Stick a fork in it! Spain, as we have known it for centuries, is now done.
Viva Catalonia! Viva Castille!
This historic event follows a vote by Catalonia’s regional parliament to declare full independence on the back of a referendum in the region that strongly supported independence. The referendum, which had a 43% turnout, voted for independence by 92%. Now in a vote on Friday (27th Oct.) Catalan MPs have voted 70 to 10 in favour of independence, with 55 abstaining.
While many people in Catalonia are still in favour of union with Spain, clearly a majority with an opinion on the matter support independence. But more importantly the Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has managed to inflame passions and polarise people by its attempt at heavy-handed repression.
I’m not saying repression can’t work. It definitely can, but in order to work, it needs to be implemented by someone like this:
Not someone like this:
In response to the vote by the Catalan parliament, the Spanish senate has granted powers to Rajoy to impose direct rule on the region under article 155 of the Spanish constitution. But this too will only inflame the situation. In fact, the more Rajoy tries to clamp down on the independence movement by using force and imprisoning people, the more martyrs he will create, thus further inflaming the situation.
The Catalonian situation presents a fascinating case of how weak liberal democracies really are in the face of strong popular uprisings, even amongst localised parts of their population. At the end of the day power is about passion, and Rajoy’s actions have basically ensured that the Catalan independence movement will have this in spades.
What will happen from now is this: the national security forces will attempt to clamp down, but instead of dealing with a few troublemakers they will be dealing with hundreds of thousands on the streets and will thus be essentially overwhelmed, and forced to cede control of parts of the state to the independence movement.
The continuing division will also cause economic disruption with no clear solution outside of doing a deal, while the only possible deal on the table now involves independence.
If Rajoy had taken a less confrontational approach and shown the Catalan people more respect, it might have been possible to cobble together some deal that kept them in Spain, but going in hard has ruined the chances of this.
Rajoy is essentially LARPing as Franco, a man who literally decreed that all Spanish universities should be built so that police horses could ride through their corridors, but unfortunately for Rajoy no one is convinced by his tough guy act. This is because “to be Franco” you have to be prepared to bust heads, clear the streets with gunfire, and then round up as many people as you need to. There is no way that a European liberal democracy can operate in this way, so there is zero chance of Rajoy’s actions panning out in the way he hopes.
Now Rajoy has dissolved the Catalan parliament and called for fresh elections. This is unlikely to produce a pro-union majority. The independence campaign has two options — to run in these elections or to boycott them. If they run they will probably win, but if they boycott they will probably win too.
Whether you want it or not, independence is coming to Catalonia, and after Catalonia, who knows what other identitarian forces will be unleashed in Europe?