On Spanish Democracy

Catalan-Independence-Civil-War-Danger-SpainNo sooner had Catalan president Artur Mas guided his nationalist coalition to victory at Catalonia’s plebiscitary elections on Sunday night than a court in Madrid announced that Mas would face formal charges relating to civil disobedience and the ‘usurpation’ of Spanish constitutional powers.

The complaints were filed against Mas before Sunday’s poll and refer to his involvement in an unofficial – and, in all likelihood, illegal – independence referendum staged by the Catalan government on 9 November last year.

But the timing and symbolism of the announcement could not have been worse for Spain.

One of the chief motors of Catalan nationalism is the desire, held by a significant section of the Catalan population, for Catalonia to ‘have its say’ on the nature of its relationship with Madrid. And, over the last few years, Madrid’s equally steadfast refusal to let the Catalans ‘have their say’ has reinforced Catalan nationalist sentiment.

So the prospect of Spanish authorities prosecuting Mas for trying to facilitate a democratic referendum on independence will consolidate the view many Catalans have of Spain as institutionally anti-democratic.

To round off this spectacular Spanish publicity disaster, Mas’s first court date has been scheduled for 15 October – the 75th anniversary of the execution of Lluis Companys, the president of Catalonia between 1933 and 1940, by Franco’s army.

What I find most striking as I watch this crisis unfold from my flat in Sants, a sprawling working-class district of Barcelona, is how little the sense of crisis seems to extend beyond Spain’s borders. Europe is either indifferent to or complicit in Spain’s belligerent dismissal of Catalan democracy.

On Monday, Gianni Pittella, president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists in the European Parliament, described Sunday’s poll as “a regional election and not a referendum on independence.”

“The real challenge is not fragmenting national states but to make the whole of Europe stronger together,” he added. “The demands for further autonomy can be fulfilled, but within the [framework of] national unity.”

Pitella may not have realised, or simply didn’t care enough to know, that Catalan demands for enhanced autonomy have been consistently ignored by Spanish governments of both the left and the right for more than a decade.

In 2003, the Catalan parliament decided to update and strengthen the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, a document protecting Catalonia’s status as a distinct political community within Spain.

At first, the Spanish Socialist Party and its leader Jose Zapatero, then in opposition, seemed open to the idea. But once elected, Zapatero’s enthusiasm cooled. In 2005, after the new Statute had been approved by the Catalan parliament, Zapatero said he wouldn’t endorse anything that undermined the Spanish constitution, which includes a provocative clause enshrining the ‘indissoluble unity’ of the Spanish nation.

Five years later, the Spanish constitutional court struck down key passages of the Statute and, in 2011, Mariano Rajoy, leader of the abrasively right-wing Partido Popular (PP), took office in Madrid and promptly shut-down any discussion of extending Catalan devolution.

The election on Sunday, and November’s non-binding plebiscite, were attempts to break the resulting deadlock. Both were quickly denounced by Madrid as illegitimate.

The noises now emanating from the Spanish capital are increasingly sinister. On Spanish TV yesterday Ramon Rodriguez, a former vice-president of the Spanish supreme court, remarked that “as a last resort [against Catalan independence], our police have machine guns.” Rodriguez’s comments echoed those of Spanish defence minister Pedro Morenés, who warned just prior to the vote that military intervention in Catalonia would not be necessary “as long as everyone does their duty.”

Under different circumstances, rhetoric of this sort might illicit international condemnation. But, again, Europe remains silent. There is no call from Angela Merkel or David Cameron to respect the outcome of a fair and transparent election; no statement from the European Commission pleading with Spain to resolve its dispute with Catalonia non-violently; no European initiative to settle a political conflict at the heart of Europe that threatens to turn nasty.

As far as Europe is concerned, Catalonia is an internal problem for Spain and will remain so even if Spain decides to deal with that problem in ways that are inconsistent with Europe’s professed ideals.

It probably won’t come to that.

Catalan nationalists have set-out an 18 month timetable for independence during which they hope to leverage a binding referendum out of Madrid. And before then, at the end of December, there is the Spanish general election.

Although the Socialists, whose traditional approach to Catalonia has been more consensual than that of Rajoy, currently trail the PP in the polls, they could still end-up in power. With the support of Podemos, the insurgent leftwing party led by the Pablo Iglesias, the left may have enough seats to lock Rajoy out of office.

Even then, however, a legal referendum may not be possible. In order for a referendum to be authorised, the Spanish Congress would have to vote by a two-thirds super majority to change the Spanish constitution. And the prospect of that happening, as the situation intensifies, seems vanishingly slight.

Writing yesterday, Catalan academic Josep Valles summarised the forces in Spain gathered against Catalan independence and explained the effect the break-up of Spain would have on Spain’s political psyche.

“The Spanish state’s high bureaucracy, the main economic and financial powers, the most important media and cultural groups and, finally, a large majority of Spanish public opinion [are all opposed],” Valles wrote. “The interests and mindset associated with Spanish nationalism judge an eventual Catalan separation as an unacceptable defeat.”

But Spain is already acting as though it has suffered an unacceptable defeat. How will it behave if negotiations fail and a divided Catalonia unilaterally heads for the exit door?

At 10pm last night, some of my neighbours in Sants leaned out of their windows and began clattering their pots and pans together. This is an old Catalan (and Latin American) tradition, usually used to express political dissent, and I have heard it on previous trips to Barcelona. But last night was, I think, the first time it had happened since I arrived in the city ten days ago.

There will be a lot more clattering in the weeks and months ahead.

Comments (46)

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  1. Jean says:

    I was interested in the custome of women clanging pots and pan in protest……took me back to the 70’s/80’s here in the north of Ireland where the women used to bang bin lids when the British used to saturate housing estates to raid homes……disturding article, my heart goes out to the Catalans.

  2. Marga says:

    Living in Catalonia, thanks for the fine summary of things here.

  3. Cal McMartin says:

    “Europe is either indifferent to or complicit in Spain’s belligerent dismissal of Catalan democracy.”

    As they have been on Scotland claim?

    I am still a committed European, protection of the herd, no borders, single currency, common / enforced pollution and climate change targets, etc and the culture we have to share with each other. But I have been perplexed by the EU stance on Greece.

    We saw cameron two weeks ago saying Spain would be much stronger together. Perhaps the USSR would have been much stronger together? China is much stronger with Tibet. Indonesia was much stronger when it held on to East Timor, etc.

    The European powers, especially the older ones appear to support self determination everywhere except the EU.

    I see a future fundamental problem along the lines of seeking to add states at its perimeter, but not within its perimeter, double standards and sure to cause internal tension!

    In Catalonia they will be getting exactly the same lies and misinformatiopn dealt out to Scotland via the Spanish state broadcaster and Madrid based newspapers, your too small, too stupid and too poor, you need Spain and if you dare to leave us we will cripple your economy and leave you with no friends!

    My best wishes go to Catalonia and her people!

