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Don Quijones: Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

By By Don Quijones of Spain, UK, & Mexico and an editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street

Acute uncertainty is like sand in the gears of the local economy. 

It’s amazing how fast the wheels of the Spanish justice system go round when the establishment wants them to, and how slowly they revolve when it doesn’t, which is usually when members of the same establishment — senior politicians and civil servants, bankers, business owners, or even royalty — are in the dock, which is happening with disturbing regularity these days.

On Thursday we saw Spanish justice at its fastest. In the dock was the recently sacked vice president of Catalonia’s separatist government, Oriol Junqueras, and seven other elected representatives of the breakaway region who stand accused of a litany of charges, including rebellion, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment.

The counsel for the defence had less than 24 hours to prepare the case. After just a few hours of hearing preliminary evidence, the National Court Judge sent half of Catalonia’s suspended government to jail without bail. On Friday,the same judge issued an international arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the disputed Catalan president who fled to Brussels on Monday, as well as four other former ministers who did not show up to court on Thursday.

Catalonia’s separatist politicians are paying a very high price for overplaying their hand. As we warned months ago, many in the Catalan government had hoped that threatening to declare independence unilaterally, or even following through on the threats (which it kind of did on Friday), might be enough to push the Spanish government into having to compromise. It was a massive bluff, and it’s hugely backfired.

But while jailing Catalonia’s elected government may be justifiable by Spanish law and will probably go some way to placating the more revanchist elements of the Spanish public, it will also further inflame tensions and polarize divisions within Spain’s north eastern region while doing yet more damage to the tattered image of Spanish democracy in the rest of the world. It also risks exacerbating economic uncertainty and instability in Catalonia, Spain’s richest region.

Just when things appeared to be returning to some semblance of normality as local people and the region’s political parties turned their attention to the regional elections scheduled for December 21, Rajoy, his government, and the judges they help appoint just lit a fuse under the region.

In Catalonia today it’s virtually impossible to tell what will happen tomorrow, let alone this time next month or next year. Such acute uncertainty is like sand in the gears of the local economy. Rather than slowing, the exodus of Catalan-based companies to other parts of Spain has actually accelerated in the wake of Madrid’s activation of article 155 of Spain’s constitution. On Tuesday alone an additional 99 companies bid farewell to Catalonia, albeit merely on paper for now.

Spain’s central bank yesterday warned that the current crisis could, in the worst case scenario, end up shaving 2.5 percentage points off Spain’s GDP in the next two years. That could be very optimistic if a genuine, lasting solution is not found to this crisis soon — and preferably one that does not involve the government in Madrid criminalizing a political movement supported by roughly half the region’s population.

The greatest tragedy of all, as British-Spanish journalist John Carlin wrote yesterday in the Barcelona daily La Vanguarda, is just how “spectacularly unnecessary” the current conflict is and how easily it could have all been avoided:

First, with a change of the sacred text of the Spanish Constitution and the approval of an agreed referendum, just as any other modern and democratic State (Canada, United Kingdom) would have done in similar circumstances. But it could have been avoided with even less, with merely conciliatory gestures and respectful words, with the granting of extra powers to the autonomous Catalan region, with a minimum of statesmanship, with the desire to think first of the general good.

Instead, what we have is a constant escalation of tensions from a government majority ruled by a party (Popular Party) that is implicated in over 60 major political scandals — more than just about any other governing party in Europe. And yet, even as the party continually falls on the wrong side of the law, the EU holds it up as a defender of the rule of law.

Spain’s Premier Mariano Rajoy recently become the first sitting prime minister to appear as a witness in a Spanish court when he gave evidence in a massive corruption case involving the alleged illegal financing of his Popular Party.

One of the dozens of companies embroiled in the Popular Party’s kickback scandals is Indra, a semi state-owned tech giant that organizes the vote counting for virtually all of Spain’s political elections, including Catalonia. The company is alleged to have paid Rajoy’s party €600,000 of public funds diverted through a complex network of shell companies. The scandal barely graced the front pages of Spain’s newspapers.

Now Indra gets to organize the vote counting for Catalonia’s do-or-die elections in December.

For years, this sort of corruption has consistently ranked as the second biggest cause for concern after unemployment in Spain. Now, it’s the prospect of Catalan independence that’s at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s the perfect smokescreen for the endless corruption trials of PP politicians, the stagnating wages, the ballooning public debt, the collapsing banks and the shrinking pension pot that the government has systematically plundered to plug some of its own massive fiscal shortfalls.

