Catalonian parliament pushes towards independence

UnknownThe Catalonian Parliament voted on Monday to formally begin the independence process, 72 votes to 63. The Barcelona-based government aims to separate from the Spanish state within the next 18 months and again become a republic. Junts pel Sí (Better For Yes) and CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) won the 27th of September elections on a platform for independence and are now fulfilling their electoral mandate.
Undoubtedly, the Spanish establishment will continue to reject “the beginning of the process to create an independent Catalan state” via the constitutional court. Prime Minister Rajoy said immediately after Monday’s vote the resolution “has no value and no consequences”. The unionists claim the independence moves are illegal and tried to prevent Monday’s vote from happening through a legal challenge last week.

“But the Catalonian declaration [of intent for independence] asserts that the constitutional court’s power over Catalonia’s Parliament is null and void,” Enric Blanes tells me.

I meet Blanes and Isabel Galera the Friday before. They know what to expect, both are activists involved in the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). This mass movement of local assemblies organised the million-plus demonstrations for independence in Barcelona over the last few years. The dismissive attitude by the Spanish state towards Catalonia has largely caused the surge in popularity for independence, they explain.

A widespread independence movement was sparked after the Catalonian Parliament ratified a small change, which was then overturned. This was about the way Catalonia was framed as a nation within the Spanish state and it was originally ratified in 2005, then approved by the Spanish constitutional court. Afterwards, the conservative People’s Party (PP) began a successful and divisive campaign across Spain to invalidate the change. The Catalonian constitution was rewritten and watered down in 2010.

“This made a sudden and dramatic shift in Catalonian’s opinion on the Spanish state. We saw there was no alternative but independence,” Galera tells me.

The reaction was first felt in Arenys de Munt, a small town, which held a referendum vote for independence from Spain. 92% voted Yes. The Spanish state deemed the vote illegal. The unofficial vote spurred many similar votes across Catalonia, and the ANC that would go on to organise the mass demonstrations was first set up to coordinate these polls. Now there are more than 500 local assemblies across the nation, in all over 50,000 activists involved.

Blanes and Galera assert the grassroots ANC has been vital for the independence campaign. Galera says before it the movement was split by political differences: some would accuse others of not being committed to enough independence or the wrong type.

“It was like Life of Brian,” she adds.

Isabel Galera also explains that an important tactic was to get people involved speaking over anonymous encrypted emails. In effect, enabling people to appreciate they shared similar concerns.

The sheer numbers on the yearly protests on Catalonian national day, 11th of September, organised by the ANC over this decade show their influential role. After the 2012 rally, then ANC President Carme Forcadell went to the Parliament asserting how it needs to begin a formal referendum process. Since in the Junts pel Sí coalition, she is now the President of the Catalonian Parliament.

In 2012 the independence movement tried to hold a formal referendum. Again the Spanish state blocked this via the constitutional court. Three leading Catalonian politicians face potential jail time for trying to initiate this referendum, even though that Catalonian Parliament had a democratic mandate to hold it.

The centrality of people power within the independence process is decidedly absent from the mainstream international media coverage. And this is not the only problem. An aspect pushed in the corporate coverage is that the governing pro-independence coalition of Junts pel Sí and CUP, are illegitimate, as they only received 48% of the vote.

This attack on the validity of the 72 seats – a majority in the 135-strong Parliament – seems flawed. There are 3 different camps in the Catalan Parliament. 48% of the votes went to independence, outnumbering the unionist who gained 37% of the vote. The rest voted for parties (mainly Catalonia Yes we Can) that called for a referendum to be held, without backing each option.

Media distortion of Catalonian independence debate is not isolated, I hear from Blanes and Galera. Along with a message of fear and smear, there seems many similarities with the tactics from the British establishment against Scottish independence.

One example comes from a former leader of the Social Democrat party PSOE, who recently said that Catalonia needs to be put down the same way as it was in 1934. This was the last time Catalonia was a Republic, when it was decimated by Franco and his fascist allies.

A central fear pushed by the Spanish unionists is that Catalonia will not be allowed to join the EU. Another pro-Unionist piece of propaganda suggests Catalonians will all of a sudden resort to violence.

