Some questions… #1.5: What about France?

As part of my apparently ongoing series of Questions for a Catalan Independentist, this post poses a question that wasn't in my original post.

Actually, this is a topic I've been thinking about grillz recently, thanks to the input of an uninterested friend who knows something about geopolitics in Europe. Indeed, it's one issue that I don't think I've ever seen answered by Catalan independentists. It comes down to a simple problem: would France ever allow an independent Catalan state to be declared on its border?

Before you start immediately by saying "I don't care, they'll just have to accept it", allow me to offer some thoughts. France is one of the two key powers in Europe. It's on the UN Security Council. It's a centre for international diplomacy. Isn't it likely that should France choose to block the establishment of a new state on its borders (and one which, let's face it, would likely have at least some parliamentarians dedicated to the restoration of Catalunya Nord to the Catalan state), is there anything Catalonia could really do? Not being recognised by Spain is of huge importance. Not being recognised by France might be difficult to overcome.

So the question is: What about France? Do you really think France would stand for what it might see as the first of several new states springing up on its borders? Doesn't this gravely affect the independence argument?

123 thoughts on “Some questions… #1.5: What about France?

  1. Well if you really believe in independence then France's opinion on the matter is of little interest. What is France going to do anyway? Threaten to invade? They could make life very difficult for an independent Catalan state perhaps even prevent it from joining the EU, but with the objective of forcing it back into Spain? I admit it creates a difficult situation but the French would only find some justification for their response if the new country started claiming part of French territory.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    1. But they do already … whilst attempting to retain what they themselves acquired by 'right of conquest' ie Valencia, Balearics, etc … It is clearly a policy of 'what is mine is mine and what is yours is ours'. A lot of money is diverted to teach Catalan in French schools and to encourage the development of a 'national identity' in those French areas bordering the Pirenees. You would be surprised at the bold, naked hypocrisy they use in their arguments.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Yes, I find this argument very unconvincing. To me, it's like saying, well if the blacks insist in sitting in the front seats of buses they may find opposition from recalcitrant whites, so they might as well give up. Are you kidding me or what? Seriously, I don't think this is a serious issue, at least for now. When the time comes, we'll make sure we have support from at least one atomic power, preferably the US or the UK. The English have a historic debt to Catalonia since the great betrayal of 1714, so I suspect they would align themselves with us.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  3. If you expect the UK to acknowledge historic debts of any kind, never mind those from 1714, then you may be in for a big disappointment. Anyway, I don't think it'll come to a nuclear standoff?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      1. Everybody for the independence of Catalonia (whatever Catalonia that is) because they're in for a nuclear standoff. It just what we need.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  4. El Primo I hope you're not equating what's happening in Catalunya to the civil rights struggle in the US. Because if you are, that's as vulgar as Glenn Beck claiming the mantel of MLK. Last I checked, Catalan weren't enslaved and sent to South America to work on farms. Your children weren't taken from you and sold to be a Spaniard's house servant. You were never considered property and not a human. You were never lynched on with impunity while your leaders were assassinated for centuries not decades. Even during the worse of Franco's times, you could own a house, earn a wage, marry the person you love. Please. hyperbolic and historically incorrect analogies like this do you no favor.

    Second while it might not be important to you, take a poll and see the support for independence if there's no inclusion in the EU. I imagine it wouldn't be higher than 10%. And it's not just France but Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. None of the would support inclusion because of what it would do to their own domestic issues. Seriously, the UK owes you a debt? WTF. Talk about delusions of grandeur. Do you think most people know what happened in 1714? And that's relevant nearly 300 years later, how? As for the US. Again, why? Maybe if the mossos agree to start torturing people. You could be like Albania and cut a free trade deal. I mean if Catalunya is as strong as you say, why be dependent on other countries for your independence? I'd be much more supportive if you'd suggested the island of Mauritius as an example. But that type of society will never happen there.

    Like: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    1. Good heavens. Did you learn propaganda techniques at the same school as Candide? First, I did not equate anything. What I did is generalise the argument that Tom laid out and apply it to a different situation. There's nothing hyperbolic or historically incorrect about that. If this is a valid argument against the struggle for independence, it is also a valid argument against the struggle for civil rights. Or against any struggle, in fact. If you think it's not, please explain to us how that would be. Second, and most important, I think you lost the plot in the second paragraph.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      1. "To me, it's like saying" and "I did not equate anything" go together soooo well.

        Can we please get some quality Cataloonies for this thread? I mean those who really deal with the issues.

        Admitted, they're hard to get into any debate because they're just fine implementing their fascist policies and won't stoop to the level of actually having to defend them before a critical audience.

        So we'll have to make do with what we know is happening and deal with the issues based on the raw facts. Fine for me.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  5. Nin spoke about France, briefly:

    http://www.thebadrash.com/2010/06/11/some-questions-for-a-catalan-independentist/#comment-84950

    I thought I did too, but cannot find it. I am quite sure I have made a point about what can be called the domino effect: if Catalonia goes, so does Euskadi (let's ask about France again), maybe Galicia, and whoelse. I am also sure that somewhere I have asked what Catalonia we're talking about. The present Autonomous Community or the whole of the "Catalan Lands"? And if I haven't, I do so now.

    I can see France, Italy and Andorra getting a wee bit itchy about the issue, because we might not be talking interior Spanish borders only. In fact, I quite believe that Catalan independentism won't stop before taking it all, because that's not only it's raison d'être, its main argument is the "self-determination" of a nation.

    And that nation is, obviously, not the Autonomous Community, but all Catalans. We should once and for all be very clear about this very basic point. Especially because the term "Nation of Catalonia", in reference to the Autonomous Community, has already become official in this AC. So more than a smokescreen covering real intentions we are faced with a fallacy as huge as Montserrat that, if not opposed, will be taken as fact.

    I think it is justified to ask this question #1.5, especially given France's political importance. Blocking Catalonia's entry into the EU is an easy thing to do that would have a huge effect on the (now still imagined) new state's economy. Just see how Greece deals with Macedonia, sorry, the FYROM.

    Needless to say, I agree with Jeremy on all the points he has made, or was forced to make.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. Seriously el primo, spreading propaganda? Are you saying the history of African-Americans wasn't like that? And since it's not the first time people in favor of independence evoked the civil right movement in the US, I take it this is a common meme. And as I said, given what African-Americans went through compared to Catalans, I find this comparison insulting. To answer your question: civil rights and independence movements are different. Civil rights deals with basic human rights of individuals such as equality, freedom against repression and is usually a domestic issue. None of those are applicable to the independence movement in Catalunya as it stands today. During Franco's time it would've been applicable to some degree. Of course, there was no mass protest at the time, no willingness to face down violence for a cause, no sustained effort to bring international attention to the plight. Why? Fear, the Spanish trait of being comfortable with the status quo? You tell me. I thought Catalans were different. Elsewhere in the world people were fighting against repressive governments and dying. Why not in Catalunya?

    To become an independent country, you need international recognition, so while you dismiss Tom's point, France's reaction and others does play a role. Especially since the whole argument for independence is predicated on acceptance in the EU. Common sense and historical precedent shows countries act in their own self-interest. Tell me: Why would the UK, Belgium, Holland, Italy, or France support Catalunya's entry into the EU if it led to problems internally with their own regions who claim historical independence? A much more likely scenario is to say F you and make life as difficult as possible to prevent their own breakups. It may not be pleasant, but that's realpolitik for you. My basic problem with the Catalan independence movement is that there's no moral imperative. You're free to speak the language you want, do what you want, live how you want. The basic rational is: We want to keep all our money, to hell with the rest of you. It sounds like something out of an Ayn Rand novel.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    1. Primo's words are always a kind of singularity that pulls you into the universe of nonsense.

      The answer to the question proposed is that yes, France would have to be worried and thus would act against the independence of Catalonia.

      If there is an alternative answer I hope it comes forward with arguments that do not bring us dangerously close, again, to the event horizon of primo's words.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    2. Jeremmy, what are you trying to say? That the struggle for civil rights in America is not comparable to the struggle for independence because they are different things? Is that what you're saying? Everything is different from everything else. So, what? This doesn't mean that a comparison is automatically invalid. In the context of the original argument and my counter-argument, it's enough to say that both the struggle for civils rights and the struggle for independence are struggles. Since both things are struggles (i.e., have this thing in common), my comparison is perfectly apt and the analogy is valid. If you feel insulted by a valid analogy I think it's entirely your problem.
      Then, your remark about Catalans not fighting against Franco's regime (factually incorrect) and your opinion that there's no moral imperative for the independence of Catalonia (irrelevant), I don't know if you're trying to divert attention and smudge the issue at hand or you're genuinely confused. Whatever it is, I've already made my point in my previous comment, and there is no need for me to repeat myself.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  7. I've got to say that I'm surprised by the general response to this question, namely that it makes no difference.

    Even if this is nothing more than an academic exercise (though I'm not sure we've quite advanced to that point yet), surely it makes sense to try and objectively predict the reality of what would almost certainly be a unilateral declaration of independence. In such a hypothetical event, two countries in particular would be strongly opposed: Spain, which would be seriously damaged by Catalonia becoming independent, and France which would be faced with the very possible reality of two new smaller states on its borders with historic claims to French territory.

    If you don't think that failing to have French support is a massive issue for Catalan independence, I'm afraid you're not thinking things through. The point of this question isn't to make anyone who supports independence to pack up their things, go home and forget about it. The point is that diplomacy plays a much bigger role in matters like this than you seem to be considering.

    What if Spain responded with military occupation (which it almost certainly would, unless the constitution had been amended, and even then secession could probably trigger a coup anyway)? Without France as *at least* neutral, Catalonia would be pretty screwed.

    I guess my reasoning is: if you want independence, try to get the French on-side, at least tacitly, beforehand.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    1. Diplomacy, that's a great point. Actually, many efforts are being made to "internationalise" the Catalan question and to gain sympathy especially in Europe (ACN, EMMA and many more). Can they ever be enough to bring France on board? Can diplomacy outweigh the possibility of, sooner or later, losing Pyrénées-Orientales?

