Crackdown in Catalonia

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It looks as if the government in Madrid is succeeding in shutting down enough of the voting in the independence referendum in Catalonia today as to make it impossible to treat any vote count as being sufficiently representative as to be valid. Recall that the central government has already interfered in the vote by seizing ballots and taking the unprecedented step of arresting the officials who organized the elections. News reports say the police are confiscating more ballots (replacements? or one that they hadn’t seized in earlier raids?)

Turnout is critical to whether the vote today can be seen as legitimate from a political, as opposed to legal, perspective.

Citizens in Catalonia are left with the question of “What next?” Polls indicated that only a minority backed a referendum that the central government did not support, but the aggressiveness of the crackdown has increased sympathy for the separatists. But how much has it moved opinion in Catalonia overall? And does the Catalan government have any chess moves other than the nuclear option of defaulting on its debt, which would trigger a default on the national debt and produce a financial crisis?

Due to the hour, plus the fact that Spanish language reports are likely to be more complete, forgive me for providing only this update from the Financial Times, which is currently the lead story:

Spanish police disrupted polling places across Catalonia on Sunday morning, with widespread reports that authorities were using rubber bullets to disperse crowds, as many people sought to vote in an independence referendum the country’s constitutional court has ruled illegal.

Just before voting was scheduled to begin at 9am local time, police confiscated voting papers and ballot boxes in Barcelona and fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds at the Ramon Llull school in the city, according to local media.

In the town of Sant Julià da Ramis, some 60 national police forcibly removed voters and demonstrators from the polling place where Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was scheduled to vote.

As they dragged away voters who had locked arms in front of the Sant Julià da Ramis polling station, the assembled crowd chanted “Votarem” — ”We will vote.”

The vote threatens to trigger one of the gravest political and constitutional crises in Spain’s 40-year-old democracy.

Elsewhere in Catalonia there were reports of voting happening peacefully, with the 17,000 strong local police force apparently being less interventionist in stopping the voting at certain stations. They have orders to stop voting, but not provoke unrest…

In an attempt to sidestep facilitate the referendum — which Madrid says violates the Spanish constitution’s description of the country as “indivisible” — Catalan authorities have announced that voters can cast their ballot in any part of the region. Poll workers have been asked to download a new smartphone app to verify that each voter has only voted once…

On Saturday, police said they had already sealed off more than half of the 2,315 schools in Catalonia designated as polling stations, with a top Spanish official in Catalonia saying voting would not go ahead….

The 17,000 strong Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, are in the middle of a tug of war between Barcelona and Madrid.

They are duty-bound to obey the Spanish courts and try and prevent the referendum taking place. But senior Catalan officials have said they will place a higher priority on maintaining public order than stopping voting.

The tactic of forming large crowds initially appeared successful; when two Mossos officers arrived at the Verd school in Girona, about 100 kilometres north-east of Barcelona, they asked to enter and, when denied, quickly left to applause from a crowd of some 150 people….

The participation level will have a strong impact on the weight given to a referendum, ruled illegal by the Spanish constitutional court, in which a majority of pro-secession votes has long been assumed…

The outcome of the referendum will have major implications for the country. Spain’s centre-right government has staked its reputation on preventing the vote, which it feared could bring political and constitutional crisis. 

Catalan’s regional government, elected in 2015, has said that it would declare independence within 48 hours of a Yes vote, regardless of the turnout. 

They could take the extreme step of declaring unilateral independence. This could in turn force the Spanish state to step in and temporarily suspend Catalan autonomy, taking Madrid into uncharted constitutional territory.

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  1. Ignacio

    Stupidity is reaching fresh highs by the most stupid political leaders ever in our young democracy including all involved: stupid Rajoy, stupid Puigdemont, stupid Mas…

    F@ck them all!!!

    1. Piotr K.

      Yeeah, and EU officials still threat repercusions on Poland as a major rule-braker. What’s the stronger synonymous for hippocracy?