In short, Spain’s economy is perhaps not as robust as recent growth figures may suggest. Unemployment, already at 17.1%, surged by 58,000 in October as the number of highly seasonal tourist-dependent jobs began shrinking. Market-entry salaries are 14% lower than they were in 2008.

Worse still, the economy’s recent show of strength was based on three main pillars: consistently low global energy prices, the large-scale diversion of tourists from geopolitical hot spots like Turkey and Egypt, and dirt cheap public debt resulting from Mario Draghi’s massive binge-buying of euro zone sovereign bonds. And all of these pillars are beginning to show signs of strain. As tensions continue to rise in Catalonia, the economic uncertainty digs in for the long haul.

Emotions are running high on both sides of the divide. Read… Catalonia and Spain Enter Dangerous Uncharted Territory

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45 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    which is usually when members of the same establishment — senior politicians and civil servants, bankers, business owners, or even royalty — are in the dock, which is happening with disturbing regularity these days.

    To be fair, at least the Spanish system puts them in the dock, which is more than you can say for most countries.

    1. Thuto

      Justice tends to be swiftly meted out when a “see what will happen if you step out of line” message needs to be sent out to quell some inconvenient insurrection, yet its wheels turn with glacial pace when members of the elite inner circle are “in the dock” (which sometimes is just cosmetic to create the impression of the “no one is above the law” toughness/impartiality by authorities). What’s becoming increasingly clear all around the world, and Catalonia is but one example, is that we live in a post democratic society.

      Perhaps democracy itself as a concept where the marginal “one more than half” majority oppresses the marginal “one less than half” minority was always flawed, now introduce the deliberate manufacturing of consent where the lied to, deceived electorate acts as nothing more than vessels to deliver power to said elites and one wonders whose will is really being represented even in cases where elections are deemed “free and fair”.

      1. Billy-Bob

        “where the lied to, deceived electorate acts as nothing more than vessels to deliver power to said elite”

        MONEY and power. First and foremost we are tax mules.

    1. VietnamVet

      This article and Ilargi’s about Catalonia and Donna Brazile’s Democrat Hack implosion; all have one thing in common; the failure of government to have the slightest concern for the general good of the governed. Scapegoating Russia, war with Iran or North Korea and continued corporate rule will only accelerate the spinning apart of the West.

  2. Chauncey Gardiner

    So in summary a demonstrably and pervasively corrupt majority political party and Spanish central government have:

    — Dissolved the parliament of Catalonia which is supported by half the citizens of that region.

    — Called new elections in Catalonia where the votes are to be counted by a semi state-owned corporation that is alleged to have paid kickbacks of 600,000 euros in public funds to the central government’s political party.

    — Imprisoned nine Catalonian leaders.

    Rhymes with what they did in 1934 when they jailed the government of Catalonia; and we know what subsequently happened in Spain. Sadly, the risks are not limited to economic uncertainty.

    Meanwhile, the EU remains silent.

    1. Clive

      To be fair to the EU* (in particular, the ECHR), it might have lent more support to Catalan separatists if they’d themselves acted within the law, then brought a claim for how they’d been treated unlawfully by having the right to participate in a free and fair election suppressed.

      But a basic principle of going to court is, you have to show up “with clean hands”. You can’t, in other words, be culpable to your own wrongdoings which you want a court to pour a bucket of whitewash over “just ‘coz you waz wronged”.

      The separatists could have exhausted that approach. Then they could have claimed, with some justification if the ECHR had thrown out their claims, look, we’ve done all we can, we’ve tried it your way, we’ve gone through all the hoops you’ve made us jump through and we still can’t have a referendum on separatism. But that would have taken years. The separatists, having apparently watched too many TV informercials, wanted instant results. The EU could hardly not back a lawful and constitutional action by a member state in favour of unlawful actions by a rogue element.

      So the outcome they got was a direct result of their poor strategic manoeuvring.

      * and the EU is firmly in my love-to-hate camp, so I’m not making this point lightly.

      1. diptherio

        The EU could hardly not back a lawful and constitutional action by a member state in favour of unlawful actions by a rogue element.

