How Geopolitics Is Bringing Nationalism Back to Spain

Feb 21, 2019 | 10:00 GMT

Nationalist supporters rally outside the Catalan government building in Barcelona during a protest in October 2017.

Nationalist supporters gather outside the Catalan government building, the Palau de la Generalitat, following a pro-unity protest on October 29, 2017, in Barcelona, Spain. Thousands of pro-unity protesters gathered in Barcelona, two days after the Catalan Parliament voted to split from Spain.

(JACK TAYLOR/Getty Images)


  • Like so many other European countries, Spain is now experiencing a re-emergence of nationalism. In Spain's case, it is occurring as a reaction to Catalan separatism.
  • Spain's geography has contributed to competing nationalisms in the country, which has led to resistance in the country's periphery to Madrid's centralizing efforts.
  • The April 28 general election will most likely result in a fragmented parliament, opening the door for nationalists to be key in the formation of a government. This would lead to renewed discord with Catalonia and potential clashes with the European Union.
  • Calls for constitutional reform will grow louder, but political fragmentation would make that process increasingly difficult to complete.

Spain is preparing for an early general election that will mark a new chapter for the country. Propelled by factors such as the global financial crisis, rising economic inequality, growing skepticism about globalization, and fears of the economic, cultural and security impact of immigration, nationalist and populist political parties have made gains in national elections across Europe over the past decade, in some case, entering government coalitions. Spain has remained an exception -- until now. The country is finally joining its European neighbors in experiencing a rise in nationalism. But the process is taking a very distinctive shape, setting Spain apart in a new way....

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