      1. Sid_finster

        Barcelona is the “wrong” kind of democracy, because the EU establishment approves of Madrid, but not Brussels.

        Law and consistency have nothing to do with it.

  2. madarka

    I am in Catalonia right now. The mood is resolute, excited. The locals call it independence day. People went to the voting stations at 5am, because the police had orders to disrupt the voting stations at 6. I took a walk last night through Barcelona: lots of flags, Si! banners, pro independence graffiti & posters, everything.

    This genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

    1. Ignacio

      Yes, but by the way they and you are ignoring those that don’t go to vote and do not declare independence day. Everybody is loosing rigth now. Loosing their temper, loosing good reason. Definitely all is wrong. This is not the way. Admittedly Rajoy has painted himself in a corner, but catalonian leaders as well.

      1. madarka

        I am an outsider in this, an observer who only arrived last night. I am afraid that you are right, and this is just creating new, more intractable problems: who can back down now? This was not the way, and everything is now up in the air.

        As regards the no voters, or the fence sitters… well, I am just writing what I saw, and I have seen none so far.

  3. Basil Pesto

    This is as disconcerting as it is unnecessary. All those in Catalunya, however you vote or whomever you vote for, I hope you’re safe.

    1. Sue

      Vey long lines. Catalans waiting for hours to cast their votes outside the polling stations. I just talked to a polling station coordinator and most of the voting delays are caused by the cat and mouse game of having to restore-get back working again and again- the internet and computer systems disabled by the police. I just talked to a voter who cast her vote 5 min ago. It took her 4 hours to do it

  4. Jesus Martinez

    Hi all
    Today is the day.
    From what I have read and conversations with people back in Catalonia: participation is going to be massive. We are just hours away (although that may easily become days, given the logistical constraints) from knowing real figures, so I think it is pointless to be discussing guesses. Regarding the last few days:
    1.Just today I read a detail that softened me like no other has in the last few weeks: Fundació Arrels, an NGO that works with homeless people was reporting unprecedented numbers of homeless people asking for information on how to vote.
    2.There are videos of people (relatively small numbers, I wouldn’t call them crowds) in several provinces in Spain sending off the Guardias Civiles destined to Catalonia to stop the referendum with Franco-era Spanish flags and shouting “Go get them!”. We, seasoned pro-independence partisans, took them as given, but those images (that come on top of the police display of the last ten days) seem to have sent many Spain-born Catalan citizens in deep disarray. As a strict record/document, those videos speak only of the people chanting those words, but they were widely broadcast by Spanish media and properly framed to convey a clear warning message.
    3.My brother, the quintessential fence-sitter, who some months ago told me that he was thinking to vote for Ciudadanos (Unionist, neoliberal, and oxymoronically anti-corruption and pro-establishment at the same time: basically a guarantee of Lampedusian change), just yesterday sent me a video about a book by Albert Pont, a most rabid pro-independence partisan, about Spanish infrastructure spending as a huge scam benefiting only the Madrid elites.
    4.The Catalan government has pulled a trick that may be a big, big thing: there will be a proper electoral roll, and it will be what they called a Universal Census. Usually, a person’s name and details are only to be found in the lists in the polling station where he/she would vote. This time around people will, apparently, be able to get their identity checked and to vote in any polling station. This is a big, big thing. And it is biggest where it would most hurt the Spanish government: in Unionist-land, the mainly Spanish-speaking belt around Barcelona: over there activism was not going to cut it and since the opening of polling stations was going to depend on activism, there was a serious risk of people not being able to vote. Now they can just take the subway and vote somewhere else. I am from that area. Trust me here, if people there can vote they will vote in big numbers, many of them against independence, but they will vote. If all arrangements work according to plan, participation is going to be very high. Participation is in itself a defeat for Rajoy’s government.
    5.At the moment, the Catalan government has all the credibility (they said that there would be a vote, and there is going to be one; that there would be an electoral roll, and there is one; that there would be ballot boxes and they are in the polling stations (with a very classical Catalan government logo on them); we haven’t seen the ballots yet, but it seems that there is no issue about them. That credibility means a stronger Catalan position from next week, which would be the obverse of the Spanish government’s position. The expressions on the faces of Spanish officials are going to be glorious fun.