      I do not agree that Spain would send in the army after a simple declaration of independence. I think that both the government and the army are pretty aware that this would not be tolerated internationally. A different thing is if there is an open and possibly armed conflict within Catalonia, so that the army would have to intervene to protect its citizens. Hurts a lot to bring this up, because that's when Pandora's box is wide open.

      What I find interesting is that you bring up the possibility of a coup d'état. Pas mal! I've never thought of it. Why do you think this would happen?

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      1. I think the chances of Spanish military intervention in Catalonia are more significant than those of civil war/insurrection. Most people here don't mind that much either way. If the declaration of independence was sufficiently pluralist (my, that's a big if), I think people here would be pretty accepting of it, whatever their background.

        What little I know of the Spanish armed forces suggests that it is a corp far less modern than the rest of the country. Encounters with people in or connected with various branches of the armed forces have left me pretty convinced that should any region seek to break away from the state, the armed forces would demand that the government act to stop it.

        Then we get into an even greyer area, if that's possible. I know nothing of the current or future officer cadre. But with the right set of circumstances, I don't think that something resembling a coup would be impossible. 'Probably', as I said above? Maybe not.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. Again, I hate to say it, but armed conflict can be spawned quite easily, just needs a couple of dozens guns.

        I do agree that if there's an 80% vote for independence then it's a done deal in Catalonia. But what about a 51-49 split? Yes, there's where you mentioned the big if.

        What if there is a huge minority against it?

        Ok, let's put that at rest for a while. I do deal with people from the army, they're neither devils nor idiots. In your mind the coup d'état would come from them? While they might have strong views on what they'd call "the territorial unity of Spain" I have never perceived any willingness to interfere in politics. There still might be the odd general or colonel with extreme views, but it would have to be a very political figure, or be under political influence. This is quite theoretic. I really need more beef on that to find it credible.

        Nothing is impossible. But to make it an issue it should at least be likely.

        Back to civil strife in Catalonia. I don't know if that is likely. It's just very easy to organise. And there are more hotheads on the streets than in the barracks, and on either side anger is at least (and logically) more visible than with the officers. The most radical stuff I have seen or heard has come from the net and the press. This exists openly and therefore is something one has to take into consideration.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    2. Tom, I know diplomacy is important. I'm saying that while Spain and France are local powers (if that), they cannot do anything once a major power backs the independence. You think the Chinese wouldn't love a base of operations in the Mediterranean? 'Course they would. So, what you do is go talk to the Americans. You tell them: look we're going to declare independence, if you don't back us up will have to make a deal with the Chinese. If the Americans don't agree, then we WILL go talk to the Chinese. Or the Russians. The possibilities are endless.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      1. I'm not so sure the Chinese would go with that. In fact, that sort of plan is exactly the way you'd guarantee Spain/NATO military intervention.

        France is still considered a major power, for what that's worth.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. We're getting sucked into the vortex again.

        The Americans will give a flying horseshit about Catalonia. This is the turf of the EU, and even intervening in the Balcans took them ages and was only possible under very specific circumstances.

        Same with the Chinese, who actually stick to a policy of non intervention. They have no bases anywhere. The Chinese do expansion by trade, and they do that pretty well.

        Catalonia is not the centre of the world. Catalonia is not and will never be a global player, nor anything global players would ever be interested in. Except it threatens their vital interests such as territorial integrity, which brings us back to France.

        Because France, by all standards, is a global player. Insulting them by calling them "local power" is just the diplomacy you need to make a new friend.

        If all Cataloonies were this smart I'd be quite happy, because then it would be easier to oppose all their other preposterous ideas and get the issue over with in no time.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      3. Tom, France is considered a major power for historical reasons, but in reality they're nothing of the sort. The French military is not an army that can effectively conduct large-scale operations overseas. They have an only aircraft carrier, which means they would struggle to gain air superiority even against a Third World country. I'm not saying that they are totally rubbish, they'd probably be able to invade a small island or two, but one thing is certain: calling France a "global player" is wide of the mark.
        Anyway, the plan I explained before was intended to illustrate how easy it is to come up with a plan that has a decent chance of being successful. Of course, since I only spent one minute thinking my plan, I'm sure it's far from perfect and can be improved in a number of ways. In the end, likely none of this will be necessary, as the French don't care much about Spain. For decades they completely ignored Eta commandos roaming their country, pretending it was none of their business. I'd be surprised if they opposed the least resistance to a region of Spain going independent.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      4. We now measure the importance of a country solely by its military power, and that by the number of aircraft carriers? Yes, France has only one (globally among the biggest and most modern; with a new supercarrier projected for commission within 5-6 years), and so have Russia, Great Britain, China and Thailand. Spain and Italy have 2.

        France has one of five permanent seats in the UNSC, is one of the leading members of NATO (with French being the other official language besides English of this organisation), is a founding member of the EU and one of its pillars, is a framework nation of the Eurocorps, is a member of the G-8 and one of the largest economies of this planet. France also has a huge cultural influence, suffice it to only name the OIF ("égalité, complémentarité, solidarité").

        So let's talk about French diplomacy again and its importance for Catalonia ("language, culture, country", which I always read as "one language, one culture, one country).

        Primo, mon gars, tu dis des bêtises incroyables.

        By all rules of conspiranoia you could be seen as an agent provocateur of the Spanish CNI. And no Catalan here to put you in your place.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      5. Oups, the vortex of nonsense had me so much that I forgot to say: the French do not need an aircraft carrier to deal with Catalonia: it's not "overseas".

        There's a an armoured brigade at Besançon, that together with the special forces from Pau and some guys on skies can ruin any dreams for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Barcelona and put the border back where it belongs.

        Although I personally think that 20 gendarmes on bicycles would be enough.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. If I may, I'll try to bring the debate forward a bit. Let me pick up at something Jeremy has said: comparing Catalan national aspirations to the struggle for civil liberties is an insult to all those who are or have been oppressed.

    I insist on this point because insult seems indeed to be a "common meme" (Jeremy) of Catalan nationalist discourse. Many of you will remember how upset I got when Rab likened the old Yugoslavia and Spain. I then, too, called this an insult, an insult to all those who had struggled for freedom in Yugoslavia. Rab has since then dropped off the radar, heeding my advice that he either rectify or go into the corner and stay silent.

    I also found it insulting to the French to call them a local power "(if that)", and "nothing of the sort" of a major power, as we can read some comments above.

    That made me think a bit and I found that the meme is not only present on blogs, where we have already accepted that bad education abounds. Insulting foreign correspondents is one whole new sports in Catalonia. It is how the CNA, the English language branch of Catalonia's official news agency ACN, has come into existence. The CNA claims to be necessary because correspondents in Madrid are totally under the influence of the "centralist" Madrid press, something that insults not only those journalists as not doing their job properly, but also the reader, because the reader perfectly knows that such sources as the internet, satellite-TV and the Catalan press can also be found in Madrid. And they know that the so-called "centralist" press in Madrid is much more plural than the CNA admits.

    There is also an infamous interview by Catalunya Ràdio

    http://www.catradio.cat/audio/508868/V%C3%ADctor-Mallet-corresponsal-a-Espanya-del-Financial-Times

    I hope they keep it online forever. It was too much even for Emma, which is saying a lot.

    On the net and in the press, whenever a foreigner disagrees with the locally ruling opinion, he or she is being insulted and treated with contempt and has to suffer the patronising attitude of those who know better because they are Catalan.

    Even the Catalan government participates directly in those efforts, as shown in 2009 after The Economist dared to publish an article all of its own and without consulting the echelons of power. All hell broke loose.

    Now, when we talk about the necessity for diplomacy the horrible self-righteousness of Catalan activism is entirely counter-productive. Arrogance, manipulation and insults do not earn you many friends.

    That said, I also remember how some defendants of the use of Spanish in Catalonia demonstrated with the Star of David attached to their clothings. This is just the same kind of insulting hyperbole, which makes me conclude that at the core of the insults lies a mentality issue shared by all sides. And that in turn means that culturally the opposing sides are not so different from each other.

    This attitude seems to be in contradiction to the efforts, by the same groups, to create awareness about a perceived problem, and to find allies in solving it.

    Catalonia is certainly not interested in alienating France.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Very simply, foreign correspondents in Madrid DON'T do their job properly. With regard to issues arising in Catalonia and other (to them) peripheral areas, they just do not get up off their behinds and report on them from the ground.
      And the independentist movement is precisely about civil liberties, pace Candide. I encourage my independentist colleagues to ditch terms like "freedom" and "liberty" precisely because they are ridiculous, but a political movement as seen in the Barcelona Dececeix/10A group is centred on the right to decide and the right to have processes as voted by the people recognised by the Spanish state.
      The annulment last year of various provisions in the Catalan Statute (approved by all political parties here and also voted in a referendum) by a Constitutional Court which was invalid and politically-controlled is exactly the illegal violation of rights which calls for a response of civil protest under the banner of "social justice".
      In my own case, that was the moment of truth when I became committed to the independentist movement. If the Spanish political process is so stultified and instransigent, and respects the rights of a major group within its borders so little, the only possible solution is a clean break. One which would do Spain a great favour, incidentally, by obliging it to recast its hidebound and ineffective constitution.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      1. Your bold assertions about foreign correspondents might need some bolstering.

        Are Catalans suddenly above the law? Is process as voted by Catalans to be extended all over Spain? Does the democracy now mean that a part of the people can rule over the whole of them?

        At any point you're free to say: I want total self rule. Period. Then have your referendum tomorrow. If this is what Catalonia wants, then may Catalonia say so. They have political representatives for it. For the time being, the political representatives are not saying so, and the NGO-referendum has a turnout of about 20%.

        My advice is to try and avoid insults, manipulations and all what comes down to social engineering along that way. It will earn you few friends. I think that's the point I was making. Is it an understandable one?

