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In pursuit of independence: the political economy of Catalonia's secessionist movement

Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


This article examines the fiscal dimensions of recent support for Catalan secession. Since the region is a cultural community distinct from the rest of Spain, much research has spotlighted national identity features in the calculus of Catalan political aspirations. This study supplements this work by contextualising support for Catalan independence in terms of the state's fiscal arrangements with the use of public opinion survey data. Even after controlling for self‐reported cultural identity and other relevant factors, it argues that support for independence is a function of grievances rooted in the desire for Catalonia to assume responsibility for taxation and spending policy. Meanwhile, it validates some observations about Catalonia's separatist movement, while bringing others into question, and offers support for the theoretical framework linking political economy to secessionism. The results suggest that Spain might be able to stave off Catalonia's separatist bid through some form of political and taxation policy reconfiguration, with the caveats that cultural identity factors and the existence of other separatist movements across the country complicate this strategy.