KATHERINE GONG STAFF WRITER
On Oct. 31, Carles Puigdemont, president of the Catalan government, stated in a press conference that he would not seek asylum in Belgium. This potential threat against him comes in recent light of Catalonia’s attempt to seek independence from Spain. A region in the northeastern part of the country, the polls have shown that around 48.7% of Catalans support full independence whereas Spain’s Madrid-based government rejected an inaccurate referendum that stated that 90% of Catalans desired independence. However, both Spain and Catalonia will benefit more if a new understanding is reached, not independence.
Around 2.2 million people voted in favor of the referendum in 2014, which demonstrated Catalans’ long-held belief that the Spanish government takes much more than it gives. Trends have indicated that state funding to Catalonia have dropped, but this can be attributed to Spain’s 2008 economic crisis. Thus, as part of a compromise, the Madrid and Catalan governments must open discussions on possible constitutional reforms regarding economic support. Even Puigdemont stated that a “new understanding with the Spanish state” was preferred over a “traumatic break.”
As a result, Spain’s attempt to dismantle the Catalan government and hold regional elections only adds further political tension. This move will ripple through Catalonia’s influence in the communications, transportation, and public safety sectors of the country; instead, Spain should hold a conference with Puigdemont and the Catalan ministers to discuss diffusion of power and resources without resorting to full-scale measures from either party.