Thoughts on Scotland, Catalonia, democracy and charm

I have my own ideas and feelings about whether Catalonia should be an independent state, and I am fully aware that other Catalans may think and feel differently than I do. We all have our reasons.

This week we have seen the Scots vote on whether Scotland should become independent. The majority voted no. As someone who is in favour of the independence of Catalonia I can only begin to imagine how it must feel to be among the 45% of the Scots who voted yes. They were so close.

As a long-time resident in England, I have followed with admiration the way in which, soon after the Scottish National Party came into power with a mandate to seek a referendum on independence, the British Parliament announced that there would be a referendum, and ensured that it would be a legally binding one.

The attitude in Westminster was to accept the democratic challenge and use all its strength to persuade, with a mixture of economic-scare-tactics and charm offensive. Apparently after one poll showed that the Yes may win, there was a Scottish flag flying in Downing street.

When the result of the referendum was announced, David Cameron stood outside Downing street and proudly stated “I am a democrat”.

The contrast with the Spanish government’s attitude towards the Catalans is astounding. All the Spanish government can say is that the Spanish constitution, which was written in the context of ensuring that the heirs of Franco’s military dictatorship did not block the transition to democracy, does not allow a referendum on independence.

Constitutions are supposed to be the basis for a democratic state, not a block to democracy. If Spain cannot behave in a democratic manner because of its Constitution, then surely that piece of legislation is not fit for the purpose it is supposed to serve.

As well as the legality issue, the Spanish Government assures that it would block membership of the European Union to an independent Catalonia. One does wonder whether the Spanish Government properly belongs in a Union of democratic states. And whether it is reasonable that in the twenty-first century a nation in the European Union has no access to peaceful and democratic means of self-determination.

Who knows, given the choice, the Catalans may even do like the Scots. But that would require the Spanish government to deploy some charm to the Catalans for a change.

Picture taken from Twitter, apologies I could not trace the author, showing some of the over 1.5 million Catalans who lined up in Barcelona forming a giant V for Voting and democratic Victory, while creating a human mosaic of the Catalan flag.


One thought on “Thoughts on Scotland, Catalonia, democracy and charm

  1. I could not agree more and I wonder how long the European Union will be able to ignore this very undemocratic attitude of the Spanish government. We Catalans would certainly be shocked to find out that the Balkan states are able to join the EU after fighting terrible wars and that we are not even able to vote in order to decide our political future in spite of behaving in an absolutely democratic and peaceful way. Shame on the EU if they just treat this matter as an “internal affair” of the Spanish Government.
    The Spanish Government treats Catalonia like a colony. For the last three decades we have been suffering a fiscal deficit between 8% and 12% of our GDP due to a constant and heavy underinvestment by the Spanish government (no other region in the developed world suffers from such a high fiscal deficit – this is colonial exploitation) and our culture and language, after 40 years of genocide during the Franco dictatorship, are now again being increasingly suppressed. Now the vast social majority of Catalans is determined to stand up for an independent Catalonia and the Spanish government is obviously very scared. In their own interest, the EU should make sure that we Catalans are able to vote and achieve independence. This would allow Catalonia to increase their wealth more rapidly and would also push the Spanish government to introduce very necessary reforms in order to force other Spanish regions to become net contributors to the Spanish economy, after decades of constant subventions (in that respect the situation is Spain is very similar to Italy, where the wealthy north is sustaining a heavily subsidised south).
    Nice picture! I was there…

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