The resignation of Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland leaves the Catalan independence movement without its main European reference | Catalonia | The USA Print

The Catalan president Pere Aragonès has made a trip to Ireland this week to meet with some leaders of Sinn Féin. The Catalan independence movement is used to looking up at the British Isles to look for references in addressing the “political conflict” with the State. In the compass that marks the passage to the Catalan independence faith, Scotland has always had a prominent place. The Scottish referendum of 2014 has been used as recurring proof that it is possible to submit the independence of a part of a country’s territory to the ballot box. The United Kingdom has ruled, politically and judicially, that this cannot be repeated and the fight raised by Nicola Sturgeon has resulted in her resignation as Scottish chief minister. With this movement, the Catalan independence movement has been orphaned of its main political reference in Europe.

“I believe I have led this country closer to independence, and I believe we are in the final phase of that journey,” Sturgeon said ten days ago in his farewell speech. He did not specify, but how should this walk towards independence be culminated, since his intentions have been cut short by slamming the doors of the British government and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Conservative Government has made it clear that it will not give Edinburgh permission to hold a consultation like the one nine years ago and, last November, the judges responded with a refusal to the Scottish requirement to determine whether the autonomous Parliament may be competent to approve the law calling for the referendum. The plan of the leader of the SNP (Scottish National Party) runs aground in a dead end.

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“The main element to explain Sturgeon’s resignation is more a political issue than a personal one, because he has seen how he ran out of the way to organize a second referendum,” reasons Dani Cetrà, a political scientist from the University of Barcelona and a PhD in Political Sociology from the University of Edinburgh. Cetrà, who during the decade he lived in Scotland worked for the Center on Constitutional Change, points to the crossroads of Scottish independence. “His plan of his has always tried to find negotiated and legal routes, and when Sturgeon has realized that the path is not passable, he leaves it,” he summarizes. The academic, who now lives in Catalonia, glimpses coincidences with the Catalan case. “The parallelism is clear, what can you do when you have a mandate that drives you to call a referendum but institutionally you have no path?” He asks himself.

The Scottish model has served as a regular handle for the Catalan pro-independence parties. “What we have seen in Scotland is the right path to follow,” said Artur Mas in 2014, when the machinery of the process I was starting to put the turbo on. In March 2017, half a year before 1-O, Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras wrote an article in EL PAÍS pointing out that Scotland was an example to follow. “The Scottish scenario of an agreed referendum is what we would like in Catalonia,” said the then president and vice president of the Generalitat. Last summer, Puigdemont stated that he had no doubts that the British government would “respect” the right of the Scots to decide their future. Reactions to Sturgeon’s resignation have been quieter. “Your leadership will continue to be an inspiration”, Pere Aragonès limited himself to saying.

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After the double veto of Parliament and the judiciary, the Scottish leader tried to embrace a penultimate maneuver of fleeing forward. She raised turning the next UK general election, scheduled for the end of 2024, into an independence referendum. de facto. The plan creaked within the ranks of the SNP.

Diego Muro is a senior research associate at CIDOB (Barcelona Center for International Affairs) and a tenured professor in international relations at the University of St Andrews. “It is extremely complex to interpret an election as a plebiscite. Interpretation can be forced, as was done in Catalonia, but people vote for many reasons, from inflation and unemployment to the type of relationship they want with Europe. When a ruler wins an election, we can never be sure if he wins because of his qualities or because of the antipathy that the alternative generates”, considers Muro. Dani Cetrà thinks something similar: “In Catalonia we are well aware of the difficulties involved in reading the votes that a party has in terms of votes in favor of independence.”

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Diego Muro maintains that “the SNP is left without clear and viable options to request a second referendum”, and considers that this has been a weighty factor in Sturgeon’s goodbye. This scenario fuels the question of whether Scottish separatism can take the direct path and be tempted to promote the idea of ​​a unilateral path. “They have always rejected that option,” says Muro. “Scotland has learned things from the Catalan case and knows that the unilateral route does not work, because if the vote is boycotted by supporters of not breaking with the State, the result loses strength and legitimacy before the international community”, explains Dani Cetrà.

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In their March 2017 article, Puigdemont and Junqueras applauded the waist of the London government for having allowed a consultation for Scottish sovereignty and, despite the fact that the no vote had won with 55% support, the two Catalan politicians announced that it was game to play: “everything seems to indicate that Scotland and the United Kingdom will once again agree to hold a new independence referendum. The second in three years. It is not bad for something that in Spain cannot even form part of a dialogue table between the Spanish and Catalan governments”. The announced second Scottish referendum has not arrived, and the disappointment has taken Sturgeon ahead. “I am a human being”, argued the main minister of Scotland when announcing her goodbye.

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