    Regarding the Spanish government’s actions:
    1.I think that the hard-liners took over control two weeks ago but they seem to have vanished now. They overdid it, and the civic reaction has set limits to their actions. I may be wrong, but my impression is that it was a big bluff that would only work if people didn’t react and international reactions were late and lame. They are in retreat now. That is my hope at least. I perceived a changed tone (even in the Spanish media) after the UN statement that Sue mentioned in comments first. It seems to have been a watershed that has changed the game (although there is no public acknowledgement of that, of course). It is not only that they have met the limits of what they can do. It is that they have actually overstretched badly: many of the actions of the last ten days are illegal according to the Spanish law, and I think that if the conflict is not resolved quickly at a political level we are going to see appeals at the European Court of Justice that are going to have damning consequences for Spain.
    2.Their plans for after the vote: no bloody idea. I think that they just plan to sit and wait until all this goes away. I know it sounds insane, but that is my impression. Their only option was that people would shit their pants and not vote. I think that their tactics may be to be nicer to the Catalan government from now on and to keep on saying no to everything. Honestly, I can’t see a single idea in Moncloa (site of the Spanish government offices) regarding this conflict. And, objectively, all options beyond the status quo are horrible for them.

    Catalan side:
    1.Even if the referendum is a big victory (we’ll see that in a few hours: there are reports of police trying to stop the vote, but they seem to be limited to a few polling stations, and if so they would be just for the show), the refusal of the Spanish government to anything more than five-o’clock-tea kind of conversations is going to leave our government in a tricky situation. Madrid has control of the tax spigot, and a couple of days ago Puigdemont, the Catalan PM ruled out a unilateral declaration of independence. So it seems that the Catalan government seems open to negotiations, but things being as they are now means that the Spanish government has the upper hand in specific issues, even if we are politically reinforced by today’s vote. And Madrid may accept negotiations about certain things, but independence is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER going to be in any agenda that they accept to discuss.
    2.I think that a unilateral declaration of independence is a huge risk that might backfire, and that at the moment we should focus on solidifying the support for independence gained these last two weeks. But then, I read opinions by patronisingly reasonable, law-abiding, never-break-a-thing bastards repeating that such a declaration would be a disaster and I think: that’s probably the thing to do, then.

    On a more general note, and out of a certain sense of guilt about my (very long) posts possibly being too parochial for most of you, two reflections on mechanisms of cultural/social/political dominance that have occurred to me these days:
    1.In an essay (on education, I think), Bertrand Russell, discussing literacy, made the point that the aim of both the Church and the State was to control the masses; but that the interests of the Church were better served when people were illiterate, whereas the interests of the State are better served when people are literate. These days I have seen (it is definitely a subjective impression) among people who are well-informed, who read the newspaper and who would claim to have an idea of how the world works (what we would call serious people), a distinct bias towards being more scared, doubting themselves more (they were all pro-independence) and being certain that there would be no vote; on the other hand, less-informed people would plainly say that yes, there would be a vote and were showing more indignation than fear. If today there is a big turnout and the vote proceeds normally, Russell’s words would be vindicated big time. And I am afraid that I would have to include myself in the list of informed dupes :-(
    2.The second comment is about expert opinion: in this Catalonia-Spain debate the official definition of expertise is: words by someone with the proper academic/intellectual capacities who is against independence. They can be rabidly against, make displays of reasonably-sounding third-way opinions (yes, there is a third-way in this debate and it is as bogus as the Blairite one) , they may consider independence as an exercise of sheer fantasy that inevitably crumbles down in the face of reality, or they may be exquisitely equidistant. But they must never, never, show a solid preference for independence. The moment they do it, they are automatically expelled from the Kingdom of Expertise, and they become partisans. So it can be said without a shade of doubt that no expert supports Catalan independence.