        Apparently, Spanish law or constitution says that no one is allowed to vote on breaking from the current government unless the current government says it’s OK. And if you try to have a public referendum on something your overlords haven’t approved of, they’ll lock you in a cage for 30 years. You are no doubt correct that the EU is supporting a “lawful” action, in standing behind Rajoy’s actions; however, I would argue that the law itself is unjust (and the Spanish Constitution was literally written by a literal fascist, right?). It used to be against the law to harbor someone trying to escape from enslavement, too…just sayin’.

        1. Clive

          Then they can go to the ECHR. Present their claim and get their day in court.

          If the ECHR were to rule that for now and forevermore the people in Catalonia cannot vote on the establishment of their own state, that’s it, end of the road, no right of appeal, go jump in a lake Catalonia, then I and probably everyone in the EU (oh, unfortunately, I probably won’t be, but I’d be there in spirit) would be right with the people of Catalonia — aghast at such a perverse judgement and fully supportive of extra-judicial actions.

          But they’ve not done that. They wanted their own pet version of mob rule. You don’t get rewarded for that in my book, barring exceptional circumstances. Which these weren’t.

            1. vlade

              “peoples” has a very tight definition under the international law, which Catalans likely don’t fall under. Their self-detemination would be unde A2 likely be judged to be satisfied by the autonomy arrangements within the Spanish consititution.

          1. Ptolemy Philopater

            This is a fundamental issue of governance that has not been resolved ever, namely the relationship of local governments to national governments, and now increasingly international governments. The question then is which way does sovereignty flow. If we accept the premise of government through the consent of the governed, it is through the consent of constituent local governments that a national government has its raison du etre, hence if whatever advantage exists in consenting to a national government no longer attains, the constituent local governments should have the right to withdraw their consent, thus incentivizing the central government to act in the interests of its citizens. How that consent is determined is a matter of the local constituency to decide, not the central government, within the constraints of truly democratic electoral process.

            Alternately, when sovereignty flows in the other direction, from the central “Authorities” overruling the wishes of their local constituencies, we are no longer dealing with democratic institutions but authoritarian ones, by definition.

            This of course assumes a rational rules based view of the matter based on democratic principles. We know however that we live in an age of central governments run by criminal organizations called political parties, that attain positions of power in order to loot the economy and their authority rests on the psychopathic goons that they fund lavishly to enforce their rule, namely the national police, who are all over the world looking more like Star Wars Storm Troopers. In our mafia culture, might makes right. In the spirit of Shakespeare’s “The Hollow Crown”, we live in a hollow democracy, in which rule by the consent of the governed no longer has any meaning.

        2. vlade

          See, this would be a very interesting part of it – because EU governments get sued by their citizens at ECJ/ECHR all the time. Where it was not tested yet is where the state’s constitution is involved (well, not really).

          If you listen to the part of the Brexit crowd, the implication is that the ECJ could happily rule to support Catalans to have right to self-determination and order Spain to let them.

          On the other hand, if this got in front of the ECJ, and ECJ ruled it does NOT have the competency to look at it, then it woudl invalidate a lot of arguments about sovreignty Brexiters, Le Pen and other people in EU are making, and would start delineation between ECJ/EU and national states, which at the moment is more than fuzzy.

          While these points may be of little interest to Catalans directly, I’d argue they had little to lose by trying to put their case in front of ECJ. At worst, they would be in the same situation as they are today – against Spain and its constitution (this would be in the case ECJ would refuse to rule on it entirely). If ECJ decided to rule on it, they would be in win-win situation – either legally (they win), or politically/PR-wise (they lose). Which is the reason I suspect that the ECJ would refuse to rule on it (and Spain, France, BElgium and quite a few other EU states would encourage it to do so).

          As flora writes below – the separatists were reliant on blind hope and energy. But all succesfull change (i.e. one that gets to the goal that was driving it) puts in the groundwork. Catalans, as far as I’m concerned, had about zero planning.

          In fact, if Spain really wanted to drive the point home (except that it would create bad precedent, and be a very high stakes game), they should have “accepted” the independence, and immediately withdraw all payments capabilities (i.e. ATMs, bank payments), stop all imports/exports (and ask Spain etc. to do the same), blocade all the illegal land crossings and incursions into airspace etc. (which would be all, since Catalonia would have no treaties with anyone), blocade the coast to stop the “smuggling” (in/out of EU, as technically pretty much all the trade with EU would be smuggling since there would be no treaties covering any standards recognitions) etc.