A central thrust of corporate news coverage is also that Catalans want independence as it was hit hard by the financial crisis. The message is that Catalans want to go it alone as Madrid takes more financially from the country than it gives back. This simplistic narrative seems to miss a central point: Blanes and Galera explain how Spain, 40 years on from Franco dictatorship, is still run by the same elite families. It is well known that corruption is endemic in the Spanish state. The point is backed up by the monumental rise of two anti-corruption parties in Spain, Podemos on the left and Ciudadanos on the right. It is worth noting that Ciudadanos are a party that grew up in Catalonia, on a platform against Catalonian independence. In the September elections, they received 18% of the vote.

Outside the Parliament, after the declaration of intent has been passed, everyone is either a supporter of Catalonian independence or a journalist. I speak to Marc Martinez, an independent documentarist who has been covering the independence movement, and is supportive of it.

Martinez agrees the Spanish government’s crack-down is a main factor in galvanising independence. He also blames the relatively short tradition of democracy in Spain as to why the central government has resorted to challenging Catalonia’s parliament through the courts.
“But the question here is about changing the law to reflect the will of the people. That is democracy. Just as so many changes that have happened throughout humanity from changing laws via civil disobedience, like women’s right to vote and the abolition of slavery.”
I ask what he thinks will happen next.

“I don’t think we’ll reach independence in the next year or two. But it has reached the point of no return.”

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  1. Craig B says:

    Informative article, but does “Junts pel Sí” not mean “together for Yes”, rather than “better for Yes”? At least, Google Translate seems to think so.

    1. Cairnallochy says:

      According to my Catalan dictionary “junts” means together so that translation look OK to me.

  2. Kenny Smith says:

    I have my fingers and toes crossed for them. I hope they go all the way and hopefully Scotland won’t be far behind

  3. Douglas says:

    This piece is full of factual errors, I am sorry to say.

    There is no such thing as the “Catalan Constitution”. What the Constitutional Court watered down was the “Estatut”, effectively a Home Rule Bill which the Catalans had voted in favour of, and which had been passed by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan Parliament. The Spanish Constitution talks of the “nationalities” of Spain, whereas in the preamble to the Estatut, there is a reference to Catalonia as a “nation”. Yes, it´s that petty…

    Secondly, there has never been a “Catalan Republic”. Campanys – who was cheered by the crowds in Andalusia – unilaterally declared a federal republic within the Spanish State in 1934, for which he was jailed.

    Thirdly, there is indeed endemic corruption in Spain, but that includes Catalonia. Oriol Pujol, son of Jordi Pujol, the equivalent to Alex Salmond, allegedly used to fill BIN BAGS full of cash and drive over the border to Andorra to deposit them in a bank account, where Jordi had 20 million Euros…when they asked him where he got such a sum of money, he said it was an “inheritance”…

    Exactly: an inheritance from the Spanish Transition to democracy. The CIU, the party which no longer exists, and which was once led by Artur Mas, is being investigated for numerous corruption cases, with the party accused of taking 3% on kickbacks from public works….which is exactly the same figure the PP in Madrid are accused of taking too…. funny that? The Tranisicion was a carve up…

    Artur Mas imposed the most draconian austerity measures on Catalonia before Rajoy even did on the rest of Spain, eager to be a “good European” and do Merkel´s bidding. Artur Mas has been in favour of independence for about three years…he was never in favour before.

    To declare the Catalan Republic after some regional elections – which Junts Pel Si tried to make into a plebiscite – in which they did not win even 50% of the vote is equivalent to declaring UDI.

    Nicola Sturgeon, in the recent SNP party conference, made the reasonable point that until you have 60% or 65% of people in favour of independence, effectively a second referendum would show a lack of respect to the NO voters. She is right. What Junts Pel Si are doing is wrong, unconstitutional and totally at odds with the normal course of European politics. They have just gifted the General Elections of December 20th to the crazy rightwing PP, because Artur Mas and Mariano Rajoy need each other and love each other, and the more they can fight, the thicker the smokescreen to hide their own corruption scandals. A plague on both their houses….

    If there are so many Spaniards in Scotland, decent, intelligent, friendly young people for the most part, it is because Spanish politicians like Mas, Rajoy, Pujol and the PSOE have stolen their future by bleeding the country dry of money…

    Say what you want about the SNP – and I am critical of them in many aspects – but they are a serious political party. They have shown exemplary patience, constancy and discipline over many years. They have always acted constitutionally, and they have earned the respect of the Scottish people as a result.

    It took us 80 years to get a parliament and 100 years to get a referendum. Did the SNP do anything unconstitutional in 79 after the rigged referendum, or when we had 2.5 million signatures for a parliament in the 50´s? No, they did not. Unless you support UDI, I can´t see how anybody can have any sympathy for what Junts Pel Si are doing….they are tarnishing democratic, civic nationalism with unconstitutional politics which effectively ignores the wishes of 50% of Catalonia….