    1. Eclair

      Thank you, Jesus. I find your posts totally fascinating; not too long or parochial in the least, but a window into another culture and into a real time revolutionary movement.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Someone from Spain should educate non-Europeans about “Guardia Civil”. The media is semantically true describing Guardia Civil as “police”. But Guardia Civil are the federal police.

      as an American, I’d describe Guardia Civil as 90% FBI-ICE-ATF + 10% Army Military Police (normally used in Spain as the American-equivalent of state troopers, but Guardia Civil are militarized and used as UN peacekeepers).

      Madrid is essentially using a paramilitary force in Catalonia right now, only one step away from using actual uniformed soldiers. And are at FBI at Waco levels now

      1. Terry Flynn

        First overseas holiday my family had (around 1979) was to a resort in Catalonia and I remember the tour rep warning us about not getting entangled with the Guardia Civil.

      2. Ned

        The Guardia Civil conduct customs, highway patrol, anti-terrorism and rural policing activities. They also are commanded by a general and have been used in Iraq/Afghanistan/North Africa in combat roles. They are responsible to the Ministry of the Interior which is a hand picked position under the thumb of Rajoy.

        There is no independence of action, nor an authentic Constitution nor Bill of Rights that they have to follow like our American military.
        (Oh, sorry about that National Defense Authorization Act signed a few years ago.)

    3. Jim Haygood

      They must never, never, show a solid preference for independence. The moment they do it, they are automatically expelled from the Kingdom of Expertise, and they become partisans.

      Just as it remains beyond the pale here in the Land o’ the Free to observe that Rajoy’s harsh crackdown echoes ol’ A. Lincoln’s reaction when southern folks tried to bail — i.e., beat the peeps to preserve the gunpoint “union.”

      California libre! :-)

      1. Louis Fyne

        government can only rule with the consent of the governed.

        if this was Russia, DC would be telling Rajoy to respect the will of the people

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is Puerto Rico watching?

        Is San Juan watching?

        Are Native American Tribes in various reservations watching?

        Is Guam watching?

        California is probably watching.

      3. Lee

        Here in CA, as with Catalonia and most US blue states, we pay more in federal taxes than we receive so that mostly red states can receive more than they pay. This is in spite of the fact that CA has a higher poverty rate (23.8%) than many of those red state.

        At the same time, here in US, gerrymandering and and our senatorial representation scheme, are moving us toward a situation whereby 30% of the population will have 70% representation in government, and 70% of the population will have 30% representation. So yeah, California Libre!

        1. sleepy

          Here in CA, as with Catalonia and most US blue states, we pay more in federal taxes than we receive so that mostly red states can receive more than they pay.

          I think that statement needs to be taken in the context of decades-long federal policy which has enriched the east and west coasts via financial system subsidies–both statutory via deregulation and financial through outright grift–as well as the largess bestowed on the tech industry and the MIC.

          And on the other side you have many red states decimated by federal policies of deindustrialization and trade.

          So, I think the givers and takers argument is a bit more complex than that.

          I imagine it was always popular in most empires to complain about how the colonies didn’t appreciate how much the mother country gave to them.

          1. Jesse

            Right. This is particularly amusing to me because this morning I read essentially the opposite argument from a right-winger: That Puerto Rico should be denied statehood even if PR wanted it, since they would take in more in benefits than pay in taxes. The idea that a larger and more equal union has its own value didn’t figure into the calculus.

            States wax and wane in power. In 1900, California was less than 2% of the population. It’s entirely possible 100 years from now that states like Iowa or Wisconsin will complain about subsidizing people on the west coast.

            1. Anon

              Well, the issue is political power, not economic power. Today, California has ~11% of the US population, but the same number of Senators as Wisconsin, Nevada, Wyoming, etc. Political power is diluted by the Connecticut Compromise and, during presidential elections, the Electoral College. Time for one person, one vote?

