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FT follows NYT in spotlighting Catalonia

Latest developments over the October 1 independence referendum draw further attention from top international media


29 June 2017 04:16 PM


ACN | Barcelona

What may happen in Catalonia on October 1 is on the radar of some of the world’s most prestigious media outlets. After ‘The New York Times’ newspaper published an editorial on the clash between the Catalan and Spanish governments on Friday last week, the ‘Financial Times’ also released an in-depth article on the topic this Thursday. The latest developments on the vote, such as the argument over the purchase of ballot boxes, are among the issues that have once again attracted the attention of the international media.

The ‘Financial Times’ reported on the current status of the conflict and speculated over the immediate future: “Perhaps, if Madrid overreaches, another few hundred thousand Catalans will become convinced that their future lies in an independent state. Perhaps, if the Catalans hold firm, support for secession will finally break through the 50 per cent threshold,” the article read. The newspaper thus speculates that the level of response by the Spanish government could be the key to whether the plans by the Catalan government to hold a vote in three months’ time succeed. 

  • "Perhaps, if Madrid overreaches, another few hundred thousand Catalans will become convinced that their future lies in an independent state"

    Tobias Buck · Financial Times correspondent

Signed by the FT’s Madrid correspondent Tobias Buck, who is leaving his post in Spain and moving to Germany, the report also stated that while independence support “has fallen off slightly” since its highest point in 2015, “polls suggest that the number of Catalans who feel both Catalan and Spanish is shrinking over time.” “The younger generation, who have been schooled in Catalan and often have less contact with the rest of Spain than their parents, are among the most enthusiastic backers of independence,” claims the article.

Under the headline ‘Catalonia’s referendum exposes a divided Spain’, the report also looks into what lies behind the current conflict between the governments: “The looming conflict is not just about the future of Catalonia but also about the soul of Spain,” it says, adding: “For Spain, every estelada (lone-star independence flag) hanging from a Barcelona balcony is a reminder of its own historic failure to forge a single nation from the different tribes and tongues that populate the peninsula.” Moreover, the report delves into history, pinpointing the union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon through the marriage of the Catholic Kings to explain how, 500 years later, Spain still has to live with many Basques and Catalans considering themselves nations apart.

Covering the conflict between Catalonia and Spain is a challenge that the international media appears increasingly interested in taking up, and as the ‘FT’ correspondent admits: “To report on the Catalan conflict from both Madrid and Barcelona often feels like stepping from one bubble into the other.”  Meanwhile, ‘The New York Times’ editorial last Friday in favor of an independence referendum was even mentioned in the Catalan Parliament: “The New York Times is telling you that you are making a fool of yourself,” president Puigdemont told Xavier García Albiol, the leader of the Catalan branch of the People’s Party, the ruling party in Spain.

It is no surprise that the president decided to refer to the NYT editorial, as it took sides in favor of the right to hold the vote on self-determination: “The best outcome for Spain would be to permit the referendum, and for Catalan voters to reject independence — as voters in Quebec and Scotland have done,”it said, concluding: “Otherwise, Madrid’s intransigence will only inflame Catalan frustrations.”


  • Screenshot of 'Financial Times' article

  • Screenshot of 'Financial Times' article