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      2. New data: listening to Catalunya Ràdio today (no, I am not used to give my ear to COPE) the number was 39. 39% of Catalan mother tongue speakers are there in Catalonia.

        Which means that a 20% turnout in that NGO thingy is a pretty good one. And it describes a profound split in this society.

        Anybody got an idea what's got to happen next?

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. I actually find almost all analogies used in today's political discourse insulting whether it's comparing whatever dictator people want to overthrow to Hitler or saying anyone against war is Neville Chamberlain. Few situations are equal thus difficult to compare.

    I think Candide does touch on a point which is the disconnect between what Catalunya really is and what nationalists think it is. This is not unique to the region and can be found with nationalists of almost every country. Although the difference between reality and perception in this case is really unbelievable.

    Who would speak for Catalunya? Who would speak for France? The natural alliance would be between parties who both want independence but this would only push Madrid and Paris closer together. Most major political parties of Europe have good relations with the like minded national parties of Spain. It's not in their interest to ferment disunion of a member state. This isn't the middle ages when Europe was comprised of great powers trying to undermine each other by promoting instability with its neighbors.

    I don't think the EU is in favor of establishing the precedent of encouraging parts of member states to declare independence, then turn around and ask to be a member. Especially when there's no real oppression going on apart from in some people's minds. The moral hazard would be too great since most countries in Europe have at least one area that came claim way back when they were an independent nation that had suffered by an oppressive capital. In know the wounds are still raw in Spain. But still, would the EU really want that headache with all that's going on in the world today?

    And I don't think there'll be troops on the streets. There's no need. By EU law it only takes on country to veto membership. Slovenia did it to Croatia. France did it to England during the first expansion fearing the US's influence. Basically the choice would be independence but outside of the EU or remain in Spain and stay European? Given that choice how do you think most people in Catalunya would vote?

    More than anything, I think there's a shift that's occurring away from identity/nationalistic politics of the last sixty years to more economic centric one similar to what predated it. The halcyon days of those battles was the sixties and seventies. In many ways this is a good thing. The left won those battles, but at an economic cost. So discussing independence is fighting yesterday's wars while losing to the enemy of today's.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Behind the question put to us stands the larger one: Would an independent Catalonia (speaking of the territory that is today an Autonomous Community of Spain) claim territories of France, Spain, Italy and, possibly, Andorra? For those inclined to answer with a no, do these states have to fear that such claims might arise even at a later stage? Or would they have to worry about restive Catalan minorities claiming to be integrated into Catalonia? Would these minorities not be able to make the same claim of having "the right to decide" that is so fashionable in today's Catalonia?

    Even if the problem just exists in the perception of the neighbouring states (including Spain in this case), should there be done something about it in the way of assuring them that they have nothing to fear? And if so, who should do it? The government of the new state, those parties that openly propose independence, all the parties, the government of the Autonomous Community, the Catalanist movements all across the "Catalan Lands", or everybody in a concerted effort? And if it is to be done, when would they have to start gearing their diplomacy up to that level? Is it something that can be left for later?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. That's question 19: "How would you deal with other parts of the 'Catalan Countries'? Would you seek their absorption?"

      I'd rather have that debate on a future thread. For what it's worth, I suspect that with independence out of the way, many Catalan politicians would have no choice but to turn to expansion into the Països Catalans as a political objective. It would be the only logical position for them to take.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. Yeah, sorry to hit it off on this one. Just felt like I had to wrap it up, and you did get me started 🙂

        BTW, you also got me started on the coup d'état issue. If it seemed to you that I tried to brush it off, then I apologise. It's still spinning in my head and maybe this issue, too, deserves its own thread.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Second part: If the independence of Catalonia is accepted by everybody affected, would this create a precedent for Euskadi, which is in a similar situation, and beyond? And if so, what does this tell us?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Third part: what about those who in an new state would constitute a cultural minority? Would their former states have to worry about them receiving a correct treatment? And if so, what should such a new state do, or those who now propose it? And again, when? Can this wait for later?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. That's it. Sorry if this looks like spam again.

    These are real issues dealt with in the real world before, and they will be dealt with in the future. They have not been debated within Catalanist circles, except for the occasional and almost categorical claims that "we are peaceful people" and "we have the right".

    "What about France" is one of the most important questions. And it was high time someone put it on the table.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. The doubts of Spain or France are not directly relevant. International projection of Catalonia as a nation is highly important in the run-up to an independence process, but given the case that Catalonia is in a position to claim independence 5 to 10 years from now, it will be a unilateral process.
    Then everyone else will simply have to "like it or lump it". Even without official recognition, de facto recognition will follow. Because no other action short of direct intervention will be possible.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Can you explain how you come to that 5-10 years horizon? And Catalonia "is in a position to claim independence" then how, why and based on what?

    Are you aware that the comments before yours, just like the gist of the issue put before us by Tom, were basically not about military intervention but about the harm that can come to Catalonia if, once independent, countries like France block it from getting into the EU?

    Can you come to answer some of the questions above or do you find them all so irrelevant that you are free to fully ignore them and categorically say: we'll just do it, no matter what?

    Do you think a Nike slogan is enough to make politics?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Hi, I'd love to reply in full but I can't right now because I'm really busy – with volunteer work for Barcelona Decedeix 10A, ironically. I promise I'll check in again in a couple of days to continue with this interesting debate. Cheers for now…

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. This is an interesting question. I find it hard to envision a situation in which a majority for independence could be achieved in the medium term, there just isn't the strength of feeling or unanimity of opinion necessary. It may be possible in the long term (20-30 years +) but it depends on how successful the nationalist education system has been in "educating" Catalans of very diverse backgrounds into their own interpretation of Catalnità.

    However, let's assume the spanish economy blows up, and Catalonia has a referendum which gets a generous 55-60% (the only way I can see this happening is if there is an right-wing anti-immigrant central government, which pushes New Catalans and some Xarnegos into the arms of the nationalists, but I don't own a crystal ball). In these circumstances both France and Spain would probably veto EU membership.

    Now, Spain's future veto would be common knowledge during the campaign, France's almost certainly would be too. Could a referendum even be won if it meant Catalonia would be expelled from the EU? I don't believe it could. The nationalist bourgeoisie, would never vote itself out of the EU. This is especially true when you look at the immense degree of autonomy Catalonia already enjoys, they'd look at the situation and think "what would I actually gain from this?". The answer would be nothing.

    The only short-term way to get independence within the EU is for the Spanish state to go mad and start massacring people in Catalonia, thus creating a situation where the UN dictates terms and Catalonia is admitted to the EU while Spain is suspended temporarily or even expelled. This may have been an option even as late 1986, but I don't see how it could happen today.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Whilst this question is a great conversation starter, I think is a little mis-leading in direction, as it is not just the opinion of France that counts, but the reaction and acceptance of the EU and the international community in general that will determine the success of a secession attempt.

    Key to Catalunya is the issue of EU membership, which is currently a grey area, as there is no precedent. Without studying international law, and the EU constitution in great detail it is impossible to know what would happen. While there are various EU resolutions declaring the support of self-determination, technically a new country would still be required to go through the full application process.

    However, given that Catalunya is already a part of the EU, there is a possibility that the new independent state (technically two states, as Spain would also be 'new' in that it would be different to the state that originally joined) would be granted status as everything is already in place already. It would be practically impossible for an independent Catalunya to have closed borders, so it would probably be automatically included in the Schengen Area. The same is true of the currency – it would be both practically and economically impossible to create a new currency. In practice, it would be incredibly difficult to un-twine all of Catalunya's relationships, agreements, and actions with the EU that are currently in place. There are many inter-community and cross-border projects that the current autonomous community are involved in that could not be stopped if independence was declared.

    Therefore, I feel that if independence were to be sought, it would have to be with the explicit support of the EU (the institution, if not each individual country within) otherwise there would be no practical route forward. Whether this would be possible without the agreement of all member countries is up for debate, as currently the EU parliament can take decisions without the consent of each and every member state.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    1. Forget the Parliament. New members have to go through the Council. There, France or any other member state can block them.

      Spain would continue to be member state of the EU, because the "new" Spain-without-Catalonia would not be a new state. Its constitution would still be the same, the state as such would not cease to exists or change in any legally important way if it loses any of its territories. Catalonia, in turn, would be a new state. Members of the EU are states, Catalonia is not a state, hence should it become one it would have to apply for new membership. Spanish citizens living in Catalonia are certainly citizens of the EU, because they're citizens of a member state. The territory of Catalonia is EU-territory because it's part of a member state. EU-law is valid in Catalonia because Catalonia is part of Spain.

      I, too, have seen a very benevolent paper that circulates among independentistas:

      http://www.cercleestudissobiranistes.cat/files/pdf/contDinamicos/informe_CES_ampliacio_interna.pdf

      And even here the author admits that ultimately it's a political question, not a purely legal one.

      That brings us back to the question of France, and French politics.

      So we have to ask again: do you agree that France could block Catalonia from becoming an EU member state? And if so, does Catalonia have to worry about that? "Doesn't this gravely affect the independence argument?"

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      1. Some minor points: Schengen is now part of the aquis, and whatever cross-border relations Catalonia has now might or might not continue according to what its partners in those relationships see fit to do. There might be some legal limbo here, but in any case none of this would have much influence on Catalonia's status or the international recognition thereof.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. Bien sûr, c'est évident ! La France pourrait bloquer la adhésion de l'Union européenne de l'état neuf Catalane (en fait, c'est probablement certaine!)

        However, I'm still of the opinion that considering that there is no precedent, and given the high level of EU integration in the current Catalunya, the situation could not be viewed in the same light as any other non-member state. The current level of cooperation could not simply vanish overnight, and may therefore determine how the situation would be resolved.

        I don't think it affects the argument, however it certainly affects the process.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      3. I agree that Schengen has no affect on the legal situation or international recognition, however it, and the other practical aspects of the current situation do affect what would happen.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Also, to try to add something to a few of the comments posted earlier, given international law, it would also be practically impossible to just declare independence and say that other countries would simply have to accept it. I'm afraid that wouldn't actually be very smart, as a country's official status required the acceptance of the UN and the international community, else it will continue as before in the world's eyes. To what gain independence, if there is no one who recognizes it, and subsequently no chance of international status, agreements, trade, etc?