          Catalonia would be likely begging to be let back (or suffer its own internal civil war) within a few weeks, because the food and energy situation would turn into a collapse pretty damn quick.

          If you want your independence antagonistically, you’d better have damn well planned it, and not just to try to breaze it through. I’d make an argument, that unless you have some of the larger players on your side (China/Russia/US/EU), in the current world it’s pretty much impossible to declared independence antagonistically w/o violence. And if you do, you’re likely just switching orbits anyways.

        3. ricard

          Hi again from Barcelona.
          Just some comments.

          Our Catalan politicians asked for 18 times to negotiate but ALWAYS heard the same word: NO WAY. So, no sense of accusing us of just looking for splitting Spain, pursuing the unilaterality like chickens without head. That is not fair and, even more, this is a lie. In fact, I enjoyed the POLITICO explanation about how we get there (https://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-referendum-independence-timeline-how-did-we-get-here/). This problem started in 2003, and we have been looking for a political solution since then, but what we get is mockery, retaliation and a huge dishonest political behaviour from the other part. But, oh wait, taking into account that PP is the most corrupt party in Europe according POLITICO again (https://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-referendum-independence-timeline-how-did-we-get-here/), who should be surprised for this way to proceed. Everybody in Europe should understand that the PP forbidden agenda is to use us (Catalonia) as a smokescreen to hide other big problems and, at the same time, an attack to erase our competences and to delete our linguistic immersion educational system.

          Last but not least, if we look attentively to the last WEF report on judicial independence (http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-index-2017-2018/competitiveness-rankings/#series=EOSQ144) where Spain was ranked in the 58th position (worse than Azerbaijan, Indonesia or Botswana) we will agree that it is a joke to think that we have a situation that, potentially, let the Catalans to have a good deal or relationship with Spain. Unfortunately for us, this is not the case.

          We, in Catalonia, know that, since 2012 to middle 2017, if we have had an agreed referendum with Spain, NO would probably has won (45 YES 55 NO). But, even knowing this fact, the Spanish government NEVER accepted the deal. Why? Because … put your reason and none of them will be democratic.

          1. Clive

            I’ll keep asking the same question until someone gives me a good reason why it can’t be done — where, then, is the request from the Catalan regional authority to request leave to appeal to the CJEU / ECHR?

            If you want international recognition, you have to follow international law.

            To do otherwise is suggestive that the current lot of Catalan separatists in office (or who were in office until they fled the scene) are more interested in politicking and posturing with the Spanish government than in seriously pursuing a separate state.

          2. vlade

            Go and ask Scots how long they talked to London before they got their referendum agreed. I can tell you it wasn’t 18 months. Some would tell you it was since 1707.

      2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I imagine that your ” Love to hate ” camp is getting overcrowded – mine is constantly recruiting & fit to burst with what appear to be the same kind of occupants, from wherever they lay their hats.

      3. Quantillion

        “But that would have taken years. The separatists… wanted instant results.”

        Sorry but this sounds very naive. Have you any idea how long they have been trying just to get a discussion going with Spain, who have responded with nothing?

        1. Clive

          Then the separatists should go, without delay, to the ECHR. They have, on the face of it, a strong case.

          I’m currently in dispute with an insurance carrier about making a repair to a defective water heater which they should be covering the cost of. I’m certain they are liable and trying to wriggle out of providing a policy benefit I am entitled to. I am not a patient sort, especially if I am in the right and being done out of something. I am, however, playing by the rules — complaining, waiting for a response, chasing up if there isn’t one, escalating the complaint to the regulators if needed, appealing. And so on.

          Yes, it is a war of attrition. But one which I will under no circumstances win were I to stomp round in a fit of pique to the insurance company office and make off with money I’d stolen from their petty cash “because it is all so unfair and I’m not willing to wait any longer”.

