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Mapping and Explaining Elite-Citizen Divisions in a Minority Nation with Devolved Institutional Powers. Catalonia across the Decades

Enric Martínez-Herrera
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Enric Martínez-Herrera
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Thomas J. Miley
University of Cambridge
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper provides an analysis of the social forces behind national hegemony and the 30-year-long top-down campaign for “national reconstruction” in Catalonia, a well-known case of minority nationalism that has managed to rule the regional institutions without interruption ever since the instauration of self-government in contemporary Spain. We conduct our study on the basis of two specific representative surveys of the political elite and a host of surveys of the attitudes and behavior of the general public. In accordance with our empirical findings, we argue that the political consensus in favor of “national reconstruction” does not reflect any underlying societal consensus but instead constitutes an instance of effective “blocked articulation” in a consolidated context of representative democracy. We demonstrate that there is a significant degree of societal polarization, but that the preferences expressed within the party system and in government policies do not register and thus block the articulation of the preferences, opinions, and beliefs of many members of Catalan society – in particular, those of Castilian-speakers. Finally, we study the sources of the elites-citizenry gap. We advance three mechanisms by which such effective blockage has been achieved: (1) the under-representation of Castilian-speakers in the region’s representative institutions; (2) the nationalist indoctrination of mother-tongue Catalan-Speakers that used to hold dual identities; and (3) the co-optation and partial assimilation of elected Castilian-speakers into the attitudes and preferences of Catalan-speakers, who constitute the hegemonic fraction of the political establishment.