    I recommend you all read this article:

    http://mundorama.net/2011/02/22/the-principle-of-self-determination-and-the-right-of-territorial-integrity-a-legal-and-a-political-issue-por-henrique-santos-costa-de-souza/

    as it outlines the current legal situation pertaining to a declaration of independence, and the factors that can determine success.

    I wil highlight the author's summarizing paragraph, as I feel it very applicable to this debate:

    "A de facto country is born, usually, as an expression of its people’s own intention to be recognized as an independent country, which would be considered the sublime appliance of the principle of self-determination. Nevertheless, although self-determination has been recognized as an international human right principle, it should not threaten the territorial integrity of a sovereign state. For the international legal order to be respected, the recognition of a newborn state should only occur with the consent of its territorial state, as it happened in East Timor and South Sudan cases. The unilateral secession is not included on the right of self-determination due to the internationally recognized principle of the territorial integrity. A pacific and negotiated secession is an example to be followed. The international law must not support separatist movements against a legitimately established Government."

    Catalunya may have some difficulty with this, as currently, I can't see a future in which Spain would agree to secession, and therefore there would probably be major opposition from other EU members, and the wider international community. Spain does not even recognize Kosovo, recognized by almost all other major Western powers. To suggest that China would recognize an independent Catalunya is absurd, as China has it's own issues with Tibet and Taiwan's separatist movements. China has not recognized any of the recently declared independent states that have not had the agreement of both the sovereign and separatist states (and some that have!)

    The ideal situation for Catalunya would be to follow the path of Montenegro, in which independence is declared with the agreement of Spain, and the subsequent recognition of the UN, and all other international organizations. However, realistically the route would be more likely to be closer to that of Kosovo where Serbia will not accept their wishes, and therefore some of the major powers have held back their recognition (principally China and Russia, in addition to Spain as mentioned before) which had led to a situation where is is neither independent nor a part of Serbia, and has to be ultimately resolved by International Court of Justice. Three years later, Kosovo is still a disputed state, and requires help from the UN just to remain independent.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Sorry for posting two pretty heavy comments to start off … I just had this stuff in my head and wanted to put in writing before it evaporated! I think this set of questions are interesting and important and should be considered with the weight they require.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Now you're talking! To fine-tune some points: Montenegro became independent and Serbia didn't oppose. Kosovo became independent under very different circumstances. For one, Serbia still opposes. And even though Kosovo's independence is not violating international law, you very well made the point that recognition is at the heart of the problem.

      Hence this post and many of the comments above.

      After having to read a lot of nonsense over the past days it is encouraging that you've taken your time and, as I think, paid due respect to the seriousness of the issue. Please do go on.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. Exactly my point – the Montenegrin secession was accepted as the declaration of independence was accepted by Serbia and therefore the rest of the world (ie. ideal situation) … Kosovo on the other hand wasn't accepted by Serbia, and therefore exists now in a state of limbo (ie. far from ideal!)

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. I did not want to contradict you on this point. I am sorry if you see my words as unnecessary or even invasive.

        Please do take them as a sign that I agree with what you have exposed.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      3. Not at all – I was simply trying to clarify that I understood the situation, as it wasn't clear to me from your reply! In fact, I'm pleased you see these comments I have made as useful or interesting enough to ask that I continue! (Though, right now, I don't really know how to!)

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      4. Thanks. May I suggest that we discuss in how far French politics could influence the (recognition of) the independence of Catalonia, and what Catalonia could (if it wants be become independent and integrated into the EU) do to be accepted by France and other states? And when this should be started and by whom?

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Okay, sounds good (though my French isn't sooo bad is it? 😉

    I'll set the ball rolling … in response to the first question about how France politics would influence a Catalan declaration of independence, I think the key issue would be how the decision to secede was arrived at, how dependence was declared and Spain's reaction.

    Given France's support of both Montenegro and Kosovo, one would think that the same reasoning would extend to Catalunya. However, they do not recognize South Ossetia or Abkhazia so the situation is somewhat clouded.

    Also, of note is the very real possibility that a newly accepted Catalan state would want Roussillon/Pyrénées-Orientales back or at the least there may be elevated tensions in the region. France would not accept this without a fight (probably not a militaristic fight, more in the less-litoral sense!)

    It would obviously be dependent on the Government at the time. Sarkozy looks unlikely to remain as President after the next election, and at this stage who knows who it will be! But as the current crise continues there are more and more sympathies towards the Right and the nationalists, which if elected would obviously be even more opposed to the possibility of loosing a province.

    On the other hand, if it were a unilateral declaration, with the support of a big majority of the population, I'm not sure that France could oppose without appearing to change their stance (although that hasn't stopped them in the past!)

    France and Spain have good relations right now, although they haven't always. Sarkozy has definitely helped and with all of the cross-border cooperation to stop ETA there is a lot of good will between the two countries, so France would probably support Spain's position.

    As I said in an earlier post, whilst France is obviously important, I think the the UK, Germany and Italy will all be crucial to the success of a Catalan declaration of independence. Support from these countries will be dependent on how their own federalist/separatist movements are doing politically. Also, interesting to compare will be the situation of Belgium and how each of these countries (especially France) reacts if Flanders gets it's current Government's wish and becomes independent. Right now, current opinion in France is relatively positive about a possible split, but whether this would be the same for Catalunya where perhaps a part of France is at stake I don't know.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Re: Catalunya Nord – yes, I think that even if it wasn't the stated aim of independence, many Catalan politicians would feel obliged to move on to restoration of 'historic territory' as a key policy. IE ERC.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. I doubt that this would survive even the early stages of a genuine independence campaign. The ERC are pancatalanist, but any campaign with a chance of success would be led by CiU, and, arch-pragmatists that they are, they would cut loose the Valencians and the Roussillonnais without a second thought.

        The irony of the situation is that Catalonia's autonomy, and the success of their recatalanisation policies have actually driven a greater wedge between them and Valencia, the two regions grow further apart with every year. The success of catalanism has killed pan-catalanism. I don't mention the Baleares because islands are always laws unto themselves, and local identity takes precedence over any national links in places like that.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. @ Daniel No, your French isn't bad, man. "the key issue would be how the decision to secede was arrived at, how dependence was declared and Spain's reaction": agreed. France's past stance on new states, let's forget about that. No precedent here. The colour of the government would play a certain role in how to approach such an issue, but territorial integrity is sacrosanct for everybody. And other EU countries such as Germany would certainly leave a French problem to the French and follow their decisions.

        It may be all about the process, as you have said earlier.

        Da boy sees this from a very relaxed angle, and that's a good input.

        I don't see anybody taking a principled approach, but a practical one. So if "The success of catalanism has killed pan-catalanism" this might be true, but will this be perceived as enough to calm possible fears?

        Diplomacy will certainly be used by Madrid to make any unilateral independence sour.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      3. Very much doubt that ERC will be an important player in the years ahead, they are reduced even now to a debating society for old-leftist gentlemen with serious doubts about living in the 21st century.

        Also very much doubt that anyone will mount a sustained campaign for absorption of Catalunya Nord. It's just not realistic – there will never be a majority in favour of it there, and it's the thing most likely to send the French into paroxysms of rage. Everybody with any sense of realism in the Catalan independentist movement knows that.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Hi, I'd like to jump back in now, as I said before the volunteer work for 10A/BD is eating up all my free time.
    Trying to get foreign correspondents to cover the Barcelona referendum is like herding cats, but cats who don't know where the mice are.

    For now, I'd like to respond to Candide's rebuttal of my points. Then digest some other points and get back on those.

    I said:
    "The doubts of Spain or France are not directly relevant. International projection of Catalonia as a nation is highly important in the run-up to an independence process, but given the case that Catalonia is in a position to claim independence 5 to 10 years from now, it will be a unilateral process."

    Candide said:
    "Can you explain how you come to that 5-10 years horizon? And Catalonia "is in a position to claim independence" then how, why and based on what?"

    My response:
    I see the present situation developing more or less like this:

    2011 – The Barcelona referendum gets about 35-40% turnout and a 95% Yes vote for independence. That combined with the 500,000 votes in favour so far creates a total of about 1 million votes in unofficial referendums in favour of independence. That million is the magic number to gain international attention. The BBC, Guardian and CNN start running stories about it.

    Meanwhile other "street movements" like Democracia Justa Ya! (15 May) and No Les Votes creates a growing awareness in popular protest and pressure. That fits in with movements in other parts of the world in a general "people power" movement.

    2012 – The PSOE gets hammered in the general elections, though Rajoy does not get a majority. CiU becomes a key partner, either officially or unofficially. Mas presses for a recognition of the Catalan Statute as originally passed, and represents it. Meanwhile he presses for a Fiscal Pact (Concert Económic) as condition for his full support.

    2013 – The Mas/Rajoy deal breaks down from conflicting tensions. No Fiscal Pact is resultant, Rajoy goes on an anti-Catalan warpath. Meanwhile Catalan popular support for independence tops 51% in ESADE polls on same. The wily Artur sees the way the wind is blowing, which happens to coincide with his own political beliefs, and makes an ultimatum: either there's a solid and permanent Fiscal Pact or he'll call a unilateral referendum next year. Rajoy calls him a terrorist.

    2014 – The Rajoy govt breaks down in its minority status. In new elections, surfing on anti-Catalan sentiment and a (possible) economic recovery, Rajoy (or successor) wins a solid majority. But the die is cast: Mas has called an "illegal" referendum for September 2014 to coincide with the 300th anniversary. The rhetoric gets tough at this point…

    2015 – Following a narrow win in the September referendum, Mas negotiates with the PP for a separation. Rajoy or successor turns it down flat. Then Mas presents another ultimatum – we negotiate a separation before the end of the year, or it's unilateral.
    Meanwhile his minions are crawling all over the UN and the EU to get at least an absence of protest if it does go unilateral.
    Neither France, the UK, Germany or Italy like it. But they have other matters on their plate and public opinion across the EU (guided by some very good PR people in organisations like 10A and some top culinary/sports stars) is in favour of "the underdog".