          It never ceases to amaze me how people throw away strong hands and good bargaining positions because they get exasperated all too easily with bureaucracy. Yes, it is a game. So play to win. Catalonia and the separatists are a textbook case of playing to lose. And that’s always been the problem with us on the left. We’re far to eager to rush out on to the streets and make a noise. Long term leveraging of legal, procedural and political tactics, not so much. Which is why we’re where we are and they’re where they are. We should learn this lesson, but we keep skipping that class because it’s too boring.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Exactly. But the left moves on emotion – from empathy to self-righteousness and degrees of decency in between. The Wrongs (why do we give them the constant little semiotic victory of calling them the “Right?”) who are the troops of the elite, run on fiscal fuel — like the “developers” where I live, who co-opt and besiege and eventually own the law- and policy-making institutions, a long gradual cancerous growth process. A process that people rail and flail about, futilely, with sharply worded letters to the editors and smug self-congratulation and hugs all around after club meetings and flash protest events. There are occasional local temporary “wins” by emotion-driven “activists,” but the steady lean-in by the Wrongs seeking pleasure and dominance undo those over the long haul — stronger motivation, consistently applied. It’s hard for us “lefties,” debating fine points of Marxist or anarchist purity, to escape from enthusiasm to implacable purpose and drive.

            One would think after all these millennia of experience and observation, the mopes might come to understand. But we pride ourselves that we are “left,” which word is associated with “sinister,” and “maladroit” and similar meanings, and with left-handedness, that being a genetically determined permanent minority of us humans.

            One might be forgiven for concluding that what is, is maybe the way it will always be, until everything collapses in a “Wall-E” heap.

            “Money talks, BS walks.”

      4. Oregoncharles

        ” You can’t, in other words, be culpable to your own wrongdoings which you want a court to pour a bucket of whitewash over ”
        ??? That depends on just who you are.

        Further thought: I’m not convinced this even matters. Most of the larger members of the EU have their own dissatisfied, formerly sovereign minorities. They have a BIG stake in independence movements not happening. That’s why they worked against the Scottish referendum, even though it was perfectly legal.

        This is a bit ironic, because theoretically a “union” like the EU is the ideal setting for a devolution movement. As with the Irish border, it makes such border adjustments rather unimportant.

        1. vlade

          Care to note which ones? In France one could make an argument for Corsica, and especially Brittany, although my understanding is that neither of those has really anywhere near to majority support for a full independence.

          In Germany, Bavaria might make noises now and then, but I can’t really see it.

          One case I could see some moves is really Italy. Some of the northern regions would actually like to secede – but, funnily enough, to join either Austria or Germany (large parts of what is now northern Italy used to belong to Austrian empire until early 19th century, and some parts are still more german than italian culture-wise).

          The other major national EU tensions are in Belgium, and, of course, right now the UK.

          Guardian had infographics on this few weeks back, but it was really laughable, as I know some of the regions first hand and they overplayed the independence (or even autonomy) movement there a lot. Sort of like saying that Manchester wanted to go independent of the UK because it doesn’t like London (which it doesn’t, but it doesn’t mean the area wants to quit the UK).

          All that said, I entirely agree with your last para. In fact, EU used to present itself as “Europe of regions”, and on a lot of levels it actually is. Except the political one, really, which is unfortunately the one that matters.

  3. flora

    “Catalonia’s separatist politicians are paying a very high price for overplaying their hand. As we warned months ago, many in the Catalan government had hoped that threatening to declare independence unilaterally, or even following through on the threats (which it kind of did on Friday), might be enough to push the Spanish government into having to compromise. It was a massive bluff, and it’s hugely backfired.”

    Sounds like the separatist’s, while they have legitimate grievances and reasons for reforming Spain’s constitution, didn’t do the groundwork necessary to make this work.

    Groundwork is a long, tedious, unsung process. It often looks like ‘nothing is happening’. Groundwork, or homework, isn’t as invigorating as marching in the streets and making demands. Groundwork is necessary, however, to give marches and demands a force that momentary shifting public opinion lacks. Acting rashly and failing sets back efforts to reform the system. There’s no ‘quick fix’ for challenging powerful vested interests, sorry to say.

    “It was a massive bluff, and it’s hugely backfired.”

    I’m very sorry Catalonia is in this position.

    1. Oregoncharles

      If the referendum was illegal, then the “groundwork” for sovereignty would be, too. Vlade’s point, above, is really that such self-determination is no longer possible in the globalized world, especially once it’s as tightly linked as the EU and especially the Euro. Tight linkages are dangerous, because sooner or later someone will try it, or tensions will build to the point of civil war. Catalonia seems not to have been all that serious; their real goal was to renegotiate their autonomy, and it’s Rajoy’s fault that didn’t happen.