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “They have always acted constitutionally”

      Unlike Westminster, where they make the rules up to suit themselves (e.g. EVEL, Smith, etc).

      Scottish votes for Scottish laws? What is good for the goose….

      1. Douglas says:

        Exactly, we will win independence eventually because of our patience, our constancy and our quiet determination. because of our seriousness and our belief that, at the end of the day, the manner you win independence is important. That is the only way you will convince the silent majority to vote for independence. The SNP know it. Unless you get that 60 or 65% you don´t have the legitimacy.

        What is happening in Catalonia is madness in my opinion…

  4. Alf Baird says:

    “Unless you get that 60 or 65% you don´t have the legitimacy.”

    So if Yes got 51-59%, we would just say: “naw, its no legitimate”?!?

    1. Douglas says:

      Alf, I don´t know the answer…what I mean is if you get a clear mandate, the road is much smoother….in terms of everything…the post indie negotiations, the international side of it, and, most importantly, you don´t end up with the same scenario in reverse, by which I mean, a movement calling for reintegration with the rest of the UK or Spain….there is such a thing in Portugal, which was supported by people like Nobel Prize winner Saramago….

      …but neither Scotland nor Catalonia have ever shown consistent support for independence in their history.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        We should doubt the outcome will be “smoother” either way, given their history.

        1. Douglas says:

          Well, at least in Scotland, where there is a lot less passion but a lot more clear-headedness, the nationalist movement understands that, these days, you have to convince people over time of the merits of indie. You can´t impose it on people.

          Nobody almost in Spanish politics understands that basic principle. The PP – right wing fanatical catholic Spanish nationalists almost to a man – don´t believe in convincing people and neither do Junts Pel Si it seems. These guys don´t really understand democracy. They see everything as a tactic of a long, low intensity war. In fact, some are saying that the motion which passed in the Catalan parliament is in fact just another tactic.

          I´d say one of the most underestimated parts of the success of the SNP is their constancy and steadfastness. They were always there, quietly making there case, and now their time has come. They never got into a national coalition government with the Tories, like the Ciu did with Aznar´s PP. They always believed in Scottish independence, and that was always their main goal.

          Get this: at the last Spanish General Election, Artur Mas ran for office, and there was no mention of calling a referendum on Catalan independence in his manifesto. Compare and contrast with the SNP…

          1. Jim Scott says:

            Whilst Douglas’s contribitutions correct several glaring errors in the original, they are not without errors or ambiguities.

            CiU “the party which no longer exists” was never a single party but an electoral and formal coalition of 2 seperate parties; CDC (of Mas and Pujol fame; infamy in the latter case, patently) and UDC which has broken the coalition to distance itself from from CDC’s conversion to full blown nationalism. Though UDC has suffered losses both of members and even more importantly of votes, as best can be analysed, in the process.

            “Get this: at the last Spanish General Election, Artur Mas ran for office, and there was no mention of calling a referendum on Catalan independence in his manifesto. Compare and contrast with the SNP…” says Douglas.

            Quite simply wrong. Mas has never been a candidate for election to the Spanish (National) Parliament. Nor, as things stand, will he be such in the coming election on 20th December.

            The platform of Junts pel Sí, led by CDC, was clear on 27th September past in the election for the Generalitat, as both the Catalan Parliament and Government are known, that the aim was independence. And that they planned to make significant steps to that end in the coming 18 months.

            Douglas’s criticism of Mas to the effect that only in recent years has he been an outright nationalist is correct. Or perhaps more to the point his “description” is. Though whether the criticism implicit in it is valid is debatable since Mas replies by saying both that the insistent and increasing inflexibility of Madrid has forced him to this posture and further that he has, as Catalan PM, responded to the will of the public as manifested over several years now, in taking this route.

            Douglas vehemently criticises the decision of the Catalan Parliament to push for independence when the votes in the Parliament are only 72:63 in their favour i.e. 53.33% of seats in their favour and based on 47.8% of the popular vote;though very importantly with roughly 13% of the vote not falling unambiguously into either the pro- or the anti- camp since one of the large parties running refused to adopt either position.

