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Banners at FC Barcelona's Camp Nou soccer stadium have long declared: "Catalonia is not Spain."
That notion got a boost this weekend as pro-independence parties won Catalonian elections and strengthened the region's drive for a referendum on secession in defiance of the Spanish Constitution and of Mariano Rajoy, the embattled centre-right prime minister.
Indeed, such is Spain's economic crisis that Rajoy declared in June that "Spain is not Uganda," prompting the Ugandan foreign minister to retort the next day that, "Uganda does not want to be Spain!" So a majority of Catalonia's 7.5 million citizens, it seems, no longer want to be in Spain — and a majority of Ugandans would rather be in Uganda. The crisis of the eurozone has accentuated longstanding Catalonian resentment over tax transfers to Madrid and sharpened the nationalism of the region with the biggest economy in Spain — larger than Greece's, as Catalans like to point out.
(Elena Salgado, the former Spanish finance minister, noted in 2010 that, "Spain is not Greece." Later that year, clearly irked, the then Greek finance minister declared that, "Greece is not Ireland." The former Irish finance minister, Brian Lenihan, retorted that "Ireland is not in Greek territory." Meanwhile, the secretary general of the OECD weighed in: "Neither Spain nor Portugal is Ireland.")
The euro crisis is also a crisis of euro-geography. Scotland has scheduled for 2014 a referendum on independence, 307 years after the political union that created the UK. The UK mutters about withdrawal from the EU. So much for globalisation, the disappearance of frontiers in Europe, borde-rless cyberworlds, hyperconnectivity and all the forces that seem to make a mockery of the nation-state and a case, at some point, for global governance. People are bored and irked. They can't get new jobs. They want new borders, especially as the likelihood of actually ha-ving to defend them in war has become infinitely remote. They want to be cyberglobal and hyper-local, citizens of the world with the passports of microstates. The desires seem to balance each other.