Even if Catalonia achieved independence after its referendum, experts on the issue said at a lecture Wednesday that corruption would be difficult to stamp out, making a stable democracy unlikely in the autonomous region.
Lecturers also said that Catalan referendum for independence — deemed illegal by Spain’s high court and a large part of the international community — was not a populist movement that many perceived it to be.
Visiting Prof. Itziar Rodríguez de Rivera, Spanish literature, a supporter of the Catalan independence movement, cited “economic, cultural and linguistic differences” between Catalonia and the rest of Spain as motivating elements of the effort to nationalize.
Detractors of the movement, most notably the Spanish central government based in Madrid, claim that Catalans do not possess the ability under the Spanish constitution to declare independence.
Rivera pointed out that while this vague constitutional stipulation is being used to justify the executive branch’s mobilizing of Spain’s police force to suppress the independence vote before it takes place, it is a judicial decision rather than an executive one.
“Shouldn’t this be something a judiciary board decides and not the executive branch?” she said.
Prof. Bécquer Seguín, Ph.D. ’17, Spanish, Johns Hopkins, stressed that although it is tempting to think of the independence movement as a populist cause rooted in the neglect displayed by the Spanish government, it is not that simple an interpretation.
Seguin argued that the independence movement’s apparent impatience with democratic procedures may lead people to assume it is a populist movement. But if it were a populist movement, he said, the independence movement would lose its effectiveness.
“The independence movement does not want to see a narrowing of the distance between representatives and citizens,” Seguin said.
Alvaro Guzman, a journalist at the Spanish publication CTXT, discussed how corruption in Catalonia might continue, even if the region gains the independence it currently seeks.
“It is important to remember the elites in place in Catalonia are as corrupt and rotten as those leading the Spanish government,” Guzman said.
Seguin also addressed how the economic condition would not necessarily improve.
“An independence movement is not a social redistributive program and it will not correct the economic ills of Catalonia,” he said.