            Apparently he does this without reflecting on the fact that when the SNP engaged with Mr Cameron after the 2011 they had a 69:60 majority of seats (viz 53.48% of seats in their favour) and with a clearly inferior figure of 44.7% of the vote in their favour if we take a mean of the figures in the 2 lists. And in circumstances where it was clear beyond peradventure that the remaining 55.3% supported unionist parties.

            I wonder whether, on the day that Cameron signed over the right to hold a referendum to Salmond, Douglas opined “they are tarnishing democratic, civic nationalism with unconstitutional politics which effectively ignores the wishes of 55.3% of Scotland” ?

            “Yes, it´s that petty…” which Douglas exclaims, presumably in frustration, over the use of the word “nationality” in Spain is, for me at least, a less than clear exposition. Yet, paradoxically it goes to the heart of the dispute.

            Nobody of importance in the UK argued “Scotland is not a legitimate nation which cannot leave the UK unless there is a UK wide referendum in which the majority of the UK electorate votes to give Scotland permission to leave.” But that in a nutshell is what the Spanish Constitution says and thus is the kernel of what the current Catalan imbroglio is about.

            There is no doubt that the situation in Catalonia is of a complexity which makes the Scottish situation seem like childs play. But the insistence of the Madrid government on, for instance, forcing an allegedly-independent judicial authority equivalent to the Scottish Procurator Fiscal’s Office to arraign PM Mas for the outrageous crime of placing cardboard polling boxes in schools the length and breadth of Catalonia one Sunday now exactly 12 months ago does indicate that their concept of democracy is not without very significant flaws.

            To his credit, the Chief Fiscal, forced to do the government’s dirty work above, did resign. But only after “following superior orders.”

          2. duncan says:

            Douglas, Spain is traditionally a Catholic country, so it’s not a surprise their conservative party is Catholic. I don’t know how you get to fanatical catholic Spanish nationalists? does that mean Scottish Nationalist are also fanatical?

  5. Ian Brooksbank says:

    We must congratulate the Catalonian people, who, like us Scots want to have democratic control of their own land, and thus be able to live in a community where their true values can be expressed, rather than living in the control of an authoritarian regime that is organised for the benefit of the rich few, and elected by an electorate who think the nation state will look after their interests. You only need to look at england now, to see a country where the government is betraying the people, selling out to nations such as China, whose values are anathema to british people, undermining our hard gained civil rights law, dismantling our social security system, our health service and our pensions law. The new honest politics of Scotland and Catalonia offer us hope, but the fight is long and we cannot afford to be naive or irresolute.

  6. Gordon McShean says:

    I joined the SNP in 1948, when I was 12, and was privileged to have National Secretary, Robert Curran, as a personal friend. He was at odds with other SNP leaders who were adamant in promoting “honest politics.” He said privately that Scots were unlikely to gain independence within another 100 years, as their tactics were laughed at by the English. He and I had to leave Scotland after the Coronation because the English laughter – in our case – had turned into persecution (described in my book RETIRED TERRORIST). I regret to have to make the observation from my continuing place of exile that he has been proved right – and hope political idealists will not similarly succeed in sabotaging the Catalonian independence initiative.

  7. Big Jock says:

    Remember Madrid refused Catalonia an independence referendum. The Catalans are not mad or undemocratic. Madrid is bullying Catalonia and UDI is at present their only option.

    As bad as the Tories and UK are. At least we got our referendum. What Catalonia has that we don’t is a media that sticks up for Catalonia. Sure the rest of Spains media is right wing anti Catalonia. But Catalonias media are not doing Madrids work for it.

    1. Douglas says:

      “Madrid refused the Catalans a referendum…”….another simplification Jock.

      The Spanish Constitution states that Spain is “indivisible”. It allows for “consultations” as I recall it, but not a binding referendum. It is a written Constitution, and just like the French Constitution, it does not allow for the possible break up of Spain.

      So, if you want to change the situation, you have to change the Constitution…a long, slow process to be sure, but ultimately, the only credible way to proceed. And if you believe in the independence of a country, I mean really believe in it as opposed to taking advantage of political circumstances, then ultimately a few more years is not important.

      What is not at all credible is this: Artur Mas, the man who the the other day paved the way for a unilateral declaration of Catalan independence, was not in favour of independence even four years ago! I mean, call me old fashioned, but that is simply not credible. He blows any which way the wind blows.

      And it´s not just me who thinks like that. The CUP, the radical left pro-indie Catalan party, refuse to vote in, Mas as president of the autonomous government, so he can´t be sworn in at the moment because he doesn´t have the votes, for all that the pro indie forces have a majority in the Catalan parliament. .