            2. just_kate

              I think the US is just too big at this point for the people to be well served by the government and TPTB so that puts me in the break up camp (I have zero faith more representation would change anything). As a CA citizen who pays full freight taxes I have never seriously cared that my brothers and sisters in those states are getting moar but there have been times the political differences have chapped my hide about it.

            3. Vatch

              from a right-winger: That Puerto Rico should be denied statehood even if PR wanted it, since they would take in more in benefits than pay in taxes.

              Hilarious! Should the statehood of Kentucky and Mississippi be revoked because they are so heavily dependent on the federal government? I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this data, but it seems plausible:


              Note that both California and Illinois, which have well publicized problems with their state pension plans, are both very low in their dependency on the federal government. Perhaps fairness requires that the federal government provide more financial help for those two states.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Will they say, “We will secede you before you can revoke us?” (You don’t revoke us; we secede you…you don’t buy out Moe Greene; Mo buys you out.)

                Of course, humans are like. Break up today, together again tomorrow.

                “Yes, we just joined the club yesterday. But can we split now?”

                And then, we wonder who will preserve the union, some guy in DC, or some guy in Kentucky, this time.

    4. Ned

      Thank you for your summation. We spent a month in Barcelona this summer and 95% of the people we talked to, outside of the massive and lucrative tourism sector, were voting “Yes”.

      “a book by Albert Pont, a most rabid pro-independence partisan, about Spanish infrastructure spending as a huge scam benefiting only the Madrid elites….”
      All along the rail lines one sees the enormous concrete cut and fill tunnel structures that are half finished with corroding rebar. Someone made a lot of money off that. You can’t repossess half finished public works.

      Rajoy is basically a collection agent for the European Central Bank and this is a desperate ploy by them to safeguard their debt collection mechanism.

      What happens when Catalans go on a tax strike, no matter what the outcome of this? Who is going to voluntarily pay taxes to the central government after the central government has sent goons to beat you or your fellow citizens with a baton?

  5. Sue

    Confirmed reports via press, videos and my personal talks with all my numerous Catalan contacts over the phone: police pushed and hurt several old and disabled Catalan citizens causing them injuries. Catalans are peacefully relentless.Despite internet and computer systems being disabled by the police at the polling stations, despite the violence by the Guardia Civil & Policia Nacional, Catalan citizens go inside the stations to cast their votes

  6. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you to Yves and readers.

    I wonder if today and the central government’s reaction will be seen in the same light as the Spanish Fury of 1576, Easter Rising of 1916 etc.

    I am particularly interested in what Plutonium Kun has to say from Dublin. What do the Irish government and public have to say.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks Col., I can’t really add much to whats been said. In Ireland there is a natural sympathy for smaller nations on the Atlantic fringes, so they always get a fairer hearing here and more sympathy (if not actual material support) from society in general. I think most Irish have had their party weekends in Barcelona at some time so are aware generally of the issues.

      But our government here would be very much ideological soulmates with Rajoy (Fine Gael had their ‘blueshirts’ in the 1930’s who were the one contingent from Ireland who supported Franco). But with other things on their plate the government in general would be very reluctant to upset the EU consensus in not being seen to actively support secessionists anywhere in Europe.

      The 1916 comparison is apt. Before the Easter Rising, the majority in Ireland would only have been at best ‘soft’ nationalists – quite happy with some sort of constitutional arrangement short of independence, and there were plenty of quiet royalists. But the brutal response radicalised the general public so even the conservative establishment became overt nationalists (they were, of course, more interested in getting in front of a parade). In the end of course, the conservatives hijacked the revolution and reaped the rewards. Although not in the same order of events, it would seem something similar may be happening in Catalonia.

      (sorry for italics, seems something broken here)

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        I am at the Arc in Chantilly. There’s a big contingent from Ireland. I backed Enable in July. Fingers crossed.

  7. madarka

    At a polling station in Sant Andreu now. The neighborhood has been quiet so far, but messages saying the Guardia Civil was close by came through a while ago. They closed the doors for a few minutes and now are open again. Lots people: elders, families pushing prams, young people. Long queues but not as in the morning.

