El cop d’estat

Madrid has pressed the constitutional nuclear button and has announced that it’s going to dissolve the institutions of Catalan self-government and impose direct rule. The pro-independence Catalan media is describing it as a cop d’estat – a coup d’etat – against Catalonia by a Spanish government which is already holding two high profile independentistas as political prisoners. Today the streets of Barcelona were filled with half a million demonstrators protesting against Rajoy’s unilateral abolition of Catalan self-government and against the imprisonment of Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana. Both have been denied bail on charges of sedition for helping to organise October’s independence referendum. Due to the slow and labyrinthine workings of the Spanish legal system, they could be imprisoned for four years before coming to trial.

The Partido Popular minority government in Madrid has announced that the Catalan Parliament will now have to face fresh elections. And if the people of Catalonia decide that they’re going to elect another pro-independence majority in their parliament – then what? Rajoy has no answer. He has nothing to say to Catalonia except no. He has no answers except to scream at the people that “This is the law!” Catalans must bow to a political decision made 40 years ago. There will be no compromises, no negotiations.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy only knows one word of Catalan, and that word is no. He’s happy to create a catastrophe out of a crisis in Catalonia, anything to distract attention from the corruption scandals which enmesh his party and which reach even to his own office. His party said no to a new statute of autonomy for Catalonia over ten years ago even though the text of it had been approved by a large majority of Catalan voters in a referendum. It was struck down by a Spanish Supreme Court whose judges are political appointees.

Rajoy’s party said no to the Catalan education system claiming it discriminated against Spanish speakers, even though Catalonia’s bilingual education system regularly came top in Spanish educational league tables for achievement in – wait for it – the Spanish language. The Partido Popular wants to replace Catalonia’s educational system, which has been successful in creating fluency in Catalan in children who come to school without a command of the language with the system used in the Partido Popular controlled Valencian Community, which is also majority Catalan speaking, but whose education system has proven incapable of halting, never mind reversing, the language shift from Catalan to Spanish. The large cities of the Valencian Community, which only a few decades ago were majority Catalan speaking, are now overwhelmingly Spanish speaking. That suits the Partido Popular just fine, and that’s what they’ve got in mind for Barcelona, Girona, and Tarragona too. Now Madrid is going to take direct control of Catalan education. Many in Catalonia regard this as an existential threat to the future of their language, and of the Catalan people as a nation.

In 2012 Rajoy said no to a new financial settlement for Catalonia which would have given Catalonia greater control over its own resources, income and economy. He said no to a referendum in 2014. He said no again in 2017. At every turn, Catalan attempts to increase their autonomy within the Spanish state have been rebuffed and repelled. They’ve been insulted and demonised. They’ve been accused by the heirs to Franco of fascism and ethnic nationalism.

Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the central government to take direct control over an autonomous region like Catalonia. It permits Madrid to dissolve the Catalan government and remove Catalan President Carles Puigdemont from office. Rajoy claims that by activating Article 155 that he’s not stripping Catalonia of its autonomy, and he’s stopped short of dissolving the Catalan Parliament, but Saturday’s events are seen in Catalonia as a desperate attempt by Madrid to impose its will on a Catalonia that only wants the right to decide its own future for itself. Madrid has told Barcelona no, we will decide your future for you. Rajoy’s decision has to be ratified by the Spanish parliament, but in this respect he enjoys the support of the main Spanish opposition party, the PSOE (roughly equivalent to the British Labour party) who are expected to vote in support of Rajoy’s minority government.

By activating Article 155, the central government has unilaterally given itself the right to take control of Catalan finances, government administration, the devolved Catalan broadcaster, and the Catalan police force the Mossos d’Esquadra. Madrid will have the right to remove any official in the employ of the Catalan government and replace them with someone more to their liking. Further, any government employees who refuse to obey instructions coming directly from the central goverment or its agents can be sacked or even fined or find themselves subject to criminal proceedings.

The Catalan public service broadcaster TV3 will now come under the direct control of Madrid. The likelihood is that the Catalan broadcaster will now find itself taking a new direction in its reporting on the Catalan independence movement. Expect a lot more stories in the Catalan news about murrdurrs, kittens, and the fitba and a lot fewer that paint the central government in a bad light.