      The CUP refused to join the platform Junts Pel Si (Yes for YES) because, in part of Artur Mas. The CUP, you can agree with or disagree with, but they have a coherent and consistent position. They don´t want to be in the Euro or the EU, they believe in a Catalan Republic of the pays Catalas…their position is based on a set of principles they have held for years and years and years. I respect the CUP, I don´t respect Artur Mas…

      1. Jim Scott says:

        Douglas, like most commentators, tells us:

        “The CUP, you can agree with or disagree with, but they have a coherent and consistent position.”

        How then does he square the circle that the current leader of CUP in the Generalitat, Senyor Baños asserted, live on television within half an hour of the current parliamentary configuration there becoming clear, words to the effect that “with only 47.8% of the vote clearly in favour of the independence option,” there was nothing doing on that front in the foreseeable future. An assertion which echoed explicitly the words of the previous leader of the CUP, Senyor Fernández, a few days before when he ruminated that “without roughly 55% support in the plurality,” moves towards independence were unsustainable. Yet somehow, as if by magic, or as if under the power of the dictatorship of the proletariat perhaps, by the very next morning the current mantra of “anyone who doesn’t want to man the independence barricades right now is a cissie” was the only hymn-sheet available in Poble-CUP?

        Certainly I think that George Orwell would see through the CUP’s juvenile leftist posturing, even if Douglas doesn’t.

        In passing, it is strange to note that Douglas accepts the need for the Catalans to change the Spanish Constitution before holding a referendum. Am I right in thinking that for this to be “a coherent and consistent position” he must also assert that the recent Scottish referendum was illegitimate due to its failure to afford to rUK the power of veto to an independence movement in Scotland which the Spanish Constitutuion ascribes, in the case of Catalonia, to culoEspanya?

        1. Douglas says:

          Jim, I´ll pay you the courtesy of addressing you directly as opposed to patronizing you in the third person.

          I wouldn´t dare to try to work out the machinations of any Spanish politician, Jim, I have a very low opinion of them all, without exception almost, so I can´t offer you an answer on the shenanigans in the Catalan parliament yesterday.

          Yes, of course the Ciu was an alliance between two parties, a very corrupt alliance it would appear.

          I´m not a supporter of the CUP or Catalan independence – I´m a Republican Federalist. I respect it is a political position, and I respect the CUP a lot more than Artur Mas, which was my point. Artur Mas is a political clown, a chancer and a careerist who was the appointed heir and successor of the Pujol mafia. I detest the Ciu mafia as much as I detest the PP mafia in Madrid. What´s the difference? The flag…

          As you know, today, three days after paving the way for UDI – completely without precedent in post war Europe with the exception of the Balkans – three days after announcing the intention of a number of proposed bills to go through the Catalan parliament once a government is formed – to create an exchequer, tax, social security – Mas can´t even marshal the votes to form an administration.

          How brilliant is that? A political genius, to be sure. Most probably, there will have to be another election, a repeat of the last election on 27S, if he can´t convince the CUP to back him tomorrow…

          …if Mas believed in a minute in Catalan independence to the same degree as Salmond or Sturgeon do in Scottish independence, he would have walked away and negotiated another candidate to replace himself. It´s all about Artur Mas…

          What have Junts Pel Si achieved? Almost certainly another PP majority on December the 20th. Why didn´t they just shut up until January? Because it suits them, the never ending barny between the PP´s rancid Spanish nationalism and Catalan nationalism is a vote winner for both of them.

          The key differences between the cases of Scotland and Catalonia are the following.
          A) We were never defeated militarily as the Catalans were in 1715 by Felipe V – the first Bourbon king who centralised Spain and abolished the Catalan cortes in emulation of France.
          B) We have an international binding Treaty voted through the Scottish parliament in 1707 which is an integral part of the British Constitution.
          C) We do not have a written Constitution in one document like they do in Spain. That makes for a flexible political environment for better of for worse. If you have a written Constitution like France, Spain or America, it is legally binding. You can´t just decide it is not applicable, and certainly not without a convincing majority of voters after all constitutional avenues have been exhausted, which cannot be said of the case of Catalonia. The constitutional context is totally different in the cases of the two countries.
          D) There was never a country in the history of the world called Catalonia. There was the Kingdom of Aragon, and there was the condado de Barcelona. But the independent Catalonia being proposed just now has never existed, ever. Not so in the case of Scotland, whose borders have remained unchanged for centuries.
          E) As a direct result of that, the borders of what Catalonia could be as an independent country are debatable.
          F) Spanish democracy is not as mature a democracy as the UK.

