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Hungarian repercussions of the Catalonia referendum

October 3rd, 2017

A pro-government and an independent conservative pundit ponder the broader implications of the Catalonian referendum, including its impact on transborder Hungarian minorities. Both quote the title of George Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’ in their headlines.

Commenting on the clashes which accompanied the Catalan referendum in Magyar Idők, Levente Sitkei points out that successful independence movements always entail some violence. The pro-government columnist admits that in the case of Catalonia, both sides have legitimate claims. As for the broader implications of the conflict, Sitkei suggests that the Catalan case may inspire other regional secessionist movements. Sitkei suggests that the Hungarian government supported the referendum not because it wants to interfere in the dispute between Catalonia and Spain, but rather because it stands for the right of minorities to express their wishes and has transborder Hungarian in mind.

Mandiner’s Gellért Rajcsányi thinks that the Catalan skirmish has three different legitimate interpretations for Hungarian trasborder minorities. ‘Technocratic liberal globalists’ can interpret the events as a reminder that independence movements threaten peaceful coexistence, ‘romantic imperial conservatives’ may point out the dangers of disintegration, while ‘the pro-autonomy far-left as well as ethno-nationalists’ may welcome the referendum as a triumph of national self-determination. Rajcsányi thinks that it is too early to tell whether the Catalan case will help or hinder the Hungarian autonomy movement in Transylvania. One of the main lessons of Catalonia, he adds, is that violent state intervention strengthens the pro-independence movement. Rajcsányi concludes by somewhat cryptically noting that if there is enough local support and determination, collective aims may be achieved both by Catalonians ‘and by Hungarians in the Carpathian basin’.

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