The crunch will come when Madrid attempts to take direct control of the Catalan police force the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Mossos intervened during the brutal and violent crackdown during the independence referendum to protect voters from the excesses of the Guardia Civil, who come under the direct control of the Spanish Interior Ministry. The chief of the Mossos d’Esquadra is currently facing charges of sedition. It is widely expected that when push comes to shove and the Mossos have to choose between Madrid or Barcelona, that they will choose Barcelona. That could lead to Madrid flooding Catalonia with yet more brutal and violent Guardia Civil officers, and yet more confrontations.

Rajoy might claim that by not dissolving the Catalan parliament he is respecting Catalan autonomy, but by invoking Article 155 he is putting severe limits on the Catalan parliament, and giving himself a veto over any motion or decision made by that parliament. All decisions of the Catalan parliament will have to be approved by an authority designated by the Spanish government.

Puigdemont is due to make an announcement at 8pm our time this evening. He’s not expected to make an unequivocal declararion of independence this evening, but he is expected to restate the right of Catalonia to self-determination and to choose its own future. Catalonia is a more uncertain place this weekend. The only certainty is that Madrid’s fresh elections will not solve this crisis, only a referendum can do that, but Mariano Rajoy remains as intransigent as ever. His intransigence risks transforming this crisis into a tragedy and all of Spain, not just Catalonia, would be a loser from that.  It’s time that Rajoy learned to say more than no.


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0 thoughts on “El cop d’estat

  1. You don’t understand! Rajoy’s aim is ot to control the crisis but to inflame it, so that he can present himself as Strong and Stable. And with Catalonia being the most prosperous part of Spain, he has successfully sold the rest of the country the unhistorical idea that independence is really a way for the Catalans to dodge paying their fair share, leaving the PSOE little choice but to play along with him.

  2. Pingback: El cop d’estat | mikeinkwazi

  3. Quite frankly this is all incredibly depressing. Only by having their own independent broadcaster has Catalonia been able to get the truth out to the people. Can’t imagine how the people must be feeling right now. To have your government basically removed, your representatives imprisoned, your tv stations taken over, your education system taken over, your language denied, and even if employed in a public service job, to be at risk of prosecution if you refuse to go along with your captors’ rule. It is a really serious situation, that should not be happening in 2017, in a modern, western country.

    Perhaps though, Spain is not so modern in mindset, certainly in the realms of government. I can think of another modern western country with a similar mindset.

    Here in Scotland, with no independent broadcaster or any media really, (except for the National, which is always to be found under the UKOK rags), the truth struggles to be heard.

    The UKgov are actually actively undermining Scotland and Scotland’s economy, it’s status as a nation where others are welcome. An American couple being deported, T.May now planning to assess all EU nationals, labelling them. They even threatened to refuse a British woman who is pregnant, hospital treatment, because she has her Polish husbands surname. So, they are saying basically that people will be refused treatment if they suspect you might not be a brit, and then if you can’t pay up, tough, no treatment. That is not how the English NHS should function. Unless it’s already privatised of course.

    The UKok stinks.

    • Yet these lot who claim to be proudScots want Scotland to stay under englands ill treatment of our nation rather than leave the bigots south of the border like your farages your clarcksons your mays your Johnsons etc if that’s being a proudscot I’d rather be an angry one

    • Well said, Hetty. While Scotland’s situation is not the same as Catalonia’s, since we are nominally “partners” in a “Treaty of Union” rather than simply an “autonomous” (hollow laughter) region of Engwaland, I do not doubt that our Lords and Masters in Westminster (and their treacherous minions North of the Border) are frantically scribbling away, taking notes on Spain’s M.O. for future reference!

      • I was just about to post this same thing, Wendy. I would put nothing past this tory government (or labour, for that matter) and at 75 I wonder if I will ever see an independent Scotland as I view what I can see of the future, with a degree of trepidation.

        • Oh, and BTW, I see that the Cabinet’s SoS for Scotland is feeling emboldened enough and is threatening to do his Rajoy impersonation re the Scottish Government.

        • Seems to me that the Spanish government has reduced Catalonia’s position to the same as Westminster has to Scotlands, they can veto everything but have so far stopped short of dissolving Parliament. The Brit Nat mafia gov is now rebranding all produce Scottish as British, this will continue. We really need to get YES organised afore things escalate here and be prepared.

          • Madrid is planning to in effect decapitate the Catalan government, replacing all the minsters and heads of dept. etc. They will be obliged to declare Indy before this can take effect, tomorrow probably?