          For all its faults, the Spanish Constitution has seen the most stable, prosperous and progressive 40 years in the history of Spain. Reform the Constitution, yes. You can´t just ignore it and declare UDI, much less when the man leading that process is a recent convert to the cause of independence….

          1. Jim Scott says:

            Douglas’s highlighting of the contrast between the strength apparently exhibited by the Generalitat in asserting on Monday 9th November its willingness to go for independence and the weakness of its failing for a second time on Thursday 12th November to appoint a PM is well made. Very well made, I would say.

            His insistence on the inapropriatenes of the move to break with the exisiting Spanish Constitution is however less convincing, in my opinion. To put it bluntly, they have little option given that the exisiting PP government in Madrid is resolutely hostile and that the most likely outcome of the coming general election will be either a PSOE-Ciudadanos coalition or a PP-Ciudadanos coalition. Whereas the former would be equally as hostile to Catalan aspirations for independence as the current PP-only government, the latter would be significantly more hostile still.

            Douglas bases his central argument against Catalan independence on the provisions of the Spanish Constitution. Catalan nationalists base their case for independence on the UN declaration on the right to self-determination whereby “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

            I was wrong in my previous supposition that Douglas is sympathetic to Scottish independence but I note that he has made a close study of the existence and of the absence of parallels between the case of Scotland/UK and of Catalonia/Spain. Whilst my position would be to say that the analogy is in the final analysis faulty and ultimately inappropriate, for reasons I will explain later, I will address some of the “key differences” which he outlines.

            Douglas makes much of the fact that Scotland was not defeated militarily before incorporation into the union which is also what I was taught. I however was taught also that it was defeated economically and indeed was on its uppers due to the failure of the Darrien Project in current day Panama when it sued for incorporation. Is economic defeat less significant than military defeat in the context?

            Douglas asserts that there was never a country called Catalonia but that it was incorporated into the Crown (not the “Kingdom”) of Aragon. As Prof Norman Davies requires 84 closely argued pages to disentangle the entrails of this “Crown,” I for one do not feel qualified to refute Douglas’s assertion in a few lines. I will however quote the words of one contemporary and ofen cited authority which says “Put in contemporary terms, it has sometimes been considered that the different lands of the Crown of Aragon (mainly the Kingdom of Aragon, the Principality of Catalonia and the Kingdom of Valencia) functioned more as a confederation than as a single kingdom.”

            Finally Douglas makes much of the simplicity of defining the borders of Scotland over against those of Catalonia. Whilst I take his point, and remind him, tongue fairly firmly in cheek, that CUP places the southern border of their vision of Catalonia to the south of Alicante, I wonder whether similar considerations would lead Douglas to deny the authenticity and the right to exist of, say Poland? Or for that matter Germany?

            To return to my earlier point, even though yet another Catalan professor has published a book this month trying to tease out the analogies between the Scottish case and the Catalan case, at heart the exercise is doomed to failure, I believe, since the true analogy must surely be with the attempts by the Irish to break free from the UK at the end of the 19th century.

            In raising this comparison, it seems essential to highlight that not a single window has been broken in the Catalan struggle for independence. As well as to echo PM Mas’s bitter recrimination against the 2 main Spanish political parties, PP and PSOE, both of whom he correctly asserts have been willing in the past to sit down and to negotiate with ETA terrorists who murdered and bombed to achieve their political objectives yet both of which parties resolutely refuse to engage in dialogue with the resolutely pacific Catalans.

            (In using the 3rd person, I hope it is obvious that I mean no disrespect to anyone. Quite simply this was always presented to me as the most civilised form of public debate; debate which I was taught and believe is not a private conversation.)

  8. Douglas says:

    Jim, fair enough, you´re right, each person should express themselves on these forums as they see fit.

    Firstly, the list of differences I make above between the cases of Scotland and Catalonia should not be taken to mean I consider Catalan independence an illegitimate or crazy or untenable political position. It is perfectly legitimate, and it could be done, but it has to be done in a certain way, and to have any legitimacy, it must have the backing of the majority of Catalans over a sustained period of time. I am not in favour of it myself for the very reason that you mention – the territorial aspirations of certain pro indie Catalan forces – which an independent Catalonia will exacerbate rather than help, and given the multi-national make up of Spain, I prefer a federal solution rather than Balkanization.