    2016 – Rajoy (or successor) finally cracks. He negotiates some face saving deal such as leaving the King as nominal Head of State in an "Iberian Commonwealth". Meanwhile, as the public in Catalonia see that all this political brouhaha does not mean the end of the world, the majority in support of independence grows to 60% or 70%. Some "unionist" violence follows, but nothing too alarming.

    2017 – (assuming we've all survived global catastrophe so far). It happens. Whether recognised officially by the EU, or just de facto, Catalonia becomes a sovereign state, insofar as such is possible within the EU.

    This timetable is subject to variance, delays and surprises. But my Nostradamus balls tell me it will play out approximately this way, maybe as much as 5 years later.

    Candide seems to think France will really oppose this for some realpolitik reason when it really isn't their business. Their public won't countenance any sustained opposition to Catalan independence. EU membership really is just a detail, they would have to formally expel us for de facto membership not to work. That's never going to happen.

    Candide finally says:
    "We'll just do it, no matter what?
    Do you think a Nike slogan is enough to make politics?"

    My answer:
    Let's change the slogan a little: "Just do it freely, openly and democratically, no matter what."
    I'll wear that T-shirt. I repeat, this is about self-determination. If it is backed by a majority of the citizens in a free and open referendum vote, possibly in 5 years or so, it will happen no matter what. Even a little economic pain won't stop it.

    Right now, from the independentist standpoint, the aim is to build momentum both domestically and internationally. All peaceful and non-violent means of agitation are valid. I'll quote from the 10-A website:
    "These referendums are considered the first step towards a large-scale referendum backed by the Catalan Parliament." When? 5-10 years, if the pressure keeps building.
    That's the plan, it's not a secret.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    1. That was a great read, and you almost convinced even me. Indeed, you have convinced me that you should play a good role in all of this, because if you leave it to knuckleheads à la Strubell and Requejo you'll most certainly get hit by international opinion where it hurts most.

      I'll not go on about the details (France…) we disagree on, but put a question: what will happen if the turnout in BCN is just another 20%, or even an optimistic 30%? Don't answer now, wait for 11A.

      The issue I am most concerned about is a society split over questions of identity.

      Does this

      http://www.lavanguardia.es/vida/20110401/54135287399/catalan-al-alza-pese-a-ser-minoria.html

      not coincide with the overall perception that a large majority of Catalan speakers would want independence? Isn't there a split along language lines that's now expressing itself in politics? And what consequences would that have?

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. They could have left out the Aznar reference, but point taken very well. It squares with my experience that the increase in Latin-American immigration has led naturally to an increase in Castilian as dominant day-to-day language. You see it all around.

        But Latinos are not necessarily inclined to be like Spaniards or to reject Catalan independence, they will do so only if they feel it is a cultural threat to them. As long as the Catalan independence movement remains pluralist and multicultural, they can even welcome it, insofar as they are even interested in Spanish political issues.

        I personally believe that the language issue is far secondary to other issues of fiscal and constitutional justice. And that the Pujolist tradition (not referring to his xenophobe wife, but big J himself) is one that respects linguistic plurality. I'm hoping for a disconnect between linguistic and political issues to develop,

        Enjoying the debate, but duty calls again, family not politics this time. More tomorrow.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. The Aznar reference is ridiculous, but the "las grandes oleadas migratorias del Franquismo" is sad and dangerous.

        Whatever. I think I have read somewhere else that the Latin American community makes up actually a very small percentage, somewhere around 5%. We have to admit that we're talking mainly about in-country immigrants. They might have a very strong opinion when it comes down to identity issues.

        Consider this: Catalan is highly regarded even among the Spanish native speakers. Indeed, the whole language policy is tacitly based on the recognition of Catalan as the language of Catalonia by Spanish speakers here. What if that understanding is shattered as a reaction to independence?

        Even if people are able to shift to another language so that the new one become the mother tongue of the next generations, they will strongly oppose any political pressure to do so and are likely to react violently because language is a very personal issue. Be sure someone will be there to lead them down this road.

        Just as there are many to make it an issue that they "cannot order a coffee in Catalan", but with a more sinister twist.

        I think that this is a beehive, and a little higher degree of self government is not worth the risk.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. BTW, and excuse me for "spamming". If any of you would like to debate any or all of these issues in English, please come along to the conference and concert at the Cupola of the new Les Arenes centre (Plaça Espanya) next Friday 8th at 7.30pm where the 10-A people will be having some discussions with international observers. Then there's a free rumba gig.
    Can't guarantee free nibbles or booze, but I'll do my best. Would love to chat to both supporters and opponents of independence, though…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Thanks. I don't work that way. I am best quietly analysing the situation and then writing about it (not so quietly, maybe). If any of my observations/conclusions can help to prevent the worse and you're the (rare) one to understand that criticism is good for your cause, me voici, volontaire.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    2. Wish I could … sounds like the build up to 10A will be interesting. Sadly I'm not in or that close to bcn right now … though hoping to change that soon!

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. In looking at cases of recent independence movements (Kosovo & South Sudan), it seems the magic number for international recognition isn't a million supporters. But an overwhelming percentage of support (90+%) to even register on the international press's radar.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. I'm really talking about the case of Catalonia in particular.

      If the turnout for the BCN referendum on the 10th tops 35% and it's a fair bet that 90%-plus will be in favour, that will be around half a million votes in favour. Added to the "572,954 votes so far […] in favour of Catalan independence", that will be a million.

      Source for figure:
      http://www.barcelonadecideix.cat/internacional/en
      [bottom of page "About the referendum…]

      So the independence movement will be able to claim "we got a million votes in a series of unofficial referendums without any institutional support, with more than 9 out of 10 in favour" and press for an official referendum. Meanwhile that magic number may be used by foreign correspondents around the world to create international awareness of the issue.
      The 90+% figure is almost a certainty, though of course those not in favour will ignore/boycott these unofficial votes and say it's just an empty exercise. That's missing the point.
      Of course the vote is unofficial, non-binding and so on. But it's a massive exercise in agit-prop, paving the way for a real referendum vote and getting people used to the idea of voting on issues of self-determination, while at the same time raising awareness of Catalan separatism abroad.

      Interestingly, other movements in Spain are pushing towards the use of referendums on key issues. For example the "Elecciones Justas 2012" plus "Democracia Real Ya!" group is pushing for referendums on all "cuestiones de estado", a concept which needs much more definition before it is applicable.
      http://www.eleccionesjustas2012.com/principal.html

      Answering Candide's point on what will happen if turnout in BCN is low, below 25% for example, I think it would be quite a setback. But we'll see.

      In comparison, I've compiled a mini survey on voter turnout in recent elections (stupidly, I failed to note the sources, but they are all verifiable official figures):
      Catalan Autonomous Elections 2010 : just over 60%
      Turnout in Catalonia for European Elections 2009 : 37.5%
      Catalan Referendum on Statute 2006 : below 50% (can't find exact figure)
      Catalan Autonomous Elections 2006 : 56%
      Turnout in Catalonia for 2008 General election: 71% (in Spain overall 75%)

      If the turnout in BCN for an unofficial poll can top the official vote for the European Parliament, that will be a major point to emphasise. A turnout of 40% would be a major triumph for 10-A in terms of claiming legitimacy for the concept of an official referendum.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. Frankly, I'll be surprised if you can get anywhere near 30% in Barcelona. Here in Cerdanyola, we had about 14% participation, with 84% in favour. I know the BCN consulta is a bigger operation and better organised and publicised but I'd still be surprised if you did significantly better than that.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      2. We'll see. All efforts now are centred on getting the turnout higher and for that reason the polling stations are spread all over (330 in total) so that organisers can get people out on their Sunday strolls to come in and vote.
        Look at how the polling stations are set up:

        http://www.barcelonadecideix.cat/collegis-electorals-10a

        One even in the middle of the park on top of Montjuic! Grab those Sunday strollers, pull them in for a simple 2 minute voting process. I think 30% turnout is a cert, if the weather is good and there's nothing on the telly.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      3. So turnout reached just over 21% in Barcelona. That's higher than I expected and lower than you were hoping for. The Guardian's coverage of the consulta was an AP wire story (I've noticed that Giles Tremlett isn't very good at filing stories at the weekend, and certainly isn't interested in anything that looks remotely like progress for the pro-independence movement in Catalonia. If he writes anything, it'll be about the disappointing turn out and the lack of interest).

        On Wednesday, the parliament will debate a 'law of independence'. All the CiU deputies who voted Sí yesterday will probably vote No on Wednesday, which is pretty much all that can be expected from that party. Yes, we support independence. No, we won't do anything about it.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      4. Yeah, I'm knackered after working all day yesterday and finishing at 1.00am.

        But, I think it was successful on the whole. My prognostications were unduly optimistic (I'm not normally so optimistic about things. But others were saying 10-15%, and this certainly outperforms that result.

        The final 885,000 who voted for independence across Catalonia is the figure to play with now, not too far short of my suggested magic number of a million.

        On the downside, as you comment, Tom, the international press interest was minimal.

        I drew up a press summary yesterday that made the best of the AP wire story, a report from Deutschefunk radio and a report in a Hungarian newspaper which I translated myself (I never knew I could speak Hungarian until yesterday).
        This was all we got – BBC's Sarah Rainsford was on an "important assignment" in Morocco (read: sunbathing). The British dailies weren't interested. The Guardian ran a la-la piece before the vote and they didn't bother with more than the AP wire. CNN and NYT weren't home for us because I suppose we don't carry Kalashnikovs.
        Today Euronews (our EU public news service, if you've never heard of it, your wallet has) ran a pair of stories with vids:
        http://www.euronews.net/2011/04/10/vote-tests-the-independence-water-in-barcelona/
        http://www.euronews.net/2011/04/11/barcelona-votes-for-catalan-independence-in-unofficial-referendum/
        And that, as they say, is all she wrote.