  4. Paul,

    A new election will be run under the auspices of Madrid, which gives them the upper hand to fiddle the process, which they will do. Ultimately, any response from Catalans on this will probably just be used as an excuse by Rajoy for further direct rule.

    With a majority of foreign press, politicians and organisations on their side, Rajoy has absolutely nothing to fear from the international community, therefore he can effectively just do what he wants. Without international pressure, it’s hard to see how this situation can advance in Catalonia’s favour.

    Will Catalans be forced into violence ? possibly Rajoy’s main objective and then what ? – Marshall law of some kind ?

    I’m struggling to find a way forward for the Catalans, possibly General Strike ?

  5. Catalonia has done well though to keep its language fully developed on an equal basis with Spanish. Compare to the dismal status of Scots here.

    On the current situation, Rajoy must be nuts. Or just thick as mince. There is no way acting like this will decrease the desire for independence – quite the reverse.

    • ExactlyJohn rajoy should learn people can push back when you push them around especially with turning the Spanish police into his own band of thugs looks like Spain has its own version of maggie thacther

  6. I’m Spanish and have lived in Catalonia.
    I’ll just leave you with this, the last survey they did, 40% of catalonians want the independence wich means 60% of catalonians don’t want the independence. And I won’t go into the reasons why because I don’t want to turn this into a dissertation paper.

    • Well if that’s true why was Spain being evil if they was going to win in the vote huh seems they feared losing so bad they did what they did you should be ashamed to be Spanish after that incident

      • And you should be ashamed for talking like that, like a 12 year kid that has no arguments. I’m sorry for you, and you are the one who should be ashamed for insulting me instead of giving solid arguments.

        • Charly, Paul who writes this blog lived in Catalunya for many, many years and has an in-depth understanding of Spanish politics. Judging by your comment above in reply to Robert, it’s you who has no arguments. He didn’t insult you in any way. We’re aware that polls have shown a slight lead for the status quo, and it’s a perfectly reasonable position to ask why the Spanish state sends in the Guardia Civil in violent suppression, if in fact a marginal win for the status quo was the expected outcome.

          An opinion poll is NOT a democratic exercise, and as I understand it, previous referendums have simply been ignored by the Spanish state, so why didn’t they just do the same this time? Why did they have to send in riot police against peaceful voters and injure many thousands of people in a show of brutal violence?

          How can you, in all sincerity, defend the actions of your authoritarian government?

        • You are clearly the one who should be ashamed charlypriest. Robert made a comment which was NOT insulting at all. You simply read what you want to read and hurled an insult yourself.

          I will leave you with my opinion. Spain is an evil, Fascist and undemocratic country. Franco’s spirit lives on. The evidence past and present is clear. If I was Spanish, I certainly would be ashamed. One of my best friends, who IS Spanish, but lives in Ireland now, says that he IS certainly ashamed.

          You should read “The Ghosts of Spain” by Giles Tremlett, for enlightenment, but I expect that you will not.

    • What are your thought processes for assuming that because 40% voted for independence, 60% didn’t want it; or, did 100% actually vote?

      • Obviously nobody is allowed to reply ‘Don’t Know’ in Spanish or Catalan opinion polls. I expect doing so will attract an instant charge of sedition and incarceration without bail.

      • I’ll give you facts instead of my thought process.
        The Catalonian parliament has several political parties in it, only “la CUP” wich is an extreme left party and this other party wich they have changed names so many times people have problem keeping track of what the hell they are really called. Only these two parties wich don’t make a majority between the two in their own Catalonian parliament decided to declare the Independence and the other 3 parties were basically told to “go to hell, we are going to do whatever we want” the other 3 being PP, PSOE, Ciudadanos. So that in itself is antidemocratic.
        We also have a constitution, and Barcelona is a region part of Spain like all the other 16 we have, the Constitutional court did tell them that what they were doing was unconstitutional not Mariano Rajoy, we are a country of laws.
        Also people there live in fear, people that want to be part of Spain don’t say it outloud because their kids will get bullied in school, they themselves will get bullied by this extreme leftist minority. If you see what they teach the kids in school is amazing, you see books where they literally tell them that Spain is an invader. So since 1975 after Franco was gone and we had the transition in order to keep the Catalonias happy they gave them a lot of autonomy, so now you have all that generation having grown up with the bullshit of their extreme left leaders telling them how bad the Spanish government and that they are being opressed.
        Over 1200 companies have left Catalonia already and that not only affects them, although it does affect them more than the rest of the country so essentially they are self destructing their own people. Imagine that for some miracle they get the independence wich they won’t, most of the leaders will go to prison for subversion, but they will need a new passport, the European Union will not recognize them, they will become a 3 world country, a lot of Catalonians are already closing shop and moving to other parts of Spain to start all over again, you want all those people to suffer? Even the ones that want the independence will suffer since the banks will move out as most have done, small business as well have started to move out, so those people will be out of work and the Catalonian government broke and unable to help anybody. The funny thing by the way is that they wanted the independence but still get money from the central government and have a dual nationaliship the Catalonian and the Spanish one, that a great joke from these populists. These are some examples, I can keep going but it bores me, gonna write my incredible beautiful Shakepearian poetry, go check it out by the way,