    There have been two Catalan referendums now, one unofficial one, organized by indie activists, and another one, semi-official, organized by Artur Mas as President del Govern who, cynically and opportunistically took advantage of the referendum which the SNP had secured after 80 years of patient, serious, democratic campaigning and lobbying – a time scale which allowed the idea of indie to percolate down through the whole of British society – which no doubt had something to do with why PM Rajoy made an explicit address against Scottish independence on the 18S, saying that Spain would block an indie Scotland´s entry into the EU, on the very morning of our vote…

    You´re right when you point out that Mas”did not run for office” in 2011, but the point is that the corrupt party he led at the time did run at the Spanish General Elections in 2011 and there was no mention of a referendum in the Ciu´s election manifesto…When did Artur Mas decide he wanted a referendum? When he saw the Edinburgh Agreement being signed, and not much after he and his corrupt, draconian neo-liberal right wing government had to be air-lifted by helicopter out of the Catalan parliament because it was surrounded by furious Catalan citizens who were protesting against the savage austerity cuts his government has imposed on them…

    There was also 27S, the autonomous elections of 2015 for which the Junts Pel Si platform was formed, and was cast by pro-indie forces as a plebiscite on Catalan independence, in lieu of an official referendum sanctioned by the Spanish State.

    So, three “referenda” in about three years and not one of these did the pro independence forces reach 50% of the popular vote. So where is evidence today that the majority, much less the overwhelming majority of Catalans, want independence? And to declare UDI, under any sane analysis, you would need a sizeable majority, if not an overwhelming majority. So what are Junts Pel Si playing at?

    We were promised “full devo max” in the Vow on the eve of the referendum. Only 9% of Scottish voters believe the Vow has been delivered. According to the logic you espouse, the SNP should be declaring UDI today then? “Full devo max” is basically the same thing as the Estatut which the Constitutional Court watered down, just as the Tories have watered down the Vow. The key Catalan aspiration was and is full fiscal autonomy, because they say they pay more in than they get back out – I have no idea whether that is the case or not, it depends on which paper you read, but let me say, as a reason for independence, I think it niggardly to say the least. The Catalans have a superiority complex. They are just as corrupt as the rest of Spain, as we are seeing, and just as right-wing.

    As for the Constitution and the UN backed right to self-determination….well, the latter is something of a canard. The right to self-determination is a provision for peoples whose rights are being violated. So, the case of Kosovo say, or Palestine. Under no serious analysis can the civil rights of the people of Catalonia be said to have been violated.

    Do you think that UN paragraph covers the case of the break-away forces in the Ukraine, or if Corsica declared indie tomorrow from France the UN would side with Corsica? The UN is made up of nation states. Spain is a democracy governed under the rule of law, a Catalan has exactly the same rights as any other Spaniard.

    The Catalan parliament has more powers than Holyrood, and Catalan culture is in a rude state of health with international centres all over the world to promote Catalan language and culture. Catalan is the vehicular language used by teachers in every school in Catalonia, for all subjects. Where is the “oppression” exactly? Compare and contrast to Scotland, where are two national languages are allowed to lapse and fall into disuse by an SNP government who view any defence of the national culture as a whimsical, eccentric cranky idea not to be taken seriously….

    There is no justification for UDI unless a) you have a sizeable majority over a sustained period of time B) You have exhausted ALL of the constitutional avenues open, and again, over a sustained period of time, because governments change. Or C) The civil rights of the nation or people in question are being violated.

    As for your comparison with Ireland, frankly, it is ludicrous. Catalonia is the richest part of Spain. Ireland was an English colony for 800 years. Catalonia has never, for one day, been a colony of Castile.

    The next thing you will be telling me is that the Spanish Civil War was a actually a war about Catalan independence, which is a lie, a falsehood and perversion currently being peddled by the pro indie Catalan press and state broadcaster TV3 who churn out pro-indie propaganda to exactly the same degree and with the same utter contempt for the truth as the PP controlled state broadcaster TVE does in favour of Spanish nationalism….


    1. Jim Scott says:

      Douglas expresses 2 major strategic objections to the Catalan independence project. He says that it lacks “the backing of the majority of Catalans over a sustained period of time…” in clear contrast to the “the referendum which the SNP … secured after 80 years of patient, serious, democratic campaigning and lobbying …” and that it is founded on a UN provision appropriate to “peoples whose rights are being violated. So, the case of Kosovo say, or Palestine. Under no serious analysis can the civil rights of the people of Catalonia be said to have been violated.”