  4. Douglas says:

    Fair enough, Jamie, I can´t disagree with the thrust of what you say. There should be a binding referendum in Catalonia of course, but most people in Madrid on the Left agree with that. Podemos agree with a binding referendum for example.

    You need to reform the Constitution, an idea what has gone from being cranky to being mainstream…even Cebrian in El País was calling for that the other day.

    I wouldn´t read too much into some of the bizarre comments from the right in Madrid. The idea that there could be some kind of military action is far-fetched. It would never happen I don´t think.

    The fact is that Catalonia is divided in a way similar to Scotland, though much more intensely as is always the case in Spain. Spanish nationalism has created this problem to a large extent, but Mas didn´t win…he needed an overall majority of votes, and he didn´t get that. Even the CUP have said that they won´t declare UDI for that selfsame reason….and you can´t declare UDI unless you have an overwhelming majority it seems to me….it´s just not credible.

    All this is jockeying and posturing. Mas has recycled himself as anti-establishment. Well, the Ciu were never, ever anti-establishment, they were always much to the right of the SNP even. Jordi Pujol, who is the godfather of Catalan nationalism, was found to have had 20 million Euros in a bank account in Andorra. Mas was his number two…..his heir and his successor….go figure….these guys were in on La Transición, which was flawed, and they got their share of the cake…

    It´s all a bit of a farce. I agree that the Catalans have been frustrated time and again by the right in Madrid – but not just Madrid; the further south you go, the deeper the hostility is felt; there is entrenched Spanish nationalism in the PSOE from Alfonso Guerra to Felipe Gonzalez to Jose Bono….we don´t have a word like “charnego” in Scotland….which is a disrespective term for Andalucian immigrants in Catalonia…

    …but ultimately I can´t agree with Catalan independence, whereas I do in the case of Scotland. In Scotland, we have a clear border with England. We don´t have “Scottish territories” elsewhere like some Catalan nationalists claim Valencia and a small part of France.

    And Barcelona and Madrid are roughly of equal weight in Spain -nothing at all like Edinburgh and London. And if the Catalans go, the Basques will go, and maybe Galicia too. There is a risk of Balkanisation here, undoubtedly and Spain is not a mature democracy….it has had maybe 40 or 50 years of democracy in its entire history…

    So I defend the right of the Catalans to decide their own future, but I would always hope they stay in Spain….a federal, Republican Spain, which is what I would like to see.

    Plus, at the end of his travels, Don Quixote reaches the beach in Barcelona….

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      I’m less sanguine than you are about how far-fetched some kind of military action might be, but even if it is unlikely the fact that such threats are being made at all, particularly by those in positions of real power and influence like the Defence Minister, demonstrates pretty clearly that the Catalans have some justification for wanting independence. I agree with you that Mas and Junts pel Si (JxSi) don’t have a mandate for UDI, despite coming close at the elections, and the fact they stood on a platform of using a pro-indy majority of seats as sufficient for starting the process of independence.

      I would however disagree that you need an overwhelming majority to declare UDI. If we accept (which I think most democrats would?) that >50% is a mandate for independence in a referendum, it is arguable that a higher threshold is necessary for UDI, particularly if you want others to recognise your status post declaration; but what level of support would be necessary…. 55, 60…75%?

      The problem in Catalonia’s case is the blank refusal of the Spanish state to compromise and grant a legal referendum, and the wrongheaded insistence by Spanish unionists that the Spanish constitution prevails. Of course this is really just a tactic to ensure a perpetual Spanish veto on independence for Catalonia or the Basque country. I’m not sure why you feel that the existence of Catalan nationalists who want to include other Catalan speaking areas somehow renders the whole project unsupportable. As far as I’m aware any irredentist feeling for incorporating such areas is pretty negligible, and would in any case be premised on those areas democratically voting to be included.

      Balkanisation may be a risk (although realistically only the Basques are likely to follow suit any time soon) but if there is a democratic will for it, then why not? A federal, progressive Spain is a nice idea but I’m not sure most pro-indy Catalans and Basques are prepared to wait until it happens at some point in the future.

      Alex Salmond was right in his recent Bloomberg piece; we should be supporting both sides to come to a mutually agreed solution and using our good offices to make sure it happens. Such a solution, along with the example of the Scottish referendum, should serve as a shining example of how things can and should be done. However, if Madrid refuses to compromise it has to be made aware that there are consequences. The international community, and in particular the EU & NATO need to make it quite clear that they will not tolerate the use of force or violence to crush Catalan independence, nor will they allow the Spanish state to use judicial means to try and derail the democratic process. Madrid has a duty to negotiate in good faith with the Generalitat; if it does not do so, UDI is probably inevitable and in such circumstances is entirely understandable.

      1. Douglas says:

        Andy, you obviously know Spain well, so you must know that the Spanish have a flair for drama and theatrics which is what all this sabre rattling amounts in my opinion….who wins from a confrontation such as we are seeing – completely farcical and a national embarrassment? Rajoy wins and Mas wins….I find it hard to take seriously….la farsa nacional sigue…just like the Plan Ibarettxe….what happened to that again?

        …as for what you need for indie….well, of course, you have a mandate with 51%. But that´s no basis for setting up a new country…65% or 70% you need I would venture….and there was never a country in the history of the world called Catalonia….there was the Kingdom of Aragon, there was the Condado de Barcelona….but it´s just not comparable to Scotland in my view.

        On the other hand, the Catalans have always had the self-respect to defend their own culture and language, so nothing whatsoever like the Scots…

        My favourite poets are mostly Catalans….I can´t tell you how much I like Catalonia…I respect their right to decide their future…I’m not particularly passionate about the matter….nobody I know in Madrid cares either way….still, I hope they stay in Spain….I am not going to apologise for that…of course you´re right about the Spanish establishment and the right wing….

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          Thanks for the thoughtful response. I don’t know it as well as I’d like Douglas, having never lived there like you; my interest is more academic and grew out of the indyref and links to the Catalan issue as a result of that. I’ve made quite a few friends as a result though (and had a few argument and un-follows for saying 48% isn’t a mandate for indy! 🙁 …as you say, a passionate people…or passionate “peoples” perhaps?).

          I don’t really buy the super-majority requirement for a referendum; it has been used for some, but the majority of those held have only required a plurality. I think some countries who have provisions for the electorate to call referendums on issues impose a minimum requirement of say 40% of the total number of possible electors (i.e. including non-voters), which might be an option I guess? In reality tho, >50% is probably sufficient. Natural law wouldn’t really be served by a pro-indy vote of 59% failing due to a 60% rule, still less 65% in face of 66% rule?

          I get your point about the differences as well as similarities between Catalonia and Scotland; same goes for comparisons among any of the “broadly” similar candidates for indy in liberal democracies including Quebec, Euskadi, Flanders. I find the commonalities and differences fascinating! I suspect you are right about most Castilians not caring about the issue that much – much the same applies in England re Scotland I suspect.

