Catalonia: The Perils of Majoritarianism

Issue Date April 2019
Volume 30
Issue 2
Page Numbers 142-156
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Four explanations are commonly given for the unprecedented stalemate between regional secessionists in Catalonia and the Spanish central government in Madrid. None of these explanations, however, can provide a full and convincing account of how this political crisis reached its current proportions. Instead, this article identifies majoritarian democracy at both the central and regional levels as the main culprit. Institutionally, majoritarian democracy produces electoral winners who do not need to reach across the aisle. Culturally, the winner-takes-all mentality exacerbates polarization instead of helping to overcome it.