The road to independence: understanding the Catalan conflict

What is Catalonia?

Catalunya, or Catalonia, is a nation, home to the Catalans. It is currently an autonomous community under the Kingdom of Spain. Home to 7.5 million people, and with a GDP of 204 billion Euros, it is comparable in size to European countries such as Finland or Denmark.

Over the last few years the Catalan independence movement has grown strong, not only in the streets where pacific pro-independence demonstrations have reached two million people for several years, but also in the institutions where a 62% independentist majority has been the driving force of the institutional push for independence.

In this article, I will try to set a foundation for understanding the power dynamics that started the conflict, so one can follow the current discussions, as well as giving some inside perspective on how the last few weeks have developed.

No economics in the title

The Catalonian Referendum and the Struggle of Democracy

No one putting a foot in Barcelona can get away from Catalan culture. No one can skip the “calçots -with their sauce, please-”, la “sardana”, the “Castells” and the many other things that differentiate Catalonia from the rest of Spain. Yet, no one that goes to Galicia could miss Galician, or miss a “Queimada”. No one going to Andalusia could miss the different accent, nor the “feria de Abril”, or the “migas de la alpujarra.” Evidently there is no such thing as a homogeneous Spanish culture. As Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the opposition, said just a few weeks ago, it is a “nation of nations.” Though this might be disputed by many, no one can deny that Spain is formed by regions, or autonomous communities, as is stated in the constitution. These regions have their own voice in education and public health, some even have their own regional police (Mossos or the ertzaintza) and many have substantial control over tax revenues. Yet these regional powers are not universal and vary considerably. Certainly, there are a number of regions that match the Oxford Dictionary definition of nationhood: “A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.” No one that knows about the Iberian history could rightfully deny this, though of course some of them will.

No economics in the title

Are indigenous people’s livelihoods and conservation compatible?

In the early 1960’s, many environmental protection NGOs started to promote conservation of ecosystems all over the globe. Greenpeace’s first stated mission is to “protect biodiversity in all its forms”. For WWF its principal objective is to “conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.” Conservation and climate change have become an important part of the international discussion.


Through the looking glass (aka the Atlantic Ocean)

In Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), the day-dreamer Alice wonders what it is like to live on the other side of a mirror’s reflection. The novel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) recounts the protagonist’s surreal adventures, which follows a pattern parallel to that of the story’s prequel: the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, and uses changes of size as a plot device; while the second one is based on the rules of a game of chess and uses distortions in time and spatial directions as plot devices. This article is about a different type of Wonderland though: Trump’s United States, and its new foreign policy…

No economics in the title

Monnaies locales : Pour une économie plus humaine Le Sol Violette à Toulouse

La monnaie est définie dans le dictionnaire comme une « pièce de métal frappée par l’autorité souveraine pour servir à la mesure des valeurs, aux échanges, à l’épargne ». Lorsqu’on prête attention au mot « valeurs » contenu dans cette définition, on s’aperçoit que ce mot reflète deux aspects qui ne sont pas toujours forcément liés : la valeur économique des produits sur le marché et les valeurs qui font partie de nos convictions morales et guident nos décisions en tant qu’individus sociaux.

French Corner

TSE’s new Behavioural Team: Taking classroom skills into the real world

We have all seen it: Someone asks what you study and you see their eyes glaze over in boredom, as you try to convince them that economics is cool. For most non-economists, the subject is just a bunch of numbers, equations, and spreadsheets with some fuzzy link to business, profits, bankers, and other evil things. They never seem to understand that, at its heart, economics is about how society works — and ultimately how we human beings work.