          1. Douglas says:

            Exactly Andy…I mean you have to distinguish between the Spanish Establishment – who are for the most part a bunch of illiterate Neanderthals, as most ably demonstrated by Rajoy – and the common people in the barrios of Madrid. Here, nobody really cares either way….”Let them do what they want!!” is what people always say…usually laughing and making a joke….of course nobody trusts Mas, and quite rightly so…

            …of course the Catalans are right to feel aggrieved. They have every right to feel aggrieved….the whole thing has been an utter farce…..they voted for a home rule bill which the Constitutional Court took to pieces…..but from there to leaving Spain….so many of my friends are Catalans and Basques….we have the crazy Spanish nationalists…..what can we do? What can you say about Felipe Gonzalez who compares the Catalan nationalists to Stalinists the other day? Mad, bad and dangerous….but these are common enemies for us all…

            …on the other hand, up until now, as far as I know, nobody has mentioned the incursion of “the forces of darkness”…hee hee hee…that can probably never be bettered…

            ….if you come to Madrid one day, ask Bella for my email and gie me a shout….

  5. Paul Codd says:

    I lived 4 years in and near Barcelona and have watched recent events with interest. Europe’s political power structures are the centralisation of centralised national power structures. It’s indifference (at best) towards independence movements shows it’s contempt for it’s own citizens who are not regarded as sovereign. It is the existing club of nations which is sovereign. It’s paying members are Spain and UK, not the citizens of Spain and UK. Europe has been set up on the false assumption that in order to have coherence at the level of a greater whole we must give up individual and even national sovereignty to invest it in the centre of power, the unelected European Commission. That assumption may have been true once upon a time (although it certainly represents a lack of creativity) but these days it is patently false. There is no reason why individual countries should not have their own currency and the euro. Their own laws and taxes, and supra-national laws and taxes. Europe, as it currently stands is structurally incapable of acting on behalf of its citizens, only on behalf of its member states. As such, as citizens it is not in our best interests to support it, especially as we see what it is willing to do to its citizens in Catalonia, Rest of Spain and in Greece.

  6. Jim Morris says:

    What right has Douglas to decide whether Basque or Galician separatism have legitimate claims? Balkanisation came about because of the unjust, unfair and unwise break up of former imperial states to the benefit and supposedly security of the winners of various wars, themselves waged by imperialists. World-wide colonialism was abusive to the various colonial resident populations. Modern day economic colonialism is just as pernicious, and you dont need to be far away from the seat of power to qualify as a colony.

    1. Douglas says:

      Jim Morris, I am not claiming any specific right…I am giving you the informed opinion of somebody who has lived in Spain for 25 years in both Madrid and Barcelona….and who has read Spanish history….

      ..it´s an opinion man, 80% of my friends in Madrid are Basques….but what about Navarra? Is Navarra Basque or is not Basque? And in the case of the Catalans….is Valencia Catalan or is not? It is claimed as part of “les pays catalans” by the CUP as far as I recall….

      There is no answer to these questions….people have opinions about these things in Spain…if Catalonia was independent tomorrow, you would have two or three new fronts opening up, calling for a referendum in Valencia and maybe even Sardinia…..there is no end to it….

      So I prefer the Federal Republic and full scale autonomy for Catalonia, Euskadi and Galicia….of course

      1. Andy Ellis says:

        But there is an answer. A relatively straightforward answer in a true democracy: let them vote! “Volem votar” wasn’t the tagline of the pro-indy movement for nothing. Whether Valencia wants to join with Catalonia is matter for the people there to decide; the Catalan speaking parts of France and the small enclave in Sardinia are probably a harder nut to crack but in principle who are we or anyone else to deny them if they wanted to join a Catalan state? Self-determination is after all a right; as Scots, we can hardly insist it applies to us, but not to them because it might upset the neighbours.

        It’s ridiculous to say there is no end to it; in fact it feeds in to the absurd reductio ad absurdam argument trotted out by those opposed to independence here and elsewhere that it will end up in “Passport to Pimlico” style chaos.

        1. Douglas says:

          Of course the Catalans should be allowed to vote, Andy….I categorically defend their right to self-determination….

          …but if you get into the Valencia question, say, then you are definitely going to get a reaction from Spanish nationalism. Guess which country had most civil wars in the 19th century? Spain….that´s not even getting to 1936….

          …a large part of Spanish history has been about this very question…..people feel passionately about it on both sides….if the Catalans go and the Basques go and then you might easily find a violent reaction from the right wing in Spain….

          …poco a poco….the obvious thing to do is reform the Constitution and enshrine the rights of the nations of Spain to decide their own future….

  7. Douglas says:

    As for the European angle, well of course the leaders of Europe are going to defend the status quo, that is obvious….the whole European project is aimed at greater union, not the creation of new states…

    ….I have always maintained that the case for Scottish indie is head and shoulders above that of any other nation in the world I know of….we have a legal document, we were never defeated militarily, we are in a Union in which we are outnumbered by more than ten to one….

    Spain is a totally different kettle of fish. It is a state made up of different nationalities. The Galicians, the Basques, the Asturians, the Catalans, the Castillians and the Andaluces…. and god save me if somebody from Murcia or Extremadura reads this and they haven´t been mentioned….

    …it should be up to the Catalans, one of the greatest European cultures, but my hope is that they would stay, and Mas, in my opinion, should be trying to change the Constitution, not follow the same crazy “ultrismo” of the PP, who have no clue of what democracy even is….recycled “fachas” for the most part….but a minority in Spain….

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      I’ve debated this “reform the constitution” line in some detail with pro’s and anti’s. At base it comes down to a pretty stark disagreement as to whether folk regard the Spanish constitution as sacrosanct and thus able to over-rule any Catalan referendum held without Madrid’s express approval irrespective of the level of support, or whether they regard the right of self-determination as pre-eminent and thus not subject to any approval or agreement. This echoes the debate in Scotland pre-Edinburgh Agreement about whether the Scottish Government was “competent” to call a referendum. Of course in that case the britnats backed down, so the case was essentially moot, but the parallels are there.

      Absent some sea-change in Spanish politics (which I’m not sure I see coming) the unionist parties and establishment in Madrid will never change the constitution to allow Catalans or anyone else to decide their own future. They profoundly believe that Spain is indivisible, and that ANY change is subject to the whole of Spain agreeing. Catalans and others seeking a democratic mandate are therefore right to be wary of Spanish politicians promising reform or federalism; these will only ever be tools to preserve the unity of the Spanish state and spike the guns of pro-independence movements, not genuine attempts to promote democracy or pluralism, still less republicanism.

      1. Douglas says:

        Fair enough Andy….but I don´t follow your logic….this idea that the Constitution can´t be reformed is over….courtesy of Angela Merkel of course who insisted it was reformed so that the 3% cap of public debt to GDP would become part of the Spanish Constitution….(you couldn´t make it up)…….Podemos and other forces like them are completely open to it….so why couldn´t it be reformed?

        Nobody would have ever thought in 1970 even that Spain could have a constitutional democracy….