      I suspect that CUP, the fanatics, will now be very quietly laying that groundwork, so far as it can be done underground. Unless they’re all in Spanish prisons.

      1. flora

        I agree with almost all you’ve written, except your first point.
        If the referendum was illegal, then the “groundwork” for sovereignty would be, too.

        An example from US history of legally (and quietly) doing groundwork to challenge legal but unjust law:
        The NACCP’s long (years) groundwork in analyzing segragation ‘Jim Crow’ laws in place for over 80 years.

        The groundwork included careful legal reasoning and analyzing the best ways to legally challenge the whole system in the Courts and in the court of public opinion of the whole country.

        When Rosa Parks got herself arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger (and yes, her arrest was of the plan) and that set off the Montgomery Buss boycott, she set in motion careful and long prepared NAACP legal responses to all the court cases ahead.
        A friendly newspaper photographer “just happened” to be in the police station when she was finger printed for breaking the law, so the country saw a respectable middle-aged woman being booked into jail for sitting in the bus seat for which she’d paid the fair. A sympathetic defendant. That also was part of the plan. The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964.

        The result of a lot of legal groundwork preparing the way to overturn nearly a century of bad law and custom. It wasn’t quick. It wasn’t easy. But the planning itself was legal.

        1. flora

          adding:

          The NAACP had prepared briefs and appeals for every case Parks lost hoping to get beyond the state courts with their appeals, where they knew they would lose. (and not only Parks, but others arrested on Jim Crow violations.) They had to get these cases finally adjudicated in courts outside of the segregated South, and that meant appeals that would go up the court chain, and that meant having already prepared carefully reasoned legal/constitutional briefs that would stand up to efforts to dismiss.

            1. flora

              and this was Rosa Parks’ December 1, 1955, booking picture, published at the time in newspapers all across the country as her case wound through the courts.

              https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/rosaparks/rosaparks.html

              What are the odds a photographer would just happen to be there to photograph a standard, no-big-deal booking…of someone who was about to become nationally famous? Or that the person would be impeccably dressed after a day’s work? This was a well orchestrated plan. From 1955 arrest to 1964 Civil Rights Law.

              1. JTMcPhee

                One cavil with your points: the assumption that the courts of today are still presided over by men and women of which a majority can be said to live a “rule of law” that favors individuals over institutions. And that “the law” somehow, despite being constantly being re-written by “legitimately elected” (sic) “representatives” (of monied interests) would somehow provide rules of decision that would protect the mope against the State and the corporate powers that actually own it.

                What happens to the Rosa Parks of today, and to anyone trying to line up the kind of long-term effort that led to that “defining moment?” COINTELPRO? Fusion Centers? The “independent Department of Justice”?

    2. Quantillion

      There’s no fix at all as far as Spain is concerned. They write the constitution & they’re not interested in Catalonian independence whatever the Catalonian majority want. For a good reason: Catalonian productivity & contribution to GDP is greater than for the rest of Spain.
      As for Catalonia “not doing the groundwork” – Are you aware how long this has been going on? They have been given no other options.

      1. flora

        I agree with you main points. However, the length of time this has been going on is less important than how it has been going on. Careful analysis of law, constitution, EU law, public opinion, etc is the groundwork I’m referring to. It’s slow, it may fail, but I can see no other way that results in a stable outcome. Anyway, that’s what I mean by groundwork.

        It’s possible this has already been done and failed. I don’t know. I do think the current events were politically rash and unprepared. The dilemma is setting people out to march when you haven’t done the groundwork almost guarantees failure, and the failure demoralizes people who have only the best intentions. I think that’s political misleadership. Have they looked for a legal way to appeal to the ECJ or other supra national court system? But I am an outsider, and so maybe should not opine on Catalonia.

      2. St Jacques

        In 2009 polls showed around 14 % support for independence, so no, it hasn’t been going on that long. Support has surged since then, and especially with the financial crisis in 2012. A lot of that support seems to have been built on the claim made by the Catalan secessionists that independence could be achieved at low cost within the EU and would lead to an economic boon for Catalans.

        By the way, it seems support may already be ebbing, a poll recently published in a Catalan newspaper shows that though the main Catalan nationalist party, the left wing ERC will gain seats at the December 21st election, the overall representation within the Catalan parliament of the secessionist parties is likely to fall below the majority. Furthermore, outside the parliamentary vote, all the indications are that support for Catalan independence is less than fifty percent. You would need a strong absolute majority of citizens to have any chance of making this project a success in the best of conditions. The fact is Catalonia itself is bitterly divided down the middle – something that seems to often be forgotten by outsiders.

        http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20171104/432605827398/erc-ganaria-21d-sin-asegurar-mayoria-absoluta-independentista.html

          1. St Jacques

            There was an ocean between Britain and the American colonies, and the American colonies had the military and logistical support of Britain’s two greatest rivals, France and Spain, without which the American rebels would have surely lost. The other point is this determined push by the Catalan nationalists has awoken Spanish nationalism that has been dormant for a very long time. If roughly half the population of Catalonia is determined to stay Spanish, there is no way that the Catalanist nationalists can win.

  4. JBird

    The latest actions by the Spanish government, especially if they do not do every action in a legal, moral, ethical, and open way, could give the Catalans more desire to leave. Look at past history. American, and Irish, independence movements were not popular, but the overly repressive actions on the Americans such as the Coercive/Intolerable Acts, and the repressive, perhaps even illegal actions on the Irish, in their case the overly speedy covert executions of the Easter Rising’s leaders, in response to their illegal activities pushed the general public in both examples into the pro-rebellion faction. Often the fact that something is legal does not matter to people if it is thought of as unfair, or unjust. Yelling that an action is legal so that makes it okay, just enrages people more. So even if the groundwork was not laid as was the case with both the Americans, and the Irish, the responses strengthen, or even saved, the independence movements .

  5. Scott

    Real nations regardless of their governmental systems have their own armies.
    So then what is independence without an army?
    In the reports of this event I’ve not seen any mention of a Catalonian armed forces on the payroll of an independent Catalonia.
    So then the whole thing is a model of independence and apparently an attempt to make real something historically impossible.
    The reality is only in evidence on the part of Spain & its belief that this is serious enough to put the leaders of a concept unable to defend its leaders within their claimed borders, in jail.
    I’d say the leaders of the movement towards independence have no idea at all what they are doing.

    1. JBird

      Neither the American Colonies or the Irish had an actual army, (the Colonies did have militias) with the former never being completely independent, and latter being completely conquered for over three hundred years. That did not prevent their gaining independence. The creation of a military, the forming of the government, and the declarations of independence mostly done in parallel time.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Costa Rica. I don’t think Iceland has one, either. The defining point is borders they control; by that definition, none of the EU members are “real nations.”

      1. JBird

        I think we should be careful on our use of adjectives and nouns; the Catalonian nation (people) has a tradition of trying to create a separate state or independent country. The Spanish State has a habit of stopping the Catalonian Nation from making that separate political unit called a State. It is persnickety and even a bit pedantic, but words have meaning, and I am a Poli Sci/Econ major so… :-)

    3. JTMcPhee

      Smart nations, like Costa Rica, don’t invite the infection called “army” into their bodies politic. Not to say that the Empire won’t then screw them over…

  6. ricard

    Hi from Barcelona.

    A public manifest has been brought to light and published for more than 100 Spanish university professors owing a doctorate in law to assert against the legal procedure of the Spanish government, the public prosecutor Maza and the judge Lamela (both of them from the Audiencia Nacional)

    https://www.peticiones24.com/legalidad_penal_y_proceso_independentista

    You can read the whole manifesto and those who signed it.

    But, in a nutshell, they state that:

    1.- There is no rebellion;
    2.- There is no sedition;
    3.- The AN (Audiencia Nacional) is not competent;
    4.- Judge Lamela caused defencelessness; and
    5.- The preventive prison is disproportionate.

    Another convincing evidence that there is no democracy nor rule of law in Spain right now.

  7. ricard

    Hi from Barcelona.

    Yesterday night, there was a massive manifestation in favour of independence.
    Approximately, 1.5 million people took part on it.

    Just for you to understand this huge protest, the Marina street (3,3 km long or 2 miles long) was full of people. We could not reach it because of the crowd. Taking into account all the adjacent streets, 750000 in Marina street plus 750000 summing all the adjacent streets, the protest has been the busiest protest since the process began.

    This is a wonderful video:

    https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/929636248595173382

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