Tuesday, 15 December 2009

DIY democracy

There has been quite decent international coverage of the popular referendums on independence in Catalonia. This will be enough to anger the Spanish nationalists who believe that Spanish unity and sovereign integrity is somehow God’s will and indestructible. Nothing angers the Spanish political classes more than the “internationalisation” of the national conflicts of the Basque Country and Catalonia with Spain.

Just to recap, given that the Spanish state does not allow the Catalan parliament to vote on the issue of organising a referendum to allow Catalans to decide their own constitutional future, community associations throughout Catalonia have endeavoured to set up their own vote.

Of course, these votes have not legally binding since they are organised separately, and with the opposition of the Spanish state. Spain is home to an interesting form of democracy which revels in preventing the use of the ballot box. As we all know, “Spain is different”.

Anyway, after the referendum in Arenys de Munt, near Barcelona, took place despite the presence of Spanish fascists Falange, many other villages and towns set out to organise their own. This happenned last weekend, and the results are quite remarkable.

With an average of 30% turnout, marginally below European elections, about 95% voted in favour of independence.

Now, nobody says that all those who abstain at European elections are anti-Europe... But, surprise, surprise, in this referendum, organised entirely by volunteers and against the threat of legal action by the Spanish state against local authorities, a referendum without the resources of the State and without the support of the official media, the Spanish press equates failing to vote with opposition to independence.

But if they are so sure about it, if they are so convinced that an official referendum would endorse Catalonia remaining part of Spain..... why do they try so hard to prevent an official, legally binding referendum taking place? What are they afraid of?


trevor said...

As you well know, the referenda received the universal half- or wholehearted support of the official (heavily subsidised) press in Cataloonia, and it was the same press which interpreted the meagre vote as being due to the affair being organised by separatists for separatists. As you also know, the financial resources to enable the PR and organisation were made available by almost entirely stated-funded organisations like Omnium Cultural.

Would you support a legally binding referendum for Barcelona to secede on cultural and linguistic grounds from Cataloonia?

Guillem said...

Ah trevor, the typical spaniard arguments for not allowing democracy ... bla bla bla ... make a referenda, and then talk about it, not before. The second qüestions is kindly laughting, I'll tell you why after.

trevor, do you have any evidence of the funds transferred by Omnium Cultural to the referendum organizers? No? Oh, so why do we have to believe you?

The question you asked after that sentence is nonsense. Is there any claim of people from Barcelona to effectively seccede from Catalonia? I don't have any problem about supporting a legally binding referendum for that, but have you read any demand of that? Or is just a mater of confusing?

The fact is that there are X million catalan people thinking they're a nation, and a X (millions, hundreds of thousands ...) of them thinking that the best option is to vote which future they want for their nation.

Do you have any problem about supporting a legally binding referendum for that, trevor? Do you fear democracy?

Is out there any law that challenges the democracy itself? You approve that? Do you think the democracy has to be under some kind of laws?


Rab said...

Ah TerrorBoy, you are back. I missed your silly comments and bizarre logic.

1) The referenda did not receive the support of the “official” press. What is official press anyway? Is TV3 and CatRadio official press and EL Periodico and LV are not?
Your view must be news to the pro-independence supporters that claim TV3 was ignoring the votes until the very last day. Not surprising given the TV3 is controlled by the PSC-PSOE, the party in the Spanish government that is trying to prevent the votes for taking place.

The media, from TV3 to the BBC and The Telegraph provided media coverage on an event involving thousands of people and of huge political significance. However, the state-funded Spanish broadcasters and their private counterparts did their best to ignore and boycott an event affecting thousands of people and that is setting the political agenda. You don’t question their political bias though. But we know what your political bias is too, so no surprises there either.

The referenda was organised and set up by volunteer organisations none of which receive any kind of state support. In fact, the Spanish state (and the PSC-PSOE local groups and the Generalitat) did their utmost to prevent the votes taking place, including threat of legal action against local authorities.

The single reason that no more localities organised popular votes is that the threat of legal action by the Spanish prosecutor was hanging over them.

Do you think it is right for the State to interfere in the affairs and dealings of private, community-based associations?

Looking forward to your response with interest.

2)Once again you put out an argument that does not exist –except in your febrile imagination and that of a few dozen (hundred?) sadomasochistic Catalonophobes unlucky enough to live in Catalonia. There is not a single organised political party or movement, mainstream or fringe, that advocates and promotes the argument you have put forward. If there was, and they can organise a popular vote, then I don’t think it is the best use of scarce state resources to prevent people organising their own events. Particularly during a recession and with unemployment topping 15%.

Your last point is revealing of the mindset folk like you have. You object to the referendum taking place if the question is Catalan independence but immediately advocate a similar referendum with a different question.
Are you in favour of the process of popular democracy via referendums or not?

@ Guillem: Don’t worry, Trevor suffers from an acute Catalonophobe syndrome. He is going completely native but in a Spanish settler sort of way.
Since I have known about him I have been of the opinion it can only have been a broken heart or some other kind of emotional resentment against all things Catalan because such irrationality and prejudiced hatred from someone seemingly intelligent and well-educated is otherwise unexplainable by rational means.

santcugat said...

I've never understood the big deal about having a referendum. Democracies should have mechanism for modifying the constitution if it has the support of a large majority. There's nothing holy about whatever Franco's friends came up with.

At the end of the day, the referendum isn't really what any of the major political parties want. The independents don't want to lose (which is the most likely outcome), the centralists don't want to set a precedent.