Spain Facts
Area:    504,782 sq. km.
Capital:    Madrid
Total Population:    39,134,000 (source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

There is no evidence to suggest that Catalans are likely to use militant strategies in their dealings with the Spanish government. All their interactions with the central government contain elements of power sharing or deal brokering. Their representatives cooperate with other parties in the Spanish parliament in seeking concessions for the Catalan region - especially increased autonomy or revenues - but feel free to withdraw their support of any government that does not help them reach these goals. Catalans view their dealings with the Spanish in light of an ancient oath between their monarch and the Castilians. This is the principle of "If not, not": "We who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws - but if not, not." So long as they continue to have economic prosperity, regional autonomy, and effective parliamentary representation, there are no incentives for a resumption of terrorism.

There is always the possibility of future protests however. While the Catalans do not possess any of the risk factors for protest: political and cultural restrictions, repression, support from kindred groups, etc., due to their strong identity and fierce autonomy, the Catalans will watch what concessions the Spanish government grants the Basques, and would protest any concessions which they would not receive. If the Basques continue to perform acts of terrorism within the Catalan region, there will be more demands from the Catalans for protection by the state. The Catalans anger could move form the Basques to the government, and at that point protests would be likely.

Analytic Summary

The Catalans inhabit one of Spain's semi-autonomous regions (as do the Basques). They live mainly in their historic homeland centered at Barcelona (REGIONAL = 1). They speak a Romance language that is distinct from Spanish (LANG = 1), and they have long had a certain level of prosperity and autonomy (the Franco period being an obvious exception) throughout their history in the region (TRADITN = 1). Compared to other regions in the country the Catalan region is better off economically, and the Catalans are not subject to any political (POLDIS03 = 0), economic (ECODIS03 = 0), demographic stress (DEMSTR03 = 0) or cultural restrictions. There is no evidence of any government repression against the group.

The Catalans have a very strong sense of group identity (COHESX9= 5), which is manifested in many organizations that advocate Catalan rights. Following 1976, pro-Catalan political parties flourished, won representation in the national Parliament, and in 1980 won an overwhelming majority in the legislative assembly of the new Autonomous Community. The non-violent nature of Catalan nationalism paved the way for smoother negotiations with the central government over the transfer of powers to the regional government. The key organizations are Convergence and Unity (CiU) - a political party that seeks greater autonomy - as well as the more radical Esquerra Republicana. The more militant organization Terra Lliure (Free Land) has not been active in recent years. Beyond the calls for more autonomy or full independence, the Catalans are concerned with the protection of their culture, language, and - a new issue - protection from Basque militants who have recently begun carrying out terrorist campaigns in the Catalan region.

The Catalans make full use of the conventional political opportunities open to them. However, small-scale protests and symbolic protest continue sporadically (PROT01 = 3, PROT02-03 = 2). No rebellion has been reported in recent years. (REB00-03 = 0). This has not always been the case, with large protests in the 1940s (PROT45X = 4) escalating to rebellious activity in the 1970s (REBEL70X = 1) and continuing on through the early 1990s (REBEL90X= 2), last occurring in 1992 (REB92 = 2). Fairly large protests in 2000 were directed against Basque violence, not the government (COMCON00 = 3).


Keating, Michail "Spain: Peripheral Nationalism and State Response" in John McGarry and Brendan O'Leary eds. The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Regulation, Routledge, 1993. pp. 204-25.

Phase I Summary

Lexis/Nexis: US Department of State Human Rights Reports for 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001-2003.

Lexis/Nexis: Reuters 1990-2003.


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