      But the contrast in the first case with Scotland is by no means as clear cut or as favourable to Scotland as he seeks to portray. His contempt for Artur Mas’s conversion to full blown independence clouds his judgement on the history of Catalonia and of Catalan nationalism. This includes in the last 150 years landmarks such as the Renaixença from 1868 onwards, the Mancomunitat starting in 1914 and the declaration of the Catalan Republic in 1934. My point is not that all these are equally positive, commendable or valuable moves but rather that, contrary to Douglas’s implication, they do exist and indeed they are but a minute part of Catalan history which Douglas appears to set at nought. Just as he seemed earlier to set the country at nought.

      More recently and closer to home, when did the SNP ever achieve the 47.8% clear support which the 2 pro-independence party/ platforms achieved here in late September? Logically, from his comments, Douglas must assert that the recent Scottish referendum was clearly illegitimate.

      Douglas previously contrasted the status of Scotland within the UK, -there by international treaty incorporated into the (often little more than mythical) British Constitution- with the status of Catalonia within Spain –incoporated there by force of arms after the Siege of Barcelona in 1714.-

      But what is a “colony” if not a conquered territory? Does the UN convention in question preclude colonial status based on geographical continguity?

      Sadly, Douglas’s assertion that “Catalan culture is in a rude state of health with international centres all over the world to promote Catalan language and culture. Catalan is the vehicular language used by teachers in every school in Catalonia, for all subjects…..” highlights the limits of his knowledge.

      Three points will serve to substantially undermine this rosey view, I believe:

      In June 2012 the Autonomous Government of Aragon proclaimed officially thet the language spoken in the extreme east of its region i.e in “La Franja,” bordering on Catalonia, which is Catalan, will no longer be called “Catalan” but must in future be called “The Aragonese Language specific to the Eastern Area.” Small beer obviously, but not by any means as positive a status for Catalan as Douglas suggests.

      Only a few months later, the then Spanish Minister of Education, Señor Wert asserted in the Spanish Parliament that his intention was”to make Catalan children more Spanish…” again, not at all what Douglas asserts and this time from a much more significant source nationally within Spain than a mere autonomous parliament.

      But most important of all, contrary to Douglas’s firm assertion that “Catalan is the vehicular language used by teachers in every [state] school in Catalonia…” the law insists that 1 single parent/ family in any state school can demand that 25% of lesson time uses Castilian (= Spanish) as the vehicular language. A provision which is increasingly used and which is nothing remotely like what Douglas tells us.

      1. Douglas says:

        Jim, your tone is patronising, I don´t want to engage with you any longer. I read the papers in Spanish and Catalan most days. Any ground I don´t cover you decide is a sign of ignorance. I don´t think I have reflected an opinion of yourself which is remotely comparable…

      2. Douglas says:

        By the way Jim Scott, were you not an academic or I did I dream that?

        “Purveyors of fractional learning” Ezra Pound called them, pedants and bores and of course, entirely up their own anuses….

  9. Jim Alexander says:

    So Catalunya declares UDI

    1. There Currency will be what

    2.There Membership of Europe is no longer – No way a Region who declares UDI will ever get Membership

    3.There Bankrupt Financial System will be underwritten by whom

    4.Those who want to remain Spanish ie the Majority are supposed to simply say No Problemo – lets leave Spain against my wishes ?

    5.They will trade with whom – Europe – South America – USA – no chance – these Major Trading Blocs wont touch them

    6.The Spanish Government are supposed to sit back and let the Catalan Nationalists ignore the Constitution and the Majority of the Population off Catalunya and do nothing – seriously ?

    So what happens when the Majority in Catalunya demand the Madrid Govt takes action ?

    These people are insane and those wishing them well haven’t the first idea of what’s going on in Catalunya – waving Flags – mass rallies and lots of Yes Posters doesn’t mean you have the Majority – people should start remembering that – Catalunya like Scotland has a Silent Majority – they think – they decide – they Vote

    That doesn’t mean they are less Nationalistic – Cowards – Selfish – they just balance up the argument and decide what the think is best for the Country.

    The Catalan Nationalist’s ( a bit like the Yes Campaign ) Big On Flags – short on reasoned and logical argument.

    This will end in Tears for Catalunya and have a negative impact for the Yes Campaign in Scotland –

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