Immediately after the Scottish referendum, we the Catalan people will issue a decree calling for our own vote – and we demand that Madrid respect it
My city, Barcelona, is a good test case of what economic and political innovation look like – an example to the rest of the world, as we grapple with globalisation, mass migration and prolonged economic instability. Barcelona has suffered the lows of both political repression and abject recession. Today, it offers inspiration as a nascent world city.
The 1992 Olympic Games helped transform Barcelona’s infrastructure, reinforcing the city’s historic role as a trading and manufacturing hub. Hosting the Olympics also made the world aware of Barcelona, and thus, through sport, many millions of people got to know our culture, values and identity. After long periods of weak public finances, the city’s budget now operates on zero deficit without raising taxes. It is my job to ensure that the city’s government enables its entrepreneurs and businesses to flourish. We know there is no social progress without economic progress.
Barcelona’s region, Catalonia, is also on a political journey, reflecting its history but above all the aspirations of its citizens. Catalonia suffered under the dictatorship, which ended in 1975. The Catalan language was banned. Today, Catalans have clearly and repeatedly expressed – peacefully – their desire to vote on Catalonia’s independence.
In the last elections to the Catalan parliament, 70% of Catalans supported parties that seek a referendum on Catalonia’s future status. Millions have joined massive peaceful, civic and democratic demonstrations to demand the right to decide our future. You can expect millions to take to the streets again today – Catalonia’s national day.
Our wishes in Catalonia must be respected, just as the UK government has respected those of Scotland. But the government in Madrid, unlike the one in London, has simply dismissed our aspirations, refusing to discuss how they might be addressed. Immediately after Scotland has voted in its referendum, Catalonia’s president will sign a decree calling for our own vote, on 9 November. Like Scotland’s, our process will be peaceful, democratic and legal, respecting the rights of the Catalan people to express their views at the ballot box.
If Catalonia becomes independent, it will be a new kind of state: European, open for trade, cosmopolitan and welcoming and protective of its many diverse inhabitants, including the millions of people from around the world who have come in recent decades. This is not old-fashioned “nationalism”, but a new vision of dynamic autonomy, in which a nation and its capital are able to take the right decisions for themselves: democracy on a human scale.
It is wrong, and divisive, to oppose this vision. The world does not stand still, and neither do countries or cities. We must all evolve, to respond to a changing world but above all to meet the needs of people for economic security and prosperity and the democratic right to govern themselves as they – the people – see fit. Barcelona and Catalonia exemplify this approach.
via the guardian