        …if you support Catalan indie, fine by me mate. But I don´t. I respect the opinion of my Catalan nationalists friends, but I think they are wrong….and I think if you look at Spanish history, you have to be cautious…

        “La historia más triste del mundo / es la historia de España / pues termina mal”….Gil de Biedma, from Catalonia of course…

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          I realise that Podemos, PSOE etc might be making the right noises about constitutional reform, I’m just not sure it will happen. Even if it does (presumably only if the left win a majority at the next General Election scheduled in December?) I’m not convinced that Spanish “unionism” is ready to row back on the principle of “Spain one and indivisible” .

          I agree with your comment about things changing, and nobody believing in 1970 where Spain would be now…I just think that the 1978 Constitution, despite being agreed in the shadow of Francoism and even greater threat of violence than is the case today, has become something of an article of faith for many who oppose Catalan (or Basque) independence. Of course they may not prevail; arguing with them is like trying to argue with some of the britnat extremists in this country who honestly believe future referendums should be banned, Holyrood scrapped etc.

          I do agree caution is necessary, but it can be taken too far. In the past multinational Empires like Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, the Ottomans etc. were overtaken by events. Many of their peoples were advised to be moderate, cautious and push for reform from the inside. A century on, we should be beyond the necessity for conflict to bring about change. Spain is a democracy, even if an imperfect one. It is part of the EU & NATO. The test of a democracy is how it addresses such problems. As Paul Codd notes above we need to encourage the switch from accepting that nations are sovereign, to assuming that people are sovereign.

          1. Douglas says:

            Andy, you´re right about the Constitution being an article of faith / excuse not to ever allow Basques or Catalans to self-determine….of course you are….

            I have a Catalan friend who is a nationalist who tells me that Catalan indie is the key to bringing down the Spanish establishment….maybe he´s right and I´m wrong….maybe…he´s a smart guy….but at what cost? There is no nationalist movement in Europe worth a drop of blood being shed.

            The Spanish establishment are terrified of Catalan indie…in a way that is incomparable with the British establishment and Scottish indie….because the ramifications are much greater….and they are….the Basques would go for sure, and given ETA were active until just a few years ago….I don´t know, I just see a whole number of problems and the extremists gaining ground….bombs and bullets….the Spanish have a great flair for fratricide,…

    2. Andy Ellis says:

      I think there is probably something to your friends argument; in fact I’ve long said that Scottish independence would be a good thing for the rest of the UK. Imagine how different things might be now if the vote had been Yes last September? Of course there are risks; but risks exist staying in the UK in our case or within Spain in the Catalan case. In the end it’s a balance; like many Catalans I feel the risks are worth the potential gain. I don’t really believe Spain would descend into chaos, but then nor did I believe that the sky would fall if Scots had voted Yes.

      For what it’s worth, I think membership of the EU & NATO (whatever you think of them generally) would make it exceedingly difficult for the Spanish state to “go off on one”. You can’t stay in either whilst taking military action against the Catalans, and the Spaniards certainly can’t afford to crash out of the EU, even if they were prepared to ditch NATO membership.

      1. Douglas says:

        Andy, I don´t think the Spanish State would do anything militarily against Catalonia….the whole country would fall over laughing…the Spanish army in action? No, that´s all over I think…that ended with Tejero en 1981 in the Spanish Congress, when he stormed the parliament and fired those bullets into the ceiling and tried to declare a coup…..

        …what I mean is you could easily get street violence and spontaneous nutters making bombs, in a way not dissimilar to the north of Ireland. We already had it in Madrid, in the Centro Blanquerna, where I used to take Catalan classes….a few guys came in and started beating the shit out of people….they were arrested and tried….

        …the thing about the Scots, and the English, is that they have no experience almost of violence. There hasn´t been a war on Uk soil since 1746. Anybody who lives in Europe knows that there is a background of violence…the Spanish Civil War was a total bloodbath all round….800,000 killed….it´s in the air…..it happened not very long ago at all….so I prefer to be cautious and go slowly….let´s get some constitutional rights for the Catalans and the Basques to decide their future, and then we´ll see….that´s my view….

      2. Paul Codd says:

        Independence isn’t worth a drop of blood anywhere – correct. But neither is austerity. EU caused austerity in Spain and Greece which has caused far more than a drop of blood. For a while in Greece suicide became a national sport. People are genuinely hungry still. In Spain the bailiffs have never been so busy, and for so many years on the trot. Isn’t that also blood on the tracks? And it’s happening now as a result of the blind implementation of EU policy by centralist national governments.

        The police have not been saving their rubber bullets or tear gas. And all of this is in the name of European led austerity. Why would EC change their tune if things got really nasty, and what instruments do they have, other then the existing national police and military forces to be able to impose peace? Would other EU nations volunteer their forces to fight against Spain’s national forces? No. NATO on the other hand would stand by until it was far, far too late.

        However the sabre rattling by former Francistas is just that. Machine gunning even 1 peaceful Catalan would result in an almost universal rejection of the establishment by all areas of modern Spain, and result in serious existential problems for the monarchy among others, so it’s highly unlikely they would misread the zeitgeist to such a degree.

        Just like in Scotland, when push comes to shove, the establishment will offer devo-max federalism, then postpone, water-down, forget, until they’re shoved again.

        In my view it’s OK for things to go slowly like this, even if it’s horrendously frustrating at times. It gives entrenched positions a chance to accommodate the changes little by little and should minimise the most serious problems for highly invested interests. Even if we don’t like or respect those interests, taking the approach of “harm none” is likely to reduce the barriers to the flow to greater democracy and self-determination.

        Besides if history is anything to go by, any other approach eventually leads to us becoming the thing we set out to destroy. If Scotland were to declare UDI based on national sovereignty in a way which rode rough shod over rUK’s voice and interests, we’d pretty soon find ourselves throwing all the dirty tricks in the book at Shetland to stop them from leaving and doing the same to us. If we set up a new framework based on the sovereignty of people, in the long run we’d likely end up with a queue of English regions, Celtic and Scandinavian countries asking if we’d like to come out to play.

        Icelandic people wrote their own constitution. Is that something Catalans and Scots can do now, albeit in draft form? It would certainly provide critics with something tangible to compare (the new Catalan one with the old Francista Spanish version, and the new millennial democratic Scottish constitution with the Magna Carta).

        1. leavergirl says:

          I don’t know, Paul. It’s a nice argument, and who wants to take the American Civil War type of solution over what Brits did with slavery? But on the other hand, they killed students at Kent State in 68. Plenty of the U.S. esp baby boomers turned against them. And look at today. Shite. Star Wars troopers for police.

          Entrenched positions don’t want to accommodate anymore. That’s what austerity is all about. And Iceland home-made constitution remains a draft. I think it would be cool for Scotland to do it, but I don’t have illusions about its impact.

          I agree with you about changing into what we really want to be, instead of playing the power game. But it has to be something else that this going-nowhere, democracy-destroying incrementalism. Besides, can Gaia really wait at this point?