  8. George Phillies

    As Yves correctly predicted, some time ago, this is a big deal, and will get bigger. Perhaps there is an intelligent solution that will be put into place. Perhaps mammoths will learn to fly. Someone pointed out that Ireland of five decades ago and Iraq of 15 years ago took a year to get under way in a serious manner. The Catalans have an amusing alternative: Relax and enjoy life. Buy and sell less. Let the Catalan contribution to Spanish taxes fall considerably. Elders take a day or two off, and give young people a bit of a job.

  9. Kautsky

    If the Spanish central govt had let the vote take place, it would have failed and that would be an end to it. By pushing back violently, Madrid has lost, whatever the outcome, an act of stupidity. Memories of the right wing abuse of Spain since 1930 are still fresh, it must learn to be a democracy

  10. Yves Smith Post author

    Apologies for the weird state of the post when it launched. I have NEVER had this happen before, but a HTML error made all of my text introduction to the FT article not appear even though it was all there in the backstage! Fixed now.

    Thanks for your patience and the insightful comments.

  11. Kurt Sperry

    Listening to the official rationalizations for the police violence in Barcelona, it’s almost exactly like the abusive husband beating his wife and children and moaning about how it would all be unnecessary if they would just *obey* and not talk back to him. And the craven cowardice of the EU in the face of the gratuitous use of state violence against peaceful protesters by one of their members tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of their commitment to human and citizen rights.

    And why is policing still today considered a respectable profession? Around the world police obediently and reliably do whatever they are ordered to by their corrupt masters, no matter how sadistic and brutal, there is no apparent morality applied at all. Neither personal nor professional standards of conduct apply, only blind obedience and mindless defense of the worst actors among their ranks. Of *course* bullies and sadists will be attracted to join. If their bosses “lawfully” ordered them to brutalize or even to murder innocent women and children, most would doubtless unflinchingly obey and I’d bet a significant minority would actually enjoy it. What other profession outside criminal gangs has no moral standards other than to unquestioningly obey orders? Even soldiers are generally taught to disobey obviously immoral commands.

    1. Anon

      What other profession...

      Ummm…police officers are not a profession. The minimum educational standard is a high school diploma. The Academy from which they “graduate” is P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards & Training.)

      Require a minimum of two years of college and many of the “professionals” would likely do other work.

  12. DJG

    At this time, Avui, one of the Catalan-language newspapers reports 761 wounded. One article maintains that the central government succeeded in shutting down only abou 350 polling stations.

    Rajoy is claiming a victory for democracy.

    1. Sue

      Yes. It has climbed to 840 wounded since your post. International observers signed their reports off and just praised the professionalism and the success of the referendum. They stated they had not ever witnessed such a level of police brutality at elections before..

  13. Ignacio

    All this has been a “sainete” as we say in Spain referring to old popular satiric theater plays except for the injuries and the police action, something that the ruling party has used several times, and not only in Catalonia, against protesters. You now, repressive conservatives. Now we are in a corner. The referendum will be deemed as valid by independentists although there is now way to consider it even nearly democratic.

    I think the next step will be for independentists to declare independence while the central government will act against the regional government and then…who nows, but nothing pretty.

    Some parties are asking Rajoy to start negotiations with independentists (bit too late)

      1. Jesus Martinez

        Hi Ignacio,
        the problems goes far, far beyond Rajoy.
        There is a one-line short story, The Dinosaur, by Augusto Monterroso that reads: “When he woke up the dinosaur was still there.”
        You would find that after Rajoy resigns (or is made to resign), the dinosaur would still be there.

        1. Ignacio

          I know it, Jesus, but still, it is the only good thing I could expect as an outcome. I don’t have high expectations, I know.

  14. Basil Pesto

    Meanwhile, at Camp Nou

    Today’s events are going to kick up some very interesting case law to the ECHR in the fullness of time. I’m not sure modern European human rights jurisprudence has yet dealt with anything quite like this.

