Why this story matters:
The data comes at a time when the Catalan crisis (in which the regional government attempted to declare its independence from Spain in September 2017) has brought back the role of the Spanish regions to the policy agenda. The question is especially delicate; it ties into the complex and conflict-fraught history between the different identities that co-exist in the country, such as Basques or Catalans.
Spain should move away from the "more or less centralization" to engage in a deeper discussion on the essence of what the country should be, thus dealing with the ghosts of its past. Such a discussion has, surprisingly, never happened in Spain and is long overdue.
The danger in doing so now is the thirst for revenge and punishment which clouds the minds of many. A discussion about regional identity should take place in a space where there is a respectful engagement from all parts of society, politicians and citizens alike.
At a time when all European eyes are on the Iberian country, Spain has the opportunity to show its neighbors that it has become a mature democracy that can overcome its internal conflicts. However, this seems very unlikely to spontaneously happen in the political sphere. It is up to citizens to ask elected representatives to engage in sophisticated and constructive conversations.
Details from the story:
- Think tank El Cano conducted 1,000 surveys in November-December 2017, just before the start of the latest electoral campaign in Catalonia.
- In this election, the question of independence was virtually the only topic in the electoral agenda.
- The survey shows that the number of Spaniards that want to re-centralize the state and give more power to Madrid government has increased.
- Meanwhile, there is a decline in the number of supporters of the current structure of Spanish governance.
- There is also a significant increase in people who want to roll back on having regional governments altogether and only have a central government (rise from 9% to 21%).
- El Cano's barometer shows that the vast majority of Spaniards do not believe that Catalonia will become independent.