        We're wrapping up in 10A with last press releases and so on. But I'd like to find out who wants to take the next step, so I can fill their earhole with strategy. Making a commemorative vid for my YT and Vimeo pages.

        It was a fun experience, I chatted with a bunch of friendly Flemings and with Anna Simó, who's actually quite nice in person. But it seems like the Barcelona Decideix outfit is dissolving itself now, so… What's next?

        I'm all for a popular initiative and I've been studying it but need some legal advice. And who to suggest it to? I suppose it'll all become clear in due course.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      5. PS – Interesting anecdote that was hushed up yesterday because they didn't want to alarm the folks during the vote. Somebody actually shot one of the volunteers at a polling station with an airgun. Corner of Mallorca/Cantabria in Sant Martí. The volunteer was not seriously hurt, and I think the police caught the shooter. We were told to clam up on that and it was never reported in the press.
        One incident that was reported was a nutter who threatened a volunteer with a knife.

        http://www.3cat24.cat/noticia/1145846/barcelonaciutat/Un-desconegut-amenaca-amb-una-navalla-voluntaries-de-la-consulta-sobiranista-al-centre-de-Barcelona

        How's that for weird?

        I saw the Falange but they were totally harmless – five old ladies, a geezer with a moustache and a skinhead.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      6. Thanks for all the info, Alan. Interesting, the story about the air gun.

        I hope you'll stick around. We have lots more questions to cover and I'd be really interested in hearing your views.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      7. Thanks to you for keeping up this interesting blog. Promise to check out some other bits of it now the 10A fuss is over.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      8. I'm on there record above expecting "just another 20%, or even an optimistic 30%" turnout, which means I expected it to be closer to 20 than to 30.

        Last year one would have lodged it at 10-15, but 4 months of getting the votes door to door Jehova's Witnesses style (one's really got to read

        http://www.barcelonadecideix.cat/documents/documentacio/guia-captacio-vot-anticipat-cor-2.pdf

        )
        and after Pujol and Mas had made their appearance, 20% was entirely realistic.

        Which also means that they've hit the maximum possible. Except if they're in for interesting times and make an official referendum in which the parties have to come out with clear recommendations.

        Right now the story is that, at the top of the independence wave, almost 80% don't care for the issue. I.e. no change to be seen. That makes it a non-story for the international press. You've got to be realistic, Alan.

        The best strategy on the market is now Mas' "concierto económico". It's win-win for him: if he pushes it through, he'll stay in power for a long time. If he fails and can blame Madrid (as usual), a majority might finally be found to split from Spain and Mas will be called the Father of Independence.

        So relax, Alan, and when the time has come they'll need a lot of people to help with the propaganda. The groundwork has now been laid. That, if anybody had cared enough to dig a little deeper, would have been the story.

        Meanwhile, Catalan nationalism would be well advised to get some friends abroad. But all those who have made this task their own (or so they claim) are fucking it up big time whenever they open their mouths. So there's pretty little one volunteer -with all respect, Alan- can do to avoid or repair the damage. There has to be a wholly new approach, but why should I go into details.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      9. Hi Candide. Despite being on opposing sides of the fence, I pretty much agree with your analysis.

        Except with the doorstepping to mobilise votes, it's not only Jehova's Witnesses who do it, it's considered pretty much normal in political campaigns around the world. At least we didn't do cold-calling, now that really is a pain.

        Believe me, I'm as relaxed as you can be if you've fought the good fight, though I'm looking forward to the next stage in the campaign, probably starting late May/June.

        Right now,work and family issues take centre stage, and as for agitating, I'll be working for the 15th May "Democracia Real YA" movement, which is happening across Spain. Only a little, though.

        As you know, my part in the 10A thing was international press relations and we were fairly disappointed at the lack of coverage, but at least today Giles Tremlett has come through with a balanced report in The Guardian:

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/11/catalan-independence-boost-barcelona-vote

        So, last word on that campaign, until the next one. I'll be getting back to normality for a little while, and checking in here too, a great blog, Tom. Loved the political stuff and the travel reports. You ought to write professionally, dude…

        By the way, I've decided that I ought to be called Murph here. It's what my friends call me, and I consider all you posters here friends. Alan is only for bosses and people like my wife who don't like nicknames.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      10. So Alan has morphed into Murph 🙂

        Thank you for accepting my words. I do do my analyses very down to the facts, however here I do not feel compelled to separate them from my opinion (i.e. the conclusions and what I make of them).

        If it's of any use to you to see the dark side of your bright dreams, don't hesitate to pick my mind, here or on email.

        Tom's set up this debate, so I guess he'll be happy if we keep comparing our views here. (Tom?)

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      11. PD: I can't spare you this one, Murph: the kind of doorstepping you see as usual around the world is aimed at getting the vote out. Not at getting the vote, there and then. Because participation itself was the issue here, I see a great qualitative difference between what is being done regularly in the US and what happened in Barcelona.

        Whichever way you see it, the point was that about a third of the vote was cast in the four months running up to the day of voting, and thus it is fair to say that the result is meager when compared to the effort.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      12. I'll give you the 10A "party line" on the advanced polling, as I heard it from Alfred Bosch:

        In an official referendum, or vote of any kind, there is a process of advanced polling, usually by mail. But an organisation like BD doesn't have the resources of an official administration to check the ID of everyone who mails in votes.

        Therefore, to avoid accusations of voting fraud, they developed an ID system to check voter ID against an IT database, and make sure the same ID was never used twice. Then at the end of the process, the database was wiped by a data destruction firm.

        My take:
        Having gone to so much trouble to develop this system, and bearing in mind the process was at least as much about raising awareness of self-determination as it was about the actual result, there's no reason on earth why not to go around soliciting votes on the doorstep.

        This would never happen in an official referendum, of course, but this wasn't one. When it becomes official the usual advanced polling process will take place.

        BTW if you want to contact me by email, drop me a personal message at my YouTube page (I'm assuming you have a YT account)

        http://www.youtube.com/user/belisariusorb

        If not, we'll fix something up. I don't see you as the "dark side" nor myself as an unrealistic dreamer. We're both realists, but with different goals, and both civilised folk who can debate with respect.

        See you in the funny papers

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      13. Puhleeeze!

        Your own organisation compares the turnout to that of the Diagonal referendum, to those of various elections, even to the election results of CiU or PSC+PP in Barcelona…

        But when I make comparisons (actually following your lead on what is " pretty much normal in political campaigns around the world") you don't like them. That's some cherrypicking.

        There has to be more honesty in this. You folks did a great job of getting the desired result, a turnout as high as possible, so you and your ideas be taken seriously. Now be happy with the result and accept that one points out how it came into being. Four months not of campaigning, but of getting the very vote, have had an influence, and it is pertinent that this be pointed out.

        Don't give two turnout figures. The turnout is only one, it's the figure that relates to the body of possible voters. Your organisation has given two and then they fittingly lead with the higher figure. That's just a fancy trick. It's not serious.

        Don't come into the public with expectations so low that they are sure to be over-fulfilled (10% turnout). That's a very cheap way to claim success.

        Be happy with what you have achieved. You have created a movement and coalesced people around it. You have laid the groundwork for times to come. Why not be realistic and be happy? Why exaggerate? Why play tricks?

        Obviously the exaggerations are done coram publico domestico, and I am not sure that this works even here: it's only visibly worked with the usual suspects like CiU, La Vanguardia, Avui and others. Preaching to the conversed. It's certainly not worked with the international press. Having the glass only 1/5 full, i.e. not having got anywhere close to a majority, for future efforts you'll need the other 4/5 of the domestic population, you'll need the people of Spain, you'll need the international audience (brings us back to the topic of this thread).

        Here's two lines form the article you've linked to: "We could never, even in our wildest dreams, have imagined a turnout like this" (Alfred Bosch) and "Non-separatists pointed out that the weekend referendum in Barcelona showed the vast majority of Catalans were not interested enough in independence to take part."

        The journalist didn't do much of a homework and/or didn't get enough space, but the numbers are there. Who do you think the reader understands more of the above mentioned two opposing poles?

        The numbers are telling the story. Not all of the story, sure, but they are meant to have their fair weight or else you don't call a vote at all. If in face of the numbers and other facts you exaggerate or you are being straight out dishonest, it's going to lash back at you.

        You yourself, Murph, like many others, are not unrealistic, but you are a dreamer. This is not a negative thing at all! Go sell your dream, but when it comes down to numbers and facts, respect them. Don't come over as a dreamer. There is the very real risk that you'll be seen as manipulative. Be a realistic dreamer, there are precedents for that and people love those.

        In my opinion, there's a lot of manipulation going on indeed, but for the sake of talking (pleading!) with you I've left that part of my criticism out. The part that makes me dwell "on the other side of the fence".

        Let's continue the debate as things happen. I'm so old fashioned that I have no YT account, but I'll get one. Thanks for the suggestion.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      14. Everybody knows it's a referendum "for", not "on" independence. Even Anna Arqué can be found wording it like this.

        Which makes those who do not participate basically vote "against" independence. And already they are being called "childish", "afraid of democracy" and other nice words. I'm just waiting for "traitors".

        The vote in this referendum is incomparable to any elections, because it's not about any parties led by someone else, i.e. politicians who are largely despised, but about the very deep running personal issue of each citizen's national and/or cultural identity.

        If you look at politics or at your personal relations, people in Spain are comparatively immature. This does not mean they have less rights to determine their future. But it does make me fear about the way they will react when pressed against the wall.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      15. Can you quote Anna or any other 10A member saying it's "for" independence?
        Within the BD organisation we're very careful to use the term voting "on" independence (Cat: sobre, Esp: de, Fr: de) and never "for".

        The official campaign encourages everyone to vote whether in favour or against, though in practice those against will tend to ignore the vote.