  15. Jesus Martinez

    Hi all again
    I am writing from work so this will have to be short:
    1- Thanks to those who appreciated my posts. I feel strongly about the issue and felt compelled to write.
    2- Turnout is expected at just below 60%, with a strong yes vote (an exit poll showed 83%). A big victory for independence.
    3- I don’t know how serious the statement is, but the Catalan President seems keen to submit a declaration of independence to the Catalan Parliament in the next few days. So far, the Catalan government have been walking their talk.
    4-About the violence: honestly, it came as a bit of a surprise to me. When they arrested 17 second-tier officials ten days ago I thought that that was it, it was a warning: if the referendum machine wasn’t stopped they would arrest the government members and the pro-independence MPs. So when that didn’t happen I thought that they had reached a limit to their actions. This police violence may mean that a declaration of independence would trigger something much more serious, and the taking over of Catalan institutions by Madrid. There would be a popular reaction, possibly violent this time around. There is talk of a general strike on Tuesday. And that is tomorrow! Gee, that’s quick!
    5- There are some reactions abroad, but so far Germany, France and the EU are publicly quiet.
    6- I concur that the comparison with the Easter Rising is apt. Even PlutoniumKun’s comment about the conservatives showing up late and then leading the movement may turn out to be true this time around.
    7- The word now is uncertainty, but whenever we have been stuck in this process, the Spanish government has always come up with a blunder that helped us get unstuck. Expect the pattern to be repeated over and over until we become independent!

    Stay tuned!

    1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      I have been tuned into the twitter feed for most of the evening which is basically a horror show. I did feel that there would be trouble but basically all that occurred simply amounts to large scale organised thuggery. It is interesting that there appears to have been clashes between the local police & the civil guard & I was particularly touched by the firefighters human shield, who received a battering which the BBC referred to as being jostled.

      It also reminds me of the tactic used during the last miner’s strike, whereby The London Metropolitan police were sent to Yorkshire where a similar level of thuggery was witnessed. I watched one reaction from a SNP inspector of the voting process, who was scathing in regard to the violence – perhaps it occurred to her that Scotland could find itself in a similar situation.

      1. c_heale

        I did read somewhere on the internet that the Army dressed as police were used in the Miner’s strike…

    2. Zzzz Andrew

      Please continue to indulge your compulsions as long as you have them, this is gripping reading (and Monterroso, unknown to me before, a veritable cherry on top).

    3. Oregoncharles

      And again, thank you.

      The Guardia have set an example of violence.

      Frankly, the whole process is very disturbing to watch from abroad. I feel for Spain and Catalunya both.

    4. Dan

      Even were the 80% of 60% number verifiable or correct, it would not be a “big victory for independence”. if correct, those numbers equate to less than half the voting age population, so hardly to a victory at all. Surely independence requires a majority, or better a supermajority, and some minimal participation in order to respect the rights of minorities …. Of course, here there is no legal framework for the voting and there are no democratic guarantees. The terrible response of the central government does not justify the fraudulent farcical behavior of the Govern.

      We are witnessing two essentially fascist nationalist elements fighting to destroy the society (even if some call themselves leftists, those who wear a flag, whatever flag, are basically fascist in their thinking). Neither government involved wants to take care of anybody, they want problems and chaos, and both loved what happened yesterday because they are corrupt, incompetent clowns playing with fire.

  16. /lasse

    Spain brought in its new public security law on Wednesday [July 2015] limiting freedom of speech and curbing the right to peacefully protest with the introduction of fines ranging between €100 ($111) and €600,000.”

    Anti-democracy gag-laws to quell protests against EU/EZ austerity mandates. EU was silent.
    But Poland and Hungary is “undemocratic” and are threatened with penalties because they obstruct EU mandates.
    Obvious states are all about territories not the people living there. If the people don’t like it, f-off, they are the merely chattels, movable property to the state.

    1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      Yes I remember that law being introduced, & to be honest I think the EU would be happy with Beelzebub being in charge if it helped keep the show on the road.