  8. leavergirl says:

    And what about Slovakia? There was no referendum, and if there had been, I am betting a bitcoin against a potato that it would not have gotten even 45% for the break up of Czechoslovakia. It was totally imposed by the politicians, practically overnight, and not a peep from the EU. No speeches about how states ought to stay together. And the whole “true federalism” thing? The Slovaks were fed that under communism, and it never really got done. It’s a joke in the U.S. It’s been weakened in Switzerland. It’s a great rhetorical device, but it never happens. The central power hogs always want more and more of their favorite addictive substance. (Same goes for Brussels.)

  9. Jim Alexander says:

    the simple fact is that the Yes Block did not win 50% of the seats that they stated would trigger a timetable for Independence – no matter how close or the fact that there was no clear majority of No’s as 10% of the elected MPs were on the fence and not part of the Yes Block.

    In Scotland 55% of the population voted No

    In both cases you need a majority – that’s it -very simple – you need a majority otherwise Democracy is pointless.

    Separatist Parties cannot continue to ignore the democratic Will of the electorate.

    As for Spain the current Constitution was approved by 80% of the electorate of Catalunya – Albert Mas cannot ignore it and rightly so he has been taken to task over running an illegal referendum – The British Courts would do the same in similar circumstances – otherwise why have a Constitution in the first place.

    As for Lluis Companys its estimated that over 8000 civilians deemed “bourgeoisie” or “rightist”, plus religious orders members and priests were killed in Catalonia in the summer and autumn of 1936 when he was the President of Catalunya ,he handed over the City to POUM who ran amok in a killing spree – there are always two sides to any story – maybe not the best example to use as a Martyr to the Catalan cause.

  10. bill fraser says:

    To me it would appear that Catalonia are going to have a great deal of difficulty in attaining independence due in part as there is a written constitution in Spain which fortunately doesn’t exist in the U.K.Also there is the threat there of military/police action being used.Perish the thought it would come to that, there or even in the U.K.

  11. Kenneth Coutts says:

    Franco’s Spain is rising again, anyone for an International brigade perchance, unfortunately spain is made up of to many neoliberal fascist’s again.

  12. Justin Kenrick says:

    I’m still searching for someone who knows Catalonia to answer the following question: Is there a majority for independence in Catalonia? Much of the response from the Ues and No side in Sxotland and the UK is based on the fact that explicitly pro-independence parties received 39.5 + 8.2 = 47.7% of the vote

    But

    You also need to factor in the 8.9% vote for the Catalonia Yes We Can group of parties (CSQEP) – “Although independence isn’t directly supported, the group is in favour of a consultation on the relationship between Spain and Catalonia and its leaders are sympathetic to Catalans’ right to decide on self-determination.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/datablog/2015/sep/24/guide-catalonia-most-important-election-ever

    In other words in a straight Yes/ No referendum would a good proportion (whether a third, a half or two thirds) of those 8.9% be likely to vote Yes to independence? Is that enough to suggest that Yes won this surrogate referendum, and would win a real one?

    1. Chris Carnie says:

      Hi Justin. I live in Catalonia and have written a brief blog piece on the maths of Yes/No here. It was a clear win for Yes, and it would have been a clear win had there been a referendum. See http://serosedseriocat.blogspot.com.es/2015/09/carry-on-catalonia.html

      1. Justin Kenrick says:

        Excellent, thanks Chris

  13. Jim Alexander says:

    47.7% isn’t a majority – just like 45% isn’t a majority – you can imply – make assumptions fiddle the numbers say “Ah but” the nasty Unionists were cheaters etc etc spin it whichever way you want- but the simple fact there isn’t a democratic mandate for separation in Catalunya

    Just like there isn’t a democratic mandate for Indy2 in Scotland 12 months after the single largest vote in our History said No by a Margin of 11% – even the SNP leadership accept that- hence no Indy” timetable in there Election Manifesto for 2016

    By ignoring those against separation either in Catalunya or in Scotland you ignore the process of Democracy

    Putting up posts wishing the people of Catalunya well is disingenuous as its aimed at those pushing for separation – what about those who do not want separation – do they not count are there views irrelevant
    The Spanish Constitution which had the support of over 80% of the electorate of Catalunya clearly states that they cannot hold a referendum on Independence- the rule of law has to be adhered to otherwise you have anarchy – Albert Mas has to be taken to Court – its not pick and mix – you don’t get to decide what bits of the Law you obey or don’t obey because it doesn’t suit your views ,otherwise why bother with Laws – lets just have a Free for All

    I note with interest the emotional reference to Albert Mas court date being on the Anniversary of the execution of Lluis Companys – you mean the man who in 1936 handed over Guns to POUM who went on a killing spree of mass murder of over 8000 civilians deemed “bourgeoisie” or “rightist”, plus members religious orders members and priests, as well as burning all the churches, monasteries and convents of the city.

    Move out from Barcelona Centre to the outlying districts of Badalona ,Cornella ,Sant Adria etc and the Estelada is replaced by the Spanish National Flag on peoples Balconies – go to Estadi Espanyol on a Sunday Evening ask the Fans on there views on separation

    The Author gives a very very biased report on support for Catalan Nationalism -its less than 50% there is no mandate for a timetable for separation – Nationalist Politicians in Catalunya and Scotland should start respecting the wishes of the majority otherwise Democracy is a farce.

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      “47.7% isn’t a majority – just like 45% isn’t a majority – you can imply – make assumptions fiddle the numbers say “Ah but” the nasty Unionists were cheaters etc etc spin it whichever way you want- but the simple fact there isn’t a democratic mandate for separation in Catalunya”

      Nobody is saying there is a majority in either case. That’s why JxSi didn’t move immediately after to declare UDI and start to establish a new state, because if they HAD polled over 50% that would have been a mandate. You might not like the result, but if you’re a democrat, it involved abiding by a democratic result. Similarly, the Yes camp in Scotland last September abided by the result of it’s defeat. Only in the through the looking glass world of anti-democratic britnat extremists does defeat in a democratic election somehow equate to those who were defeated being obliged to give up on their goal. There is nothing anti-democratic about continuing the struggle, or calling for another referendum. To insist otherwise is asinine.

      “Just like there isn’t a democratic mandate for Indy2 in Scotland 12 months after the single largest vote in our History said No by a Margin of 11% – even the SNP leadership accept that- hence no Indy” timetable in there Election Manifesto for 2016”

      Says who, exactly? Polls suggest support for independence has been increasing consistently ever since last September. Some even have the pro-independence vote at >50%. As you say, the SNP and Yes movement accepted the result, just as the No movement will be obliged to accept any future Yes vote. That’s democracy for you.

      “By ignoring those against separation either in Catalunya or in Scotland you ignore the process of Democracy
      Putting up posts wishing the people of Catalunya well is disingenuous as its aimed at those pushing for separation – what about those who do not want separation – do they not count are there views irrelevant.”

      Of course their views are relevant, as is the debate. Such views however don’t mean they can stop independence if a majority vote for it. Which part of the democratic process don’t you understand? It works both ways.

