lundi 19 octobre 2015

Catalonia 2015-2017 : from regional elections to the unexpected revival of "Gota Lonna" !

by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph.D

The results of the regional elections in Catalonia on Sunday, September 27th, 2015, were overwhelming. It's important to know that in 2006, already, a large status of autonomy was recognized to Catalonia by Spain.
Before the ballot, the parties supporting the independence of Catalonia from Spain, attracted the world's attention on this opened will.
And now, they have to show how they are going to do to introduce a process of partition from Spain, which should last at least one year and half.

Catalonia is situated in the North East of Spain, and it has got more than 7.5 million inhabitants for 32 114 km2. Its capital is Barcelona (1.6 million inhabitants), and with 101.6 km2 it is around the size of Paris (105 km2).
When the count of Barcelona married the heiress of Aragon in 1137, Catalonia passed then to the the nascent kingdom of Aragon, which grew thereafter. So there is obviously the shadow weight of this Templar state reappearing on a diffuse way, which was bigger than the present generality of Spain.

The main point of independence claim is about fiscal redistribution in Spain, accused to take profit from Catalonia's wealth.
Catalonia is presently representing 20% of the Spanish GDP, which is already less than before.
The wealth shift between Barcelona (Catalonia), and Madrid (the capital of Castile and Spain), happened already far before. But there was the world financial crisis of 2008 since.
Presently, Catalonia's wealth is mainly depending on industry and the mass tourism of Costa Brava.

But another important element to take on account is certainly the idea to be culturally different, because of a different language, Catalan, now again in use since the death of the Caudillo Francisco Franco (1892 - 1975), the Nationalist leader.
As a matter of fact, Catalan was forbidden to use during his dictatorship (1939 - 1975).
The language by itself has got similarities with the proximate "Occitan" of the South of France.

And outsiders are not aware of another important point which has become invisible : the origin of Catalonia's name. It is believed by the inhabitants of this area that it is coming from "Gota Lonna" (extended Gothia up to Barcelona), a deformation of "Gothlandia" and then "Gotia Longa". Gothia is based upon the name of Goths, from the Germanic tribes which took control of this mediterranean region between the end of Roman era and the very beginning of Middle Age. They have been admired for long in this area.

As a matter of fact, the area of Girona and Barcelona was integrated in a bigger land after 412, with the arrival of Wisigoths (Goths of the South). And till 801, it was a part of Septimania or Gothia (with Toulouse, Carcassonne and Narbonne). It was made upon the original "Gaule Narbonnaise" dating from the Romans. It seems the Goths didn't come alone in the South West of France, as some Sarmatians tiny colonies firstly established around Lyon, got along with them till Poitiers area and below also. This was due to a family secret about the hidden descendance of Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC) in Gaul.

And the division of Gothia's marquisate (or Septimania) in two is dating back to 865 : the county of Narbonne was linked to France, and the county of Barcelona was bound to the marches of Spain, still pertaining to the Carolingian Kings. But the de facto independence of Barcelona from France occurred only in 988, when Capetian Kings replaced Carolingian ones : the count Borell II (947 - 993) didn't pay allegiance to the new French dynasty. It took time to be recognized de jure, but it was finally done on May 11, 1258 by the treaty of Corbeil between the French King Louis IX (1214 - 1270) and the King James Ist of Aragon (1208 - 1276).

Among this, the confuse irruption of "Femen" from Ukraine to France (and the world) since 2008, seems to be a rather funny coincidence...
Sarmatians were an hybrid people which emerged in 320 BC - at the time of Queen Minithya, King Spadines, and "Magog the Goth" as "referee" -, with the fusion of the not so legendary Amazons (which kingdom was covering the North of Anatolia, the South of Russia, and Ukraine) and the free Scythians. And Goths who started to settle in the Black Sea area around 180, overwhelmed them - on an original way - in the beginning of the IIIrd century. So, the Gothic history of Catalonia has indirectly something to see with an hidden mystery of history, which remained under the veil for so long till now.

Coming back to modern history, on October 6th, 1934, there was already a proclamation of total autonomy from Madrid by the president of the generality of Catalonia, Lluis Companys , and a general strike, but it failed five days after. However at the time, the point was the denounced fusion of all the Right wing parties through their participation to government, and not independence then.
This was less than two years before the civil war which bursted out between Republicans and Nationalists lead by General Franco (1936 - 1939).

There doesn't seem to be any revendication of Barcelona about the French side of Catalonia presently :  the department of "Pyrénées Orientales", sometimes called "North Catalonia" yet, and the city of Perpignan. The reason is certainly the treaty of Pyreneas between France and Spain at the time of Louis XIV (1659), and may be also the fact the chain of Pyreneas is forming a natural border between France and Spain.

But the possible dislocation of Spain, could prepare a movement of  territorial change in Western Europe, if it didn't stop. Some other areas may want to imitate this novelty, yet ancient.
Of course, that wouldn't really affect EU, as its main policy for the future is a policy of super-regions going over existing states.
About Catalonia, it would just become the 29th state of EU then !

Anyhow, Spain can't accept so easily to lose this rich province, without promptly reacting against the leader of the Convergence Democratic Party of Catalonia.
That's why Artur Mas (born in 1956), the president of Catalonia's generality, supporting this idea of independence has been accused of "civil disobedience" on last September 29th.
As nobody knows how things will evolve, the most unexpected revival could be the one of the previous and once forgotten "Gota Lonna" !