  17. c_heale

    Apparently under the Zapatero government, Catalonia and Madrid forged a pretty good agreement, which most people were happy with. Unfortunately this was rolled back by the Rajoy administrations, leading us to where we are today. Spanish (not Catalan, just to be clear) friends of mine are of the opinion that both Rajoy and Puigdemont are both extremists and are the cause of the problem.

    1. Oregoncharles

      My blood is already boiling from the videos I’ve seen; I’d guess it’s much worse for Catalans. If they didn’t have a good reason for wanting independence before, they do now.

      A sad day.

  18. Jesus Martinez

    Mariano Rajoy is starting to get support from other heads of state. Kim Jong-Un: “Congratulations, Mariano. There were no executions, but the rest went all very well!”.

    My Russian workmate, after pointing out France’s and Germany’s silence: “Imagine if all this was happening in Russia”.

  19. TedHunter

    So here we are. After Brexit and Trump, Catalonia’s referendum is the third event which has been fueled by anger following the financial crises. Like Brexit, there are rumours that the “winning” side has no clear plan for an eventual victory. If Trump was supported by the right, Catalonia is sustained by the left (and Brexit was most likely by both).

    With all the attention focusing on the smoke, I wonder if there is time to talk about the fire. Which, after all, is still wealth inequality (coming in many shapes and forms to a capital and capital market near you).

    1. Dan

      The Catalan independence movement involves people from all sides of the political spectrum. Part of the coalition (for example, what comes from the old CIU) is very right wing, as socially and economically extremist as the PP that governs nationally.

      Absolutely what has triggered this is the following – most of Spain is fed up with corrupt, incompetent government subservient to bankers and energy companies that is dedicated to diminishing the welfare of ordinary people – in Catalunya there presents itself the utopian solution of starting all over again – it’s an infantile solution – but it’s appealing to the frustrated and desperate. It’s like voting Brexit, Scottish independence, Trump, Podemos, etc. the source is similar in all cases.

      Of course there is more. The linguistic difference is real. There have been independence wanting Catalans for a long time, and there are other, more serious reasons for wanting independence, some of them quite reasonable. In the end the question shouldn’t be whether those reasons are right or wrong, but rather, given that a substantial portion of Catalan society wants independence, how to organize a process that determines whether such independence should occur, and in what terms. A schism of that sort is a like a divorce. It can occur amicably, when both sides behave like adults, or it can degenerate into fighting over money and children. What is happening is the latter. Serious issues, like who pays for the pensions of public employees post independence, have to be discussed, not just blown off. But prior to that, there has to be a constructive effort to channel the desires of the Catalan population to be heard. Maybe such a vote would fail, maybe not (I personally have no problems with Catalan independence as a consequence of a well organized process), but the central government’s refusal to even broach the issue is simply blind stupidity.

      Now of course things are worse. The time for reasonableness has passed. There will probably be a unilateral declaration of independence and if there is the central government will declare some sort of martial law and take over. The end game of such developments cannot be good. Who wants them is a fool. But both governments apparently want them.

      1. TedHunter

        According to a previous article on NC (source here, the supporters of independence reached 7% in 2007 and trippled to 48% in 2013. It is likely that the initial 7% were right-wingers, and the delta was largely created by those, as you say

        fed up with corrupt, incompetent government subservient to bankers and energy companies that is dedicated to diminishing the welfare of ordinary people

        If this turns into a declaration of independence (and it most likely will), than issues are going to turn nasty. I wonder what role the EU will play.

      2. vlade

        To me, this looks more and more like heading towards a proper civil war. Which is more than a bit scary. And I don’t mean scary in the way that the last European war started with a spanish CW – although it looks to me like if it goes that way, the elites fail to draw the right lesson from it the same way they did 70 years ago.

        1. Ignacio

          I don’t think so. A vast mayority of spanish and catalonians cannot be fooled to civil war. This is a creature of the political elites but they are no longer trusted enough to follow them to those extremes.

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