          • Don’t worry, I’ll buy you a brain. It usually happens when you make arguments with facts, some people since they are unable to argue back they just insult. Go see my blog man! What I write there is more suited for simple minded people.

          • You’re coming across as the most thin-skinned, easily offended person ever; yet you dish out insult freely.

            I am now tempted to show you what actual insult is – but I have far too much respect for Paul’s page to lower myself to that. Suffice to say, in Scotland you KNOW when you’re being insulted. There is no grey area.

          • Don’t worry for the insults, I’ve been in the Spanish legion, homeless and in jail. I would only like to see you in person instead of fucking punks hiding behind a computer, I now live in a screwed up town wich I have actually have had to use a knife to defend me, and I can’t even count the fights I’ ve been into, I can remember the one when I broke the arm and jaw of a bouncer that;s why I ended in jail, trust me that when I say you don’t want to fuck with me you really don’t, I have a real short fuse, I get your IP adress move oceans and find you all, I’m a crazy son of a bitch, stupid punk. You really have no clue who the fuck I am and what I’m capable of. Little bitches living in their comfy places, fuck you, I’ll snap your neck in a second. There you go, I did you a favour, you didn’t have to insult me bitch.

          • Wonderful to know that Paul’s blog elicits such thoughtful, insightful and erudite comment – NOT! Were I he, I would ensure that you were never able to comment on anything I wrote ever again. There is no place for your bigotry and unpleasantness in these comment threads – those of us who are regular contributors do so for intelligent, thoughtful debate not for the schoolboy braggadocio, threats and insults which seem to be your forte. Go away and play while the grown-ups are talking!

          • Nice one Wendy. I think the late Michael Foot had it spot on when he opined that men who are so macho usually don’t have very mucho.

          • I totally agree, Charlypriest is overstepping the usual tone of debate on Paul’s blog and is acting like the MI brigade that troll , use foul language and insult Scottish independent groups

          • LMAO – you think I’m so ignorant of tech to believe the old “IP address” BS? LOL good luck, tell you what pal, I live in Paisley – it’s where Glasgow Airport is located, so it’s nice and handy for a short taxi fare – about £6 or £7 to my street. That will help you, since my IP identifies as London, Glasgow and a few other locations 😉

            Sad lonely keyboard warrior threatening violence. As if you could even land a blow on me, old man!! 😀 As you say, and right back at you – you have no clue who I am or what I am capable of. It would bring me great joy to see you here and test your resolve, you silly sausage x

          • There you go insulting everyone again, just because people do not agree with you. That itself is very telling. You seem to be the one with the problem.

            It seems to me that your diatribe of so-called facts is merely another set of opinions. Statements like “You should see ….. ” and “Imagine that ……” etc etc. These are not facts, merely your opinions.

            The only fact there is that you have a constitution. This does NOT mean that it is a good or a fair constitution. The subsequent acts of the Spanish Government suggest that it is definitely not a good and fair constitution.

            You are a TROLL.

    • If the majority did not want independence what was the problem for the fascist government?

      Why beat people who were voting?

      Surely if people did not want independence they would vote against it.

      Wait what’s that smell?

  7. Yep. You lost the sympathy vote when your Blackshirts stomped their way into peaceful voters like an bunch of football hooligans.
    After that disgraceful display I am four square behind the Catalans and if I were younger and fitter I would consider volunteering to assist them should things escalate in the way I now feel they will.
    I guess it will be the EU’s version of Prague, 1968…

  8. Excellent article Paul.

    Do you have any idea of the support in the rest of Spain for Rajoy’s repressive policy? Or would they rather have a dialogue/some form of mediation?

