I’ve been generally skeptical about the benefits of a sovereign state for Catalunya, but I think there is a good chance of something major happening in the next year.
What the economic downturn in Spain has proven is that the system of autonomous communities is not a real devolution of powers, as long as Madrid can dictate the budgets that the autonomous communities have to abide by. Supposedly Catalunya runs its own health care and education, but then what the fuck is Madrid doing telling the communities how big their classes are and whether they can treat illegal immigrants or not.
Combine this with the feeling of powerlessness by being rules by a political party that has essentially no support in Catalunya, which is also run by the political heirs of Franco (like who’s brilliant idea was it to put bullfights on public TV again?), I can see why people here wonder about the benefits of being part of Spain.
Since referendums on independence are essentially illegal, Artur Mas has turned the snap election itself into a referendum on nationalism, which is at this point is a no-lose proposition from him. It’s likely that he could even get an absolute majority, which would make his job significantly easier.
So how does this end? When people talk about what the army might do, it’s not entirely flippant, since Catalunya has its own police force, who is going to take Artur Mas to jail for ignoring the Spanish Supreme Court? These are all mutually-assured-destruction scenarios, so I’m assuming that where things would end up with is some kind of federation model (and it’s not like Europe doesn’t have any other weird half-nation states like Monaco, Andorra, etc). However, the likelihood of a Spain run by the PP giving up fiscal control of Catalunya seems vanishingly small as well.
My feeling is that this is going to get much worse before it gets better. Of course, none of this solves any of the real economic problems that Spain is suffering from, and is unlikely to help anyone, but Catalunya wants spend its energy declaring its part of the deck of the Titanic as sovereign territory (no touching our deck chairs!), who am I to complain?