        But the BD public line, always strictly adhered to (to my knowledge), is in favour of self-determination but strictly neutral as to the vote itself. I'm trying to keep a watch on that in the English versions of the material.

        Agree with your comments that the vote, being unofficial, is not strictly comparable to others. But you can bet that IF turnout beats the official EU elections, that'll be a point. A big if, there…

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      16. Sorry, my memory was slightly twisted. I don't see her using the term "referendum for independence".

        When asked: "-¿Y si la población dice "no" a la independencia de Cataluña?" Arqué's answer was: " Entonces, trabajaremos para que algún día salga el "sí"."

        source:

        http://www.lavanguardia.es/politica/noticias/20091211/53841481405/anna-arque-el-referendum-por-la-independencia-sera-vinculante-aunque-no-lo-sea-juridicamente-arenys-.html

        I do know that you encourage everybody to vote. Frankly, it would be ridiculous if you didn't. But let's not fool anybody: the referendum is for those who want independence, and thus it is being perceived. Hence, those who do not want independence do not cast their vote, with few exceptions.

        You are certainly right that the outcome will be compared as you did, because you are talking PR here, and as PR your point is justified. I'm just advancing the counter argument, which is my business. PR is not. Well, not in this case.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      17. Let me throw in an entirely different thought, I hope it will not go at the detriment of the more general ideas.

        You said, Alan, that you became aware of the magnitude of the problem after the Constitutional Court's verdict on the Estatut. Same happened to me, but my reaction was the opposite to yours: I found the CC's verdict entirely understandable, and the reaction in Catalonia not.

        I found it to be dangerous to throw the rule of law overboard, I found the campaign against the CC totally despicable (let's just remember the photo of three judges at a corrida in Sevilla and the accompanying texts). I found and still find that the campaign was led by those who have vested economic interests and who are all but the ideal people to throw any stone: Why doesn't La Vanguardia publish in Catalan only already for decades? That would make for a great and actually necessary cornerstone to convince the people of the usefulness and the need to use Catalan! If ever they wanted to be patriotic, respectful with their cultural heritage and useful in creating the linguistic situation that could make Catalonia more Catalan, this was the way. Not legal impositions on the one hand and, when it comes down to economic benefits, abandonment of their own culture on the other, for the sake of not risking a cent. They are hypocrites. And it's fair that they are: the free market doesn't want to much ideology. It's not fair that they pretend, as they do, do be motivated by anything else than money.

        I know very many idealists who just have been waiting for someone on the top to give the starting shot. They are good people. But some of their arguments (and even some of the laws being passed recently in the Catalan parliament) are actually fascistoid bullshit. This is something that happens all the time, everywhere in the world. It becomes a real turn-off when combined with the economic interests of a few in a situation in which, suddenly, a ruling class representing a minority turns against the majority of the people simply by first defining who is and who is not a real Catalan, and that being a real Catalan elevates you above the rule of law.

        I cannot be for these people, even though the idea of independence is nothing new nor awkward to me. Here, it's not due.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      18. Hi, got to go to work now, thanks for the tip on the Guardian piece. I'll respond later, or maybe tomorrow am.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      19. I'd like to respond to your point about the CC, and leave aside your own personal beliefs, which though I respect I feel there wouldn't be much point in debating. You feel that independence is not called for; I feel it is. That's about all there is to say about that.
        But the question of the Constitution is not a question of personal preference, and I believe it's at the very heart of the issue.
        The Constitutional Court is a very strange organism indeed, set up to be completely separate from the judiciary, and does not fall under the Poder Judicial, the judicial authority which has the Tribunal Supremo as its supreme body.

        The rules of its designation are:

        that of the 12 members, 4 are approved by the lower house by a 60% majority vote, 4 by the upper house the same way, 2 voted by the Poder Judicial (which otherwise has no authority at all over the CC) with the same 60% majority, and 2 designated by the government with no approval process or vote at all. That's a dog's breakfast of a designation process if I ever saw one.

        The terms of their mandate are that each judge is authorised to sit for 9 years only, and that 4 of the 12 must be replaced every three years in a rolling cycle of redesignations. The president must be chosen every 3 years by a secret vote of the 12 members and can sit for a maximum of two terms only, that is 6 years maximum.

        That's the law, the Ley Orgánica del Tribunal Constitucional of 1979 which gives legal form to the terms for the CC as expressed in Section 9 of the 1978 constitution.

        OK, what happens in reality? In reality the CC is invalid, three of its members (Delgado, Pérez and Gay) have been there since 2001, and are now more than a full year over their legal mandate. This was the case when they ruled on the Catalan Statute in July last year – they are very simply not authorized to rule on constitutional issues.

        The case of Eugeni Gay Montalvo is even more serious than that. Not only is he invalid by reason of overstaying his mandate, this year he has actually been elected as Vice-President of the court despite being illegally present in the chamber.

        A Constitutional Court which rides roughshod over the very terms of the law which gives it authority is in no position to rule of the constitutional validity of anything. The Spanish Constitutional Court in effect is a sham authority, pretending that it has power to rule on these issues while in reality violating the terms of its very existence.

        And that's the Constitution you expect us to respect and uphold? Bollocks. The whole 1978 constitution needs a complete overhaul, most especially in amendments to create a truly independent judicial structure, not one that is controlled by political groups and subject to ad hoc patching-up when the process breaks down.

        Since that's not going to happen, the only answer is to reject the authority of the Spanish Constitution wholesale as a document that has no real validity. Remember, the very youngest people who voted in the referendum to approve it in 1978 are now 52 years old.

        That's it? No chance of any modification, it's set in stone by those 7 politicians who drafted it, the Cortes of 1978 who approved it and then the 50-somethings who approved it? What's interesting is that Article 87.3 of the constitution includes provisions for a popular initiative for amendment, which is annulled by the omission of same in Article 160, which only allows a parliamentary initiative to amend it. So the bloody constitution contradicts itself with regard to the terms of its own amendment.

        And the CC is the rotten heart of that incomplete and contradictory democratic system. We have to do better than that, and an independent Catalonia might be a good place to start, offering a challenge to the existing system which otherwise would go on in its typically Spanish chapucera way forever.

        Note to the foregoing: I'm not a lawyer or jurist of any kind. But I can read Spanish fine, and when something contradicts itself in clear written Castilian, that spells stinky rotten lawmaking.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      20. Yes Alan, I am aware of this criticism. I disagree on some views: the was nothing illegal on the side of the court, and at the heart of the problem is politics, not the law.

        I do have problems with how it played out at the court, and at parliament. I just have many more problems with Catalan politics: it was not the point that the court's renovation was overdue, or that the Constitution's renovation might be overdue what brought Catalan nationalism up in arms. It was the growing fear that the Estatut would not pass "as is". All the time before the filtrations that the Estatut would have to be changed Catalan nationalism was pretty happy with the political maths of the court, was counting on the political will of Zapatero and that his will would find it's bearing through the so-called "progressive majority" of the court's members.

        Catalan nationalism was happy with one perceived political bias of the court, but not with another, by this accepting the twisted, if you want to call it this way, rules of the game. This criticism of yours is only valid if it's one of principles, not if it only pretends to be to serve political expediency.

        If you truly value principles then the rule of law is one of them and you try to change the constitution by ways foreseen in the constitution. Not through the backdoor, which is what happened: there has been some reasonable criticism that legal advice to the Generalitat (i.e. what would be constitutional and what not) has been a chapuza. You might want to tap into that yourself, do your own research and interview some contacts among jurists.

        Being not a jurist myself I apply, as you do, my knowledge of the local languages. I admit that the following is clearer for Spanish than for Catalan: a territory ¡s called a nation usually when we're talking about a state. Legal lingo is even clearer. There's the (Spanish) nation on one side, and there are nationalities or "pueblos" on the other.

        Catalan nationalism tried to make it's particular definition stick. The CC could only state that this definition was not to have any legal implications. The CC insisted on this point, in excess, as many Catalans think, because the political situation offered a strong independentist undercurrent in Catalonia. Any strife for independence, even by ways of "only" language, could never be accepted.

        This was foreseeable and in part even foreseen, thus the Estatut's preamble in its final version only pays respect to "the will of the citizens of Catalonia" to define Catalonia as a nation, without defining it as such itself. This backpedalling was not enough for the CC.

        I don't see this as illegal, I see this consequent behaviour, and legal advice to the Generalitat should have done so as well. But the advisers were apparently following their master's voice, as did the policemen who clearly overstated the crowd on 10J.

        The law is not the problem, politics is. We've never really had a debate about if, how and why the constitution has to be changed, and what principles should apply (making a constitution is much about principles). We're having debates about what pleases or not one or the other group in a given political situation, and let's not pretend that any of those groups have an approach based on (universal) principles.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      21. Here's Article 87.3 on how a popular initiative can start a process of creating a bill to amend the constitution, or any other bill:

        "Una ley orgánica regulará las formas de ejercicio y requisitos de la iniciativa popular para la presentación de proposiciones de ley. En todo caso se exigirán no menos de 500.000 firmas acreditadas. "

        Great! I can set up a petition and get half a million signatures to call for a bill to change the law and make the Estatut legal, or require the Poder Judicial to play by the rules of its own game, or propose a binding referendum on independence. Where do we sign?

        Oh, I forgot… though it's in the Constitution, there's no law to implement it. The inciativa popular is written in the constitution but not allowed in real life.

        Nice idea, Founding Fathers of the Constitution, but maybe just a little bit too much democracy for Spain to handle in reality. So we'll just forget about that and wait for the party political games to play out.

        Meanwhile let's make judge Gay the vice-president for the next three years, effectively the second legal authority of the land, in spite of the fact that his legal mandate to be present in the court has expired.

        But if Letizia has a boy child – God forbid – we'll amend the Constitution to make sure the institution of the Monarchy is all fair and provides equal rights for women.

        Meanwhile I could be sent to jail for saying something nasty about the King despite the fact that the European Court has overturned that law in the case of Otegui.

