exiles were ‘martyrs’, while the Catalan ministers who had remained in Spain and were now under arrest were ‘political prisoners’. 

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