      “The Spanish Constitution which had the support of over 80% of the electorate of Catalunya clearly states that they cannot hold a referendum on Independence- the rule of law has to be adhered to otherwise you have anarchy – Albert Mas has to be taken to Court – its not pick and mix – you don’t get to decide what bits of the Law you obey or don’t obey because it doesn’t suit your views ,otherwise why bother with Laws – lets just have a Free for All”

      No, sorry, you can’t get away with that. Constitutions get changed all the time. The 1978 constitution was signed in the shadow of Francoism and the very real threat of violence. Such threats are still being used. The Spanish constitution cannot be used as an anti-democratic hammer to pound the right of self determination into the dust. Prosecuting Mas will simply inflame the situation and make independence more likely. On a state as deeply stupid and regressive as Spain would even consider it.

      “I note with interest the emotional reference to Albert Mas court date being on the Anniversary of the execution of Lluis Companys – you mean the man who in 1936 handed over Guns to POUM who went on a killing spree of mass murder of over 8000 civilians deemed “bourgeoisie” or “rightist”, plus members religious orders members and priests, as well as burning all the churches, monasteries and convents of the city.
      Move out from Barcelona Centre to the outlying districts of Badalona ,Cornella ,Sant Adria etc and the Estelada is replaced by the Spanish National Flag on peoples Balconies – go to Estadi Espanyol on a Sunday Evening ask the Fans on there views on separation”

      People are trying to prevent civil war; the Catalans aren’t the ones proposing the use of force now, that’d be the Spanish Defence Minister and former Supermen Court appointees. Atrocities happened on both sides in the Civil War but as was recently demonstrated in Preston’s “Spanish Holocaust” the overwhelming majority were perpetrated by the Nationalists side, not the Republicans.

      “The Author gives a very very biased report on support for Catalan Nationalism -its less than 50% there is no mandate for a timetable for separation – Nationalist Politicians in Catalunya and Scotland should start respecting the wishes of the majority otherwise Democracy is a farce.”

      Your view seems to be just as biased, sorry particularly given your previous paragraph. The elections weren’t a referendum. There is every chance had it been so that Yes would have gained >50% as many in CSQP/UCD would probably vote Yes when presented with a Yes/No choice, particularly in the absence of any coherent plan for a more federal alternative. There are already reports of UCD people defecting to Mas’ party and the JxSi because of their dissatisfaction with the result last Sunday. You keep demonising nationalist politicians in both places for doing something they aren’t doing. They ARE respecting the results. The ones who aren’t are people like you who seem to think that because one vote is lost, it’s definitive and we should just give up for all time. Sorry, that’s not how democracy works!

      1. Jim Alexander says:

        Andy

        First no one has stated those favouring Independence cant continue to Campaign -but you cant simply ignore the Democratic Will of the majority simply because the result doesn’t go your way.

        As for the Spanish Constitution of course it can be changed -BUT that’s for the people of Spain to decide NOT Artur Mas -the Spanish Courts clearly stated the referendum was illegal – so are you suggesting that people simply ignore the Courts – you cant play fast & loose with the judicial process -otherwise you have anarchy and Mas is very fast approaching a position of attempting to subvert both the Democratic Will and the rule of Law in Spain.

        Im honestly at a loss as to what benefits that pro Independence Catalans think they will gain – they are struggling Economically & Politically – independence wont fix that in fact it will make it worse. as they lose a large Market in the rest of Spain.

        Lest we forget that Jordi Pujol- the man who invented the concept of Catalan Victimhood admitted corruption on an Industrial scale for nearly 30 Years – its not as though Catalan Politicians are any better than those in Madrid.

        As for Lluis Companys – you are correct atrocities were committed on both sides – including the Mass Murder of over 8000 innocents under his watch – he isn’t by any stretch a Martyr as for the fact that the Nationalists killed more than the other side – that’s how Wars are won – you kill more than the other side – the scale and numbers would have been similar under the Communists controlled by the NKVD if Franco had lost – or possibly worse if Joe Stalin had a major say.

        Lets not reinvent Spanish History

        Serious question – how many Catalans have you spoken to that are against independence as you seem to have a very skewed view of the situation in Catalunya

        1. Paul Codd says:

          There’s that “8000 innocents” again. Before it was “8000 civilians”. Where is that figure coming from? My understanding of that history is sketchy but I was of the view that there was an attempted coup by fascists in Catalunya. That is why the POUM and CNT were armed. After that was put down, the militias went on to extra judicial killings of people who were known figures of the regime which had brutally suppressed them before the time of the republic including members of the Church which as an institution had been a key facilitator of the monarchic establishment. I’m not in any way excusing their actions, however if you have a problem with extra-judicial assassinations I suggest you take it up with David Cameron who is doing exactly that to British subjects in Syria in our name as we read this. As I understood it the 8000 figure is largely made up of the military deaths.

          1. Jim Alexander says:

            The 8000 figure was from the Historian Antony Beevor – the killings were post Coup attempt -those killed were not part of the establishment but “seen to be” on the right or part of the Church – it was a massacre of political nature no different from similar purges of the Left that took place under Franco – there were very few killed in the Coup attempt from the Military – similar Left Wing purges took place throughout Spain – atrocities were carried out by both sides – the Nationalist won – so they carried out more post Civil War – if the Communists had won and given they were being controlled from Moscow I doubt it would have been much different given Joe Stalins enthusiasm for purging by the Million

            The point being that Lluis Companys was no innocent therefore hardly the “Martyr” to nail your colours to and hardly a model to try and repeat

        2. Paul Codd says:

          In 4 years of living in Catalunya until 2011 I only met a single one who was pro union with Spain, and he was working for Partido Popular (the tories). I am not a raving nationalist so I may have met several where the subject just didn’t come up. However I would definitely say the vast majority are pragmatists who will make the best of any constitutional arrangement but their heart wants their country to be treated with a respect they believe it is not given. Many are overtly nationalist, and for some of those independence may still not be their primary focus of political concern, and for many it is.

          There are many unionists that have immigrated from Andalucia and other parts of Spain, and from other places such as Morocco and South American countries. Often the children of Andalucians settled in Catalunya during Franco’s time maintain a pro-union view, sometimes due to an underlying resentment from Catalans that they may have experienced. Most immigrants, especially Spanish speakers whether from Spain or elsewhere, come to Catalunya believing it is perfectly fine not to learn to speak Catalan. Just because Catalans all speak Spanish doesn’t mean that is ok. If thousands of Scots were paid to move to Holland en masse and expected the local population to only speak to them in English just because they can, while the Dutch were banned from speaking their own language, simmering resentment is probably a logical and proportionate response. Of course some of that will be reflected on the colonists themselves, and it is these and their grown up children who are the core supporters of Madrid and Spain.

          1. Jim Alexander says:

            Really – the only people who want to remain part of Spain are those who moved from other parts – non Catalans are estimated at 10% of the population which will include Spanish and a lot of South Americans

            I have had a house in Northern Catalunya for 17 years – I also import from Factories there – those I speak to in Business and as freinds are more concerned about jobs and keeping them than independance – the language they want there Children to learn is English as that increases there job prospects – they use less and less Catalan as the other parts of Spain they deal with in Business use Castillan – they worry that there Customers in other parts of Spain will stop buying there products due to the nonsense from the likes of Mas

            Those working in the Banking Sector that I know are 100% opposed to seperation as they see how dependant they are on Madrid bailing them out.

            As for PP – they control working Class areas like Badalona – so they are hardly “Tories”

            As for the use of Catalan its falling away with each generation – young people tend not to use it – apart from that Historically it was always used in the North the further South it was used less – so its incorrect to imply its the fault of “Spanish Immigrants” that its falling away.

  14. willie says:

    The unionist jackboot of Spain lives but they will live to regret it.

    No good ever comes of trampling democracy and one only need look at the mess that was Northern Ireland to see that.

    Despite the UK pouring some 30,000 troops into Northern Ireland the UK did not win.

    And the IRA nearly killed the Prime Minister too.

    Sad thing in all of this is that like Spain who had a civil war too, the UK would it seems do it all again

    Fair or foul was what the UK general said last week when he declared that the army would usurp any elected left wing prime minister.

    Seems we have a lot in common with Spain.

  15. willie says:

    And yes, the Catalan’s were a great example of peaceful democratic process.

    Let us hope that democracy will prevail and that unlike Britain with its colonial past, self determination will be peacefully accommodated.

  16. Douglas says:

    Andy Ellis, the thing I don´t understand is people like yourself, Jamie Maxwell and Alex Salmond no less continuously linking Scottish indie to Catalan indie. The constitutional status of Catalonia is a hindrance to future Scottish independence, not a help.

    There is no way on this earth that the EU would ever accept Catalan UDI. There are numerous territorial questions and break away movements in Europe from La Liga del Norte in Italy to the Flemish to Bavarian nationalism to Corsica in France….Scotland is lucky because it has one single border, it is geo-politically fortunate like the Catalans are not. It also has an international binding agreement – the Union of 1707 which the Catalans do not have.

    The whole history of Europe has gone through centuries of conflict because of these issues.

    And there is a certain similarity between the complaints of La Liga del Norte in Italy, who are on the far right, and Catalan nationalism, viz, the poor in the South of Spain and Italy are robbing our wealth. The Catalans are the true , hard-working Europeans apparently, whereas the Andalusians are not; Andalusia, the land which gave the world Lorca, Góngora, Cernuda, Manuel de Falla, Miguel Hernandez, Velázquez….frankly it is a risible argument, it is a right-wing argument which is fairly widespread among Catalan nationalists….

    But the wider issues is about respecting the democratic process, and the Spanish Constitution, imperfect as it is, is the basis of that process. They have never had a working democratic Constitution which lasted more than a handful of years in Spain. How can Artur Mas propose to just ignore that fact? It is totally reckless in my opinion, without first exhausting ALL of the other avenues.

    And what do you think, if Florida decided to unilaterally secede from the USA, Washington would just say “fair enough”? What do you think the US constitutional court would say?

    Más is being processed because he ignored a specific order from the Spanish Constitutional Court which stated the referendum he called last November – which he also lost – was contrary to the Spanish Constitution, which it is. Mas ignored that order and went ahead and he was perfectly aware that he was flouting the Constitution, and setting himself up as role of the great Catalan martyr….

    …Companys, by the way, unilaterally declared the Catalan Republic in 1933….he ended up in prison as a result…which Mas knows perfectly well….he is playing politics just as much as the right in Spain, because there is no more emotive name in modern Catalan history than Companys and his horrific torture and execution by Franco´s fascist thugs in 1939….

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      I don’t understand why you find it in the least strange that people in favour of Scottish independence would tend to look favourably on the campaign for Catalan independence, or that in Quebec for example? I also don’t accept that “linking” them (although I’m not really sure that’s what I or anyone else is actually doing) hinders our search for independence. While there are many similarities between these 3 cases, there are also significant differences whether historical, economic, linguistic or social. These factors don’t necessarily either help or hinder Scottish independence, but the broad brush arguments do resonate, particularly those with respect to whether nations or “peoples” like these 3 in advanced, western democracies have the “right” of self-determination, under what circumstances, and according to what procedures.

      You don’t know what the EU will do in the event of a UDI vote, and more importantly neither does the EU. Of COURSE they are going to temporise now, but just like the scaremongering during the indyref it is in the interests of anti-democratic regressive forces to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt. There is no earthly reason for the EU to try and exclude the richest part of the former Spanish state from membership in the event of independence.

      I don’t accept the rest of your frankly fairly facile and superficial “argument” regarding the precedent for other areas or how you caricature the debate vis-a-vis the rest of Spain or other potential separatist movement. The only ones in Europe with any realistic prospect of going anywhere are Catalonia, Scotland, the Basque country and Flanders, because they are the only ones with any significant popular support.

      The Spanish constitution has already lasted a generation. It has failed to adapt to or answer the legitimate desire of Catalans for more control of their affairs. Much like the situation in the UK, the failure to satisfy that desire, and the inability of the unionist side to accommodate it or come up with a realistic solution, has simply fed the desire for independence. Bas isn’t ignoring the fact, he and other Catalans from different parties, are demanding the right to vote. If Madrid won’t compromise, and sticks to the tired line that the constitution prohibits it, they make UDI inevitable because Catalans have nowhere else to go. Scots may have found themselves in the same position had Westminster refused to grant a S30 order.

      The “thought experiment” of a US state trying to secede is one often used by anti-independence campaigners. The main problem is that there is precisely zero evidence of any appetite for such a move. The most regular candidate mentioned is Texas, where there is a pro-independence movement, but it’s very much a ring organisation. However, having said that, are you honestly going to argue that if, at some future time a majority of Texans voted to secede you would support moves to deny them that right? I don’t think I would; indeed, I’d go further and say that anyone arguing such a position is taking a profoundly anti-democratic stance. (And please spare us the “reductio ad absurdam” Passport to Pimlico gambit!).

      As for the Mas/Companys comparison, perhaps the real lesson to be learned is that the use of or threat of force, and moves to use illegitimate legalistic means to derail a democratic movement for independence are doomed to fail. Cameron and the britnat establishment realised that picking a fight with the pro-independence movement by trying to veto last years indyref would have been counter productive; it’s about time Madrid and the less pleasant fringes of Spanish nationalism did the same. If they don’t have the self awareness to do it on their own, they need to be told in no uncertain terms that moves to use force to crush the Catalan independence movement will leave them isolated, and risk their membership of both the EU and NATO.

      1. Douglas says:

        Andy, you are just ignoring reality…..Artur Mas as the paladin of the peoples of Europe is an utter farce…

        ..he has managed to weaken his own position with every single move he has made, the last three elections he has called, on every single occasion, he has lost strength and seats…his party has fallen apart as a result….the Ciu no longer exist…..he was on the right, now he is suddenly pacting with the Left….

        …his referendum in November 2014 was a failure, not even a majority of Catalans voted….and he felt he was entitled to call it because he has been given succour by the SNP and Scottish nationalists, most of whom know nothing about Spain or Spanish history…..it was an opportunistic cynical move which would never have happened without September 18, and he deserves everything he gets….

        …Mas had no constitutional right to call a referendum and most countries in the world have a binding Constitution which all the political parties are obliged to follow. Do you think the French, the Italians, the Germans would do anything different to what the Spanish Constitutional Court has done? What do think the judges of the Constitutional Court are there for?

        ..funny how Scottish nationalists never support the League of the North in Italy. Why? Because you automatically associate Catalan nationalism with the left and the League of the North with the right. You associate Madrid with Franco – who was from Galicia, just like Rajoy; see? Not Madrid – and you ignore the fact that the Catalan bourgeoisie are just as to the right as Madrid….

        Your whole reading of the Catalan situation just now is informed by prejudice, by prejudging the situation instead of examining the facts….you talk of the Catalans as if they were an oppressed people when they are not oppressed….Catalan culture, and the Catalan language are in a far healthier state than our own culture. Much, much healthier…

        If the SNP tried to emulate how the Catalans have defended their own culture, and spent less time falling into the simplistic dualisms which are the stuff of Mas and Rajoy, we would all be a lot better off.

        The American Civil War was caused by the South seceding from the North….the war in the Ukraine was caused by the secession of a part of Ukraine….the war in the Balkans was caused for similar reasons….there are always crazies out there…

        ..what Mas has done is completely at odds with our current political culture in Europe. The fact that we have the worst government in the history of European democracy in charge of Spain at present is no excuse….they will probably be gone by December….you never can tell, a wee bit political common sense might even break out in Spain then….

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          Douglas, I didn’t say he was a paladin, nor do I believe it. Please try to interact with what I say, rather than what you “wish” I had said, and we’ll make more progress analysing your (over-long) rants, eh?

          I have no axe to grind for Mas or his party, or any other Catalan party. If I did, it certainly wouldn’t be in favour of a centre-right party like his. Support for his particular party may have declined, but support for parties advocating independence has continued to rise. Similarly, an overwhelming majority of Catalans voted for parties who wanted the ability to vote; over 74% in fact, on a 77% turn out. you may not approve of the movement, or the potential consequences, but that isn’t your decision to make.

          The 2014 Catalan vote was a failure because most felt there was no point voting. It’s as simple as that. People won’t turn out or will react half heartedly if they feel there is little point. Much the same happened in the 1979 Devolution referendum in Scotland and the AV Referendum in the UK. Big whoop. Your hatred of Mas is apparent, although I’m not sure where it comes from. I suspect Scottish support, official or otherwise had very little to do with his choices. In reality, the SNP were quite careful NOT to get too involved in the Catalan process, so I think your reading of events in this instance is just plain wrong.

          You’re actually wrong that most countries have constitutions which ban secession. Some do, some don’t mention it, and some make specific provision for it. Even the Spanish constitution envisages circumstance under which the power could be given to hold such votes, the fact is Madrid has simply set its face against it. Irrespective of your faulty analysis of even this point however, the basic precept remains; the legalities of the Spanish constitution do not over-ride the wishes of a majority of Catalans. Self determination is a right, not something in the gift of the central power. If that involves extra-constitutional action then so be it. International law (such as it is) is silent on the matter. Of course in the post WW2 decolonisation process, the presumption was toward the territorial integrity of nation states, but it’s not an absolute. Check out the Canadian Supreme Courts comments on the Clarity Act after the last Quebec Referendum; the court recognised that whilst a UDI decision from Quebec in the absence of agreement from Ottawa technically breached the constitution, such a declaration might gain international recognition in circumstances where the Canadian Federal government had not acted in good faith during negotiations. This is exactly what the Spanish government are not doing; by failing to negotiate or compromise, they leave only one real option open.

          Your comments about left/right bias are noted, but don’t hold any water. If the Veneto of Northern League want independence, and have a majority for it, then I don’t really care what side of the spectrum they are on, unless of course they are totally extreme or advocate hateful policies I couldn’t support. I disagree with your crude caricature of my position on Catalan situation. Your rather laughable misrepresentation of my views, and your attempt to read more into my comments than they actually contain, says a lot more about you than it does about me.

          Catalonia isn’t Scotland. Neither is it Quebec, still less Ukraine, the Balkans or (for the love of God!) the Confederacy. The whole point of civic nationalism in advanced democracies like Scotland, Catalonia and Quebec is that there is no excuse for them to descend into chaos. We’ve already seen in Quebec and Scotland that such debates can be empowering and serve as an example of how these things should be done. The onus is on Spanish nationalism to demonstrate it can follow its UK and Canadian exemplars; of course there are risks, particularly given the extreme sub-Francois bring on the Spanish right, but just as in Scotland, when enough people think those risks are exceeded by the potential benefits, and vote for change, it will be unstoppable.

          You may be right that common sense will prevail; I certainly hope so; but I wouldn’t bank on Spanish nationalists seeing sense, any more than I would extreme British nationalists.

          1. Douglas says:

            Andy….I´m bored of the whole thing, like about 90% people who live in Spain, a country in a severe economic crisis, one of the most unequal in Europe, with extreme poverty and 25% unemployment…as I´ve said to you before, I defend the right of the Catalans to decide their relationship with Spain, but with patience, with the word, building alliances and never resorting to extra constitutional measures until ALL of the available constitutional options have been exhausted…. what happened to the virtue of patience?

            “Patience, and shuffle the pack of cards” said Cervantes….things change….circumstances change…

            …hatred is not a word I would use to describe any political rival, much less for a lightweight like Artur Mas whose sole virtue is that he speaks good English. That he and the Ciu have GULLED Scottish nationalists since time immemorial about the highly complex and deeply tragic history of Spain and Catalonia is beyond any doubt for me….

            You sound like you have a nationalist agenda, whatever want, people should have it, wherever it is…fairyland politics in a continent which invented the EU precisely to end these problems after 1000 years of fratricide.

            Politics is the art of the possible, and you assume, as so many people do in the bubbleland of the UK, that everybody is reasonable as you are. Well, they´re not….ETA´s arms fell silent just a few years ago, and the Spanish State, led by Felipe Gonzalez, sponsored dirty war in the Basque country for years…

            …but facts never bothered die hard nationalists anywhere in the world.

    2. Andy Ellis says:

      Douglas, I don’t know if you set out to be irritating or it just comes to you naturally. I’m sure Catalans will note your advice, and then do as their consciences dictate. I’m guessing many, or even most, feel that have been patient already. They’ve asked the Spanish state to be reasonable; there’s still time for that to happen.

      I don’t know how much evidence you have for this cunning plot by the fiendish CiU to gull us poor simple Scottish nationalists; I suspect not a whole lot? As for your “de haut en bas” superiority complex about die hard nats, and simplistic analysis, I reckon you know where you can put that, huh?

      1. Douglas says:

        So I have a superiority complex and I am irritating….okay, Andy, but you win the argument…eh?

        I think you will find I haven´t made any PERSONAL comments about you to undermine the argument you have made on this thread…

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