        Don't worry, Constitutionalists, everything is fine in the Kingdom of Spain, we have the finest law in the world to watch over our rights and the finest jurists in charge of it. Don't worry about the expired mandates, they're still good for invalidating a process that was the result of a pact between all parties in Catalonia and approved by a referendum of the citizens there.

        And don't worry about me, I'm not going to say the King is a drunken philanderer with one testicle who killed his brother, I wouldn't want to go to jail.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      22. You're not being very constructive right now, Alan.

        The only pertinent idea I can find here is that there's no law to regulate a popular initiative. Has this ever been an issue? Has it ever been brought up by any Catalan government or by CiU or ERC when they had PSOE or PP governments by their balls?

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      23. Maybe I was being a bit testy in my last remarks, but you know what? I think I may have stumbled on the next step to take after the referendum.

        It rings some kind of bell that the Ley de Memoria Histórica was brought forward by popular initiative. Anyway, I've got to do some legal homework on this.

        But it could be that a half-million petition would be a cinch to organise, and if true, that would get the official referendum into either the Catalan Parliament or the Cortes.

        Lightbulbs are lighting up, but unfortunately I've got to go and do more PR for the 10A right now.

        Please excuse my earlier comments – an excess of lunchtime sun tends to make me go all feisty.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      24. Yeah, you were on a rant. Was actually kinda fun. Happens to all of us anyway.

        If I had had the honour to advise, I'd have insisted to get signatures for a popular initiative right at the polling stations of the NGO-referendum. You only want to go unilateral if you can say: we tried it all.

        Certainly one would have to aim it at both parliaments.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      25. I think you're being overly optimistic. We'll be lucky if turnout gets anywhere near 20%. I'd say 10-15% is more likely.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Thank you, Tom, for fulfilling in excess my request to get some "quality Cataloonies" in. 😉

    Alan's all quality, nothing loony. A pleasure.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    1. Daniel, the same. Sorry! Had only the person in mind with whom I debated last. My bad, and I am certainly forgetting someone else again.

      I'm not trying to hand out report cards here. Just want to express my appreciation and respect, if you can accept it.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. Cataloony huh!? There goes the respect 😉

        I agree with the sentiment – topics like this (and the posters who debate them) should be treated with respect, else no-one learns anything, and we may as well just throw expletives around!

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      2. What can I say… I keep using the term with the risk of getting people angry and/or having to explain many times over that I do not mean every Catalan, or every independentist, but only those who propose such hilarious ideas as creating a conflict between the US and China over Catalonia, and especially those in power whose actions are dangerous and/or ignorant and self-centred.

        I am glad you can take the word with a little smile and the criticism seriously. Thank you for that good will.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Hmmm, interesting article @Candide. I can understand a little bit this attitude, as there are many ways in which a closer cooperations between states can bring big benefits. However, I would be interested to find out more about this closer cooperation, although I assume it would be like a mini-EU, rather than mini-US, as I can't believe that there are many Portuguese who would be happy to become a part of a 'Spanish Federation'.

    In some ways, this type of sentiment is perhaps the only way in which Catalunya could successfully declare 'independence' from Spain (as in, get Spain's approval) – if an Iberic Federation were created where the various member states were each recognized, but cooperated very closely, perhaps along the lines of the UK, were each country is a country (everyone recognizes England, Scotland, Wales and NI). However, a big difference would be that each member would be totally self-governed with complete jurisdiction, but cooperate together like EU member states.

    I don't know if this would ever work, but this could perhaps be a compromise to appease all sides.

    (Disclaimer, this is not necessarily something I believe in, I just put it out there for discussion!)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Face with so many things that don't make sense to me I don't know what would make sense. I just found the article anecdotically relevant to our debate.

      Imagine less people (percentage) participate in 10A than want to reunite Spain and Portugal. Or imagine its more!

      Or maybe 10A should be ask in as much detail as the quoted survey. I mean, really, what the heck is going on on this side of the Pyrenees?

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    2. With respect, if Scotland or Wales, or even Northern Ireland ever attained the level of autonomy Catalonia has then the West Lothian question would split the UK in 5 minutes.

      The bizarre thing about those who argue for a federal Spain (this is not a dig at nationalists BTW, though I disagree with it, there is nothing illogical about Catalan independence) is that no region in the world has more autonomy than the Basque Country (at least since Greenland left the EU, and effecively obtained independence), and Catalonia comes a close second.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. Sorry, the bit I missed was "what more autonomy could they possibly get?"

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    3. Comparing GB and Spain leads nowhere, History has made them different. In brief, the only way to achieve similarity would be to reorganise Spain on the basis of the ancient kingdoms and principalities that have once given birth to it.

      Certainly, in Spain like in GB (and many other places) there is with their respective inhabitants both an ethnic and a civic element to their national (as referring to a state) identities, and here like there in some places the ethnic element prevails over the civic one for historical and cultural reasons.

      One great element is common: whatever becomes of the states or their parts, everywhere the population is mixed and everywhere we subscribe to the European ideal of coexistence, cooperation and the peaceful solution of conflicts.

      So if I have to speak in positive for a solution of the Catalan question then I'd go along the lines of this European ideal and the simple concept of respect. And to illustrate that I'd like to recap a thought I have expressed earlier: the Spanish speaking majority in Catalonia respects Catalan language and culture, and this respect is essential for the existence of Catalonia. E.g. only thus we can understand that such policies as "linguistic normalisation" work and are met with only anecdotic resistance.

      In the present situation, there is a lot to be learned from this fact.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. I think comparing Spain and the UK can be illuminating, if only for the contrasts involved. Pushing the parallels too hard can lead to massive distortions, though.
        Boynamedsue brings up the West Lothian Question – in Spain this is solved because the Cortes Generales and the individual autonomous parliaments have separate (but ever-changing) areas of competence.

        On another side I'm always impressed by the inherent agility and flexibility of the British (unwritten) Constitution – if the govt wants to kick the toffs out of the upper house, and make it elected – lo! It is done. If only every state was as elastic and open to change.

        Meanwhile, the idea of a pan-Iberian federation is fascinating but an absolute non-starter. Might as well suggest to the Irish that they form a North West Archipelago Federation with the UK. In both cases the majority partner would be taking on a state in financial ruins and the minority partner(s) would feel the same old resentments they always did but in spades. Nice scenario for a post Mayan-Apocalypse 2013 movie set in Europe, though.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      2. Certainly, comparing is good even if only to see the difference. But you know what I meant.

        If you admire the British way, remember that neither in Wales nor in Scotland or NI you have the linguistic immersion Catalans enjoy.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      3. @ Candide and the praiseworthy idea of mutual respect. I agree that the best thing within Catalonia is to encourage a feeling of mutual respect, especially in language. Andreu Buenafuente is a great cultural model for that – Catalan, but a master of the Spanish language and knows how to poke fun at both tendencies:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLSXczuhHDo

        (From 7 minutes on)

        Most of the intolerance comes from two areas – football and political parties.

        Here's some football-based intolerance from Telemadrid

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZnWPqZaooU

        Just yesterday we had Rajoy – the guy who voted against the govt's austerity plan and came within a vote of creating a PIGS situation where he would throw the country down the toilet for party-political benefit – telling Catalans not to destabilise the country because it would be bad for the economy.

        If we could somehow censor all TV and press coverage of sport and politics, everyone would get along fine.

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. The only bad thing about independence would be encouraging nationalism. Catalonia (however you wish to spell it) is a great size for a country – big enough to be viable, but not so big it could go around acting like a cunt (can I say that?) like 'big' countries inevitably do.
    We should support the deconstruction of Spain into its regions, and encourage the French to do the same. We should also help make sure that independence is coupled with outward looking tolerance and avoid fetishisation of flags and made up national identities, which would lead to a very unpleasant atmosphere in the not so long run.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. I have been reading the posts over here. As a Catalan, I'm glad that so many people feel interested in our national issue.

    First of all, in case that Catalunya reaches its independency of Spain, it would be such a big issue for the EU. I do think that Catalunya as a new state would need the acceptance of the rest of the union states. But I wonder how you can block a (new) country that has already been part of the EU? I'm sure that the Spanish government woud be totally against and probably France as well, as it might generate some internal problems in both states.

    In case that the EU members ban Catalunya, do you thing that it would entail some economic problems? Catalunya has so many economic ties with France, specially with the south (Tolouse, Marseille, Perpignan…). Do you think that France wouldn't care about that? What about the rest of the EU countries? If Catalunya can reach its independency via a democratic referendum (which is not allowed in the current Constitucion Espanola), which would be the answer of the rest of (democratic) countries?? Would they go against something they are trying to spread around the world??

    I know that diplomacy goes deeply and my knowledge about it is quite small. But this is my point of view.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. I, for one, have no interest per se in your "national issue" but feel threatened by it. The "issue" seems to be interested in me, so I cannot remain on the sidelines.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      1. Oh poor Candide….

        By the way, you have said that sometimes the problem with the Catalan nationalism are politics and you really rely in the veredict of the CC (Tribunal Constitucional). I guess that you know that in Spain the CC is highly politicized as well. Basically by PP and PSOE. Many articles of the Estatut may match with la Constitucion depending on its interpretation. In a CC highly politicized I think we will never have a fair veredict regarding the law.

        You said somewhere that comparing people who have fighted for their own freedom in Yugoslavia with the Catalan ones sound like and insult. Well, everybody is free to make their own opinon, but so many people lost their lifes for the Catalan freedom in the past three centuries. Lluis Companys could be an example. If I was one fo these "Cataloonies" you mean I could feel insulted. But I can't get bothered.

        So, how exactly Catalan nationalism threatens you?

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  28. Child, you play too many turn-based strategy games.

    You're a troll, and therefore banned. I'm deleting your comments. Fuck off and stay well away.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  29. Typical, typical,……….coward.

    I'm such a fucking coward that cannot play well with adults. When the truth is written and discussed with real adults the first thing I do is obsessively talk about rape. I have major problems with women and I apologise to you all for taking my problems out on you. I won't bother you again. I'll just get help.

    Bye.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *