The exiled former president of the Government of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont discussed the right to self-determination in Europe at a public lecture this week on “Independence, Nationalism and Democracy” hosted by the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy and Trinity Research in Social Sciences (TRiSS).
Movements for independence have become an increasingly prominent feature on Europe’s political landscape over recent years but what challenges do seceding nations face and what are the potential gains in terms of policy autonomy and political sovereignty? These and other fundamental issues related to contemporary European secession were considered by an expert panel of speakers comprising Carles Puigdemont along with Trinity social scientists, Dr Marvin Suesse, Dr Michelle D’Arcy and Dr Emanuel Coman. The event, which attracted a large audience, was chaired by Professor Gail McElroy, Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
In a passionate talk Carles Puigdemont discussed a range of complex issues including the historic relationship between Catalonia and Spain, the 2017 Catalan independence referendum and the current political situation in the region.
He considered the outcome of the Catalan independence referendum, which was held under his presidency in October 2017. He emphasised that the “ballot boxes said yes to independence” and reaffirmed his commitment to following this route, while noting his views on the route Spain has pursued:
“Once again it is a route that harms the rights and freedoms of Catalans. Today democracy in Spain is at risk because basic rights have been de facto suspended and these represent a measured threat to all Catalan and Spanish citizens, as well as to the European Union today.”
According to the exiled leader, the Catalan proposal is based on the foundational European values of freedom, democracy and non-violence. “The Catalan proposal is profoundly pro-European. Catalonia wishes to become a new fully-fledged state in the European Union under the rules of the European Union. Catalonia in general has a clear desire to be part of the European project as we feel profoundly involved in it.”
Trinity’s social scientists went on to discuss other aspects of the theme of “Independence, Nationalism and Democracy”.