    Spain has to recognise the Catalan independence movement is legitimate simply because it obviously exists. Spain’s Government and King Felipe VI simply calling it illegal and refusing to sit down at a table and talk is counter-productive. And it’s an attitude that will only lead to further violence and “Ulsterization” of the issue

    There must be genuine grievances if Catalonia wants to secede. Spain can’t just say “No, they count for nothing”


    • The unspoken issue here is the Basque Country. Spain knows it defeated that militarily and with minimal political concessions. This will be in Rajoy’s mind. He is trying everything, including knowingly using insulting forms of words, to goad the Catalans into violence.

      Instead the Catalan leaders, civic and political continually emphasise serenity, determination and courage. The protests over the jailed two Jordis have been silent and candlelit.

      This is how Ghandi wrested India from the British. The Spanish can’t jail everyone and you cannot govern a people without consent. From what I’ve seen the Catalans will find lots of ways to resist in peaceful and innovative ways.

      The farmers have served notice to the Guardia Civil that they can play with them how they like. The farmers could make the countryside a no-go zone for Spanish forces if they choose to. Modern communications mean they can kettle them in roads with tractors any time they like.

      Modern tractors are big, heavy and powerful.

  9. I don’t think there is another way to describe it Paul and I don’t think there is anything of worth I could say. Rajoy has basically told the region they are all political prisoners (YES and NO voter alike). Democracy has withered in Spain and its legacy is tainted by countless images of riot police assaulting peaceful voters. I cannot now see Spain in the same way ever again.

    My heart goes out to the Catalan people and I wish them every good fortune.

    • Remember that this is the country whose leader Franco gave Hitler the go ahead to give his bombers practice by obliterating the village of Guernica. Mr Rajoy and his Government are simply responding to type by using police violence and it is utterly indefensible. Anyone who does defend or condone such use of violence to control people is just as guilty.

  10. Very good article Paul, which explained the situation in Catalonia very clearly. I was in Barcelona as an Official Observer for the Celtic League for the referendum vote. It was a very humbling experience, to stand alongside people who stood for many hours calmly waiting to vote despite the violence happening all around them. It is something I will always remember. I am keeping in regular contact with people in Catalonia and it is very inspirational to hear how they are coping with all the official pressure against them from Spain and elsewhere and yet they still keep their sense of humour; a good lesson for all of us who want independence for Scotland. I believe we are seeing in Catalonia what would have happened in Scotland if we had voted Yes in a “legal” referendum in 2014; the UK are not going to let Scotland go very easily, no matter how Scots vote. It would not be a case of “jolly well done, let us sit down and work through everything as close friends and have a really good piss up to celebrate Scotland’s Independence day”.

  11. Well said WGD. I was just watching this ‘street level’ video :


    What struck me was how ‘ordinary’ all the people looked, apart from the weather they could be Saturday shoppers in e.g. Falkirk, not your average political activists. What a nation! Why is no one standing with them? Where are all the small nations of Europe, many not long independent themselves?

    I truly hope this all ends well … and dread that it might not …

  12. I feel the same as hettyforindy. It’s incredibly depressing and there’s no doubt there are parallels for us. And that’s what makes it so depressing. The difference is the stupidity of the violence in full view of the world, which means that every step Rajoy makes now will be scrutinised from outside. I disagree with tartanfever that Rajoy has nothing to fear. Too many leaders have made critical statements, including the UN.

    Here, the government can refuse another Indyref, dismantle our parliament, micromanage our economy and essentially try to put us back in the box without much scrutiny, because they allowed a peaceful referendum in 2014 so was seen as being democratic. Like Catalonia, half our population feels they belong to the union, the other half wants independence and somehow we have to convince some of them to see Independence positively.

    The outside world doesn’t see what we do, the media bias, the outright lies, the disrespect of our FM and our people, the constant, constant derogation of anything ScotGov does. It’s wearing. On top of that we have Brexit, that massive act of xenophobic self harm, which is likely to send us back to the 70s.

    The outside sees the stupidity of Brexit, the weakness of May, the cabinet infighting, the crassness and cruelty. Does the outside see what’s happening to us? Not sure. But I think we have sort of faded into the background. So right now I feel pretty negative, but tomorrow is another day and I may feel differently. Right now, it all feels overwhelming.

  13. There is a genuine reason why the EU doesn’t express any disapproval of Spain’s treatment of Catalonia – and why it differs so much from their approach to Scotland’s desire for self-determination.

