A Little Scotland in Spain

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On Thursday 18th September, people in Scotland will hold a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. This comes 15 years after the devolution of some powers to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, which most Scots now agree was a good decision.

However, the architectonic critics consider the futuristic design of the new parliament building (above) ruined the historical skyline of the capital. The building was designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles who died even before its completion. By coincidence, another Spanish architect, Anthony Gaudi, did not live to see the final version of the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, which is where thousands of Catalonians now gather demanding referendum on independence from Spain. According to the Catalonians living in Scotland, for Scotland independence is an option, but for Catalonia a necessity.

Although I live in Slovakia, I know and like both of the concerned countries, and Scotland is even often compared to Slovakia. Plus, the topic of my Master's thesis was Scottish and Welsh independence. 

I learnt that an independent Scotland would be able to survive economically although it would be dependent on the oil in the North Sea. But culturally and historically, the Scottish deserve it. The English conquered large parts of the world during their colonial empire, but never absolutely succeeded north of the border - or Hadrian's Wall.

In my modest opinion, one day in Edinburgh was one of the best trips of my life, the only alcohol I happen to keep at home is whiskey, and when discussing the economy I always get to The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith. On the other hand, I learnt Spanish from friends in London, I pronounce the names of some footballers the South American way, and at every international event enjoy sangria with added Russian vodka.

All this serves as my personal evidence that the Spanish are more influenced by Europe than the Scottish who maintain their uniqueness. The question is: can Catalonia preserve its uniqueness? Is it a little Scotland in Spain? Catalonia is a nation with its own language and traditions (they even banned bullfighting in 2012), yet the Spanish government does not allow them to hold a vote on independence.

If I was Scottish, I would vote for independence and look forward to a new Scottish pound, be it Batman or William Wallace on the coins. But Catalonians, in my opinion, are one step behind. The major Spanish parties have sent delegates to Edinburgh to closely watch the process and learn from the results, which could help them to shape their own ‘little Scotland' in Spain.

Erik Redli is a university graduate from Slovakia who lived in London for much of his graduate life. Read more of his posts here and follow him on twitter @erikredli.

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