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“Madrid’s refusal to negotiate a fiscal agreement with Catalonia fuels support for independence”, says Québécois analyst

The political scientist Alain Gagnon, from the Université du Québec à Montréal, believes that popular desire for secession is weaker in the francophone territory of Quebec than in Catalonia because Canada has agreed to remodel the fiscal redistribution scheme. He believes that Catalonia is closer than Quebec to becoming an independent state and considers that next Tuesday’s demonstrations on the Catalan National Day could “raise awareness of the situation between Catalonia and Spain at a European level”.

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07 September 2012 12:05 AM

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ACN / Maria Fernández Noguera / David Tuxworth

Barcelona (ACN).- \u201CThe unwillingness [of the Spanish Government] to negotiate\u201D a fiscal agreement \u201Cdirects Catalonia towards independence\u201D, says the political scientist from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Alain Gagnon. He believes that Catalonia is closer than Quebec to becoming an independent state since Canada has agreed to adjust the fiscal redistribution scheme, reducing Quebec\u2019s desire for secession. Although the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) was the winner of the elections last Tuesday, it was a marginal victory and they will govern in the minority, therefore \u201Cit will be very difficult to hold a referendum on independence\u201D, said lawyer and political scientist Christian Dufour.


According to recent surveys, only 28% of Québécois citizens would vote \u2018yes\u2019 to secession. However in Catalonia, the latest survey by the Centre of Opinion Studies (CEO) suggests that 51% of Catalans would support independence in a hypothetical referendum. Furthermore, the analyst Alain Gagnon is convinced that Catalonia is closer to becoming an independent state than Quebec. The political expert said that the new Québécois government will be taking note of the events taking place in Catalonia and Scotland as a guide when facing the question of Quebec\u2019s sovereignty.

Gagnon believes if the demonstration on the National Day of Catalonia next Tuesday has a considerable number of people it could be a \u201Csignificant message\u201D and \u201Craise awareness of the situation between Catalonia and Spain at a European level\u201D, similar to that achieved on July 10th 2010, as a reaction to the Spanish Constitutional Court\u2019s sentence on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy (which had been approved by a referendum in 2006). Alain Gagnon, who spent a year in Madrid, is about to publish a book detailing the parallels between Quebec and Catalonia.

Ambivalence in both areas

On the other hand, Christian Dufour does not see eye to eye with Gagnon and believes there is a strong "ambivalence" surrounding independence in both Quebec and Catalonia. He stated, \u201Cthe Parti Quebecois\u2019 victory is not a victory for independence; it\u2019s a party that wants full sovereignty and could bring independence to the Québécois\u201D but it\u2019s not amongst the party\u2019s immediate priorities. What is agreed on by many parties is the need to combat \u201Cthe marginalisation of Quebec by Canada\u201D and \u201Cstrengthen Quebec because the future remains open\u201D as well as keep the question of independence open for future debate.

A separatist minority government

The Parti Quebecois (PQ) led by Pauline Marois has taken over from the Jean Charest\u2019s Liberal Party, who had been in government since 2003. The separatists (PQ) are back in power, but this time weaker as they obtained only 31.94% of votes, followed closely by the Liberal Party with 31.21%. In third place, with 27.06% of the vote, stood the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), a splinter party of the Liberal Party which prioritises the economy over independence. 

In this situation \u201Cthe PQ has little room for manoeuvre\u201D said Christian Dufour, researcher at the École Nationale d'Administration Publique (ENAP) in Montreal. Dufour shows that minority governments are expected to hold office for one and a half years, compared to five years of in the case of a majority government. The electorate has punished the Liberal Party, worn down by corruption and student demonstrations. It is for this reason that the researcher believes that the PQ\u2019s victory is due to a desire to oust the Liberal Party from office, rather than a desire for independence.  

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  • The Parti Québécois, supporting the independence, won the last elections (by Reuters)

  • The Parti Québécois, supporting the independence, won the last elections (by Reuters)