    Catalonia is seen, rightly or wrongly, as an autonomous region of Spain and not as a “nation” in its own right. Therefore, the EU cannot be seen to interfere in what, to them, is domestic Spanish politics, particularly since Spain, now that UK no longer has any traction within the EU, will be one of the “Big Three” nations of the EU, along with Germany and France. Spain is not only still a member of the club, but one which is growing in significance by virtue of Brexit.

    Scotland is supposedly a partner to a “Treaty of Union” – i.e. it is already nominally a discrete entity, a “nation”, but one which is a party to the aforesaid treaty. Furthermore, because the UK is in the process of leaving the EU, while Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain, the EU can treat Scotland’s aspirations sympathetically because the UK is already no longer seen as a member of the club!

    It’s convoluted and Byzantine … but it makes sense of a kind. Sickened and sad as I am for Catalonia and its aspirations, I don’t believe that the EU would treat Scotland in the same way, for all of the above reasons.

    • The situation in Gibraltar may also play into this- if Spain is fully backed by EU in Catalonia they may feel emboldened to use the EU to back their claim on Gib.. Or the EU maybe already looking at this prospect -hence the lack of outcry now??

    • That appears to be the long and short of it Wendy.

      It seems that until they see tanks and troops in the streets taking arms against a peaceful civilian population, the EU will continue to follow their current line (see under Turkey, who were up for membership until their current unrest). They will not involve themselves, in what they see as an internal matter of a member nation, so long as the argument is on a level settled between parliaments and the common law of that member state.

      The Spanish government sailed awfully close to the wind with the use of riot police and their legal and constitutional measures to date have been heavy handed and deliberately inflammatory to say the least. I’d also say its why their military personnel involvement to date has been termed ‘logistical support’. They are perfectly aware that as soon as any troops hit the streets, it’s a different ball game for the EU and themselves.

      However, that does not make the individual member states silence any more palatable.

    • If thats the case then how could the EU support the coup and subsequent overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Ukraine because they favoured a trade deal with Russia instead of the EU ?

      There are International treaties that clearly state foreign bodies cannot interfere with internal domestic policies of any particular countries nor it’s constitution.

      Yet the EU clearly threatened Ukraine with economic sanctions if the current government did not either change course or stand down, it promised to fund ‘citizen’ groups with millions of euro’s (those citizen groups were actually nazi groups like Svoboda and other far right groups, direct descendants of those that fought with the Nazis during WWII)

      For months on end, EU politicians demanded action, fully supporting the overthrow of Yanukovich’s government. William Hague even stood up in parliament and told us that the coup was not only constitutionally viable but also morally correct. It wasn’t.

      Regardless of what you think of Ukraine/Russia etc, the simple, undeniable fact is that the EU council and it’s members, along with many elected MEP’s are at best guilty of gross hypocrisy.

      You either abide by international treaty or you don’t – consistency is clearly not in the vocabulary of the EU which makes it completely untrustworthy as an institution.

    • The European Court of Human Rights, is underpinned by the European Convention on Human Rights, a legally binding treaty on the signatory nation states. All EU member states and nearly all other European states are signatories of this treaty.

      The European Court of Justice (as it is still known in the English speaking world) adjudicates on EU Law which, by the above treaty, must itself comply with the ECHR on matters relating to it. It thus pertains directly only to EU member states. ( EFTA members, for example, also comply with EU law but technically have their own smaller court.)

      However, the ECJ can only receive supplication if the highest domestic court in the country refers the case to them, which is never going to happen in the case of Spain v Catalonia.

      The EctHR can, however, receive supplication from groups and individuals if all local remedies have been exhausted, unless the nation state concerned has officially derogated from that default position of the treaty.

      It should be carefully noted that, unfortunately although not surprisingly, neither of those judicial bodies have a purview which extend to adjudication on secession or constitutional matters other than in as much as how those may impinge on the human rights covered by the treaty.

      However, we may consider whether Madrid has not now infringed some of those human rights by their recent action.

      Particularly the right to freedom of expression. The right not just to express one’s views but to free assembly and to receive or impart those views.

      At first glance it would appear that preventing people (or attempting to) from expressing their view in a referendum is a clear infringement of that right.

      However, there are cop outs for Madrid, the main ones being:
      [b] intervention “in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”[/b]

      Thanks to the imminent good sense of the Catalan people, despite manifest and probably deliberate provocation, most of those ‘justifications’ may be summarily dismissed.

      As far as I can see that only leaves three.

      “the protection of the reputation or rights of others”. Only if it can be considered a right of the rest of Spain to prevent the Catalan right to self expression. Legally moot but surely untenable.

      “maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary”. Even if ‘judiciary’ is taken to be the Spanish Constitutional Court, can it be truly impartial on this matter?

      Which leaves the old colonial dinosaur of ‘territorial integrity’. This is where I fear the Catalans perhaps made a mistake by making the referendum binding. I am not at all familiar with their reasons for doing so but to me, legally, the binding nature of it is tantamount to a UDI and as such may, under the ECHR allow for an intervention on territorial integrity grounds.

      If they had made it non binding, then the referendum could hardly be construed as other than a mere
      expression of opinion and would be protected from intervention from Madrid by EU law and the ECHR.

      I think a majority obtained in a non binding referendum would in effect have had no less authority, at the end of the day.

      What now?

      Well a UDI would on the face of it, place them in a similar position to Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia without even a referendum. However, with Spain being an influential member of the EU, I fear such an act would not have as positive an outcome, certainly in regard to recognition by EU member states especially the UK (which recognised Kosovo immediately).
      Also I fear Spain would not make the same mistake as Serbia in taking the case to the UN/International Court of Justice which found that Kosovo’s UDI was not illegal under international law.

      In my unqualified but considered opinion, Catalunya would be best using a new general election as a proxy referendum by having independence negotiations as the only policy on the pro indy candidate’s manifesto. Madrid could not intervene and a clear mandate could not be ignored.

      I say Madrid could not intervene but under the ECHR they technically could remove Catalonia from their list of territories entitled to free democratic elections but of course that would not be acceptable to – well anybody I suspect.

          • Thanks for that Macart. Not sure what he means re the ‘vote in December’, will endeavour to find out.

            I try to keep up with this stuff. Clearly, the EU has for many years demonstrated a progressive willing in regard to the issue of self determination and there is little doubt that the direction of travel, internationally actually, has been one away from the principle of territorial integrity and toward that of self determination.

            I have seen EU debates where the conclusions have, especially since the ICJ ruling on Kosovo, clearly recognised the international legality of self determination but still unclear on whether any of the EU statutory laws might accomodate it.

            Confusion, as ever, centres on definition.

            For example does ‘territorial integrity’ pertain only to the protection of territory threatened by another nation state or can it justifiably be used to deny secession?

            ‘Self determination’ can and has been variously interpreted as ‘individual self determination’ e.g. the right of someone to refuse medical treatment, say or that devolution is a sufficient manifestation to constitute self determination or, of course, the creation of a new state by secession.

            The EU, did, however, operate as a mediator between Serbia and Montenegro in the Montenegrin indy ref.

            In the Kosovo case, the EU is supervising the situation but still essentially under the auspices of the UN rather than EU law. However, the accommodations which have been made and the effort the EU is making in getting Kosovo ready for EU membership candidacy (there are more EU civil servants in Kosovo than in any EU member state outside of Belgium) is testament to the EU consensus support, if not yet unanimity, for Kosovo’s right to self determination.

    • A’bh NicCoinnich
      That makes a lot of sense and I agree with your reasons why the EU isn’t coming out strongly against the actions of the Spanish government. Spain is the member state, and the EU does not want to be seen to be interfering in Spenish affairs. But if the actions of the Spanish government escalate, the EC is going to have to say something, as the actions of the member state may be in contravention of the guiding principles of the EU. At the moment Spain is getting the benefit of the doubt on the legality of the referendum and the unilateral actions of the Catalan government, but if the situation escalates, that position becomes untenable. And Spain’s comments about the Belgian president’s statement have not gone down well.

  14. Rajoy appears determined to start another Civil War in Catalonia as there is no way the people there will accept direct rule from Madrid, particularly after the barbarity displayed on October 1st. Direct rule will mean the Spanish authorities will apply the ley mordaza to most civic activities and that will only inflame the situation further. You thought our public order laws were harsh…

    The rhetoric from Rajoy and his Ministers provides little encouragement or comfort that a peaceful outcome is the predominant goal. He seems determined to impose his rule of law by force if necessary, dismissing all calls for dialogue or mediation, as if draconian measures will deter further dissent. His government have much to learn.

    To the Catalonian people; “nemo me impune lacessit”

      • That reminds me, Wendy, once way back in the day when the SNP still only had one or two MPs at WM and devolution was hardly on the horizon, there was some sort of march in Stirling, and I happened to be in town that day. The weather must have been fine initially, but as they say, it rained on their parade, in fact they’d got caught in a sudden torrential downpour. So when they passed me they were a rather sad sight, like a bunch of drowned rats, the puir wee thangs. And I thought something like, “You think you can take on WM and the entire British Establishment — Some hope!” But the march went on all the same. And after the first DevoRef was lost, the march went on, from strength to strength. At the very least it seems to be a one-way street, just wish things were moving a little faster for all our sakes 😉

        • No the frist one yes won it labour put that 40% rule in because they might lose which they did shows westminster doesn’t respect any vote that goes against them especially ones that benefit Scotland then labour tried to sabotage our parliament being built after they lost again in the 2nd vote under Blair labour like the conservatives are traitors to Scotland how anyone supports those backstabbers is beyond me

    • It is very inspiring and actually puts us very much in the shade.
      Around half of our population prefer to stay on their knees and in their fantasy comfort zone.

  15. Spanish Foreign Minister yesterday on BBC said much of footage of police violence in Catalonia was fake news.

    Joanne Cherry QC SNP MP was there and had article refutting lies in the Scotsman.

    • That’s all he came up with was fake news sorry but people who was there posted on the net pics of what happened rajoy is a lying bastard excuse my language but he is and a coward to afraid of the consequences of his actions hence the denial

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  17. Interesting analysis in a Guardian comments section on Catalonia. Not sure I agree with the author’s view of the Holy Roman Empire, but it provides a different context nonetheless.

    “There is a growing crisis is Europe, inevitable because of the very success of the EU, and its continued drive towards greater integration, however fraught with controversy. One order, once the founding order, is resisting becoming the ‘old order’ that has to pass away… Let me explain.

    The success of the EU, in particular in its Schengen area, and its growing integration, was at first the result of the individual nation states coming together to found it, largely in the name of preserving the peace, which it has done brilliantly. But EU growth is now hindered by those same states as they cling to an ever more outmoded sovereignty. With the Schengen convention, with the free movement of goods and people, national borders have become irrelevant.

    France and Germany may have fought repeatedly in pre EU days over the Alsace: now it no longer matters, aside from economic policy, or local identity. Italy is the result of the Risorgimento conquest (or, in Roman times, of straightforward aggression over centuries), and ‘Britain’ of centuries, in some cases millenia, of aggression against its once native celtic populations. Spain is result of conquest like Britain, and like Britain, dynastic maneuvers. Germany is a Prussian imperial creation. France suppressed local independence and then shattered local identities with the fragmentation of its departments. The list in Europe is endless.

    What Europeans have failed to grasp is that within the EU, with just that free movement of goods and people, these imperial states have lost their raison d’être. What practical difference does it make if Catalonia is its own state, and Spain its own state without Catalonia, when within the EU there is no meaningful border, and you can live in Spain, and work in Catalonia, or live in Scotland and work in England, or… ? None, whatsoever. As in the US, it makes no difference if you work in New York City, and live in Connecticut. Yes, in America there is a national citizenship: in Europe, cultural zones more or less organized into imperial states.

    Huge problems face the EU: greater democratization— resisted by the national elites; a sharing of the wealth— resisted by the rich nations at the expense of the poor; a rewriting of the constitution so that the EU can meet these obligations of growth— resisted by the national elites, and too often by the people who would benefit who are denied a thorough participation in a democratic EU and so experience it as a foreign bureaucracy (created by the national elites!).

    This is just the beginning of a hugely difficult process in Europe. With continued success and integration, the EU becomes a state, not like the American, but the Roman or once meaningful Holy Roman Empire— many peoples, many cities, many varying degrees of statehood, all within and subordinate to a greater whole, made up of cultural zones more than anything else. The difficulty of this is apparent— just look look at the ugly racism and divisiveness deliberately played up by Brexit, at the xenophobia provoked simply by the internal migration of fellow Europeans!— which feeds the ugly ‘blood and soil’ rightwing reactionary, populist movements across the EU. Even in a unitary federal state like the US we see a belated rightwing reactionary opportunist in the White House with no understanding of anything.

    This is the just the start of a hugely confused, conflicted time.”

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