FC Barcelona won La Liga last night having stayed ahead of their competitors for most of the season. The club's victory was confirmed when Valencia were defeated 2-1 by Real Mallorca. As usual, celebrations took place in the heart of the city on the Rambla de Canaletes which leads down from the PlaÃ§a de Catalunya.
However, the city is not yet in full triumphal swing. An expected win aginst Arsenal in the Champions' League final in two weeks will give BarÃ§a an historic double victory.
Artur Mas, leader of the opposition conservative Catalan CiU party is now trying to bring about the breakup of the Catalan government. It seems that Mas, who agreed a deal with the Catalan socialists to smash the new Statute of Autonomy agreed in parliament, has sniffed the sweet smell of power, and doesn't want to let it go.
The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) have been left in an impossible position by this back room deal. Given that they are the only party in government here who have a firm ideology on the topic of greater power for Catalans to govern themselves – and that they were elected to government on that basis – ERC have found themselves stuck with a watered down Estatut to which they cannot lend their support. Instead, ERC's leader, Josep-LluÃs Carod-Rovira has called on party activists and supporters to spoil their ballot papers in a forthcoming referendum on the Statute. To vote 'No' might be construed as siding with the Spanish nationalist Popular Party (PP), something which ERC probably feels it could never do.
Artur Mas claims that ERC's opposition to the watered-down text of the Estatut is 'cowardly', 'improper' and a 'perversion of democracy', according to a 20 Minutos article translated at Barcelona Reporter. It's pretty obvious why Mas is pushing the Socialists to kick ERC out of the government. Rather than attempting to 'save' Catalan democracy, CiU are doing what they've done best for nearly thrity years of Catalan politics: subverting democracy in order to gift themselves power.
I can understand why many people disagree with ERC: the party is dedicated to an eventual separation from Spain, and this doesn't sit well with everyone. That said, I feel more inclined to trust a party who actually have an ideology and an aim than one whose sole aim is its own power. CiU are opportnists and they're good politicians. But they weren't elected to govern and I for one am getting pretty tired of their attempts to destroy the Triaprtit (three party coalition), and I'm getting pretty tired of the Catalan Socialists' willingness to go along with this anti-democratic behaviour.
Local elections are being held in England today (not that you'd know from BBC Breakfast, which perplexingly hasn't mentioned them at all). I won't be voting, partly because I vote in local elections here, and partly because when I registered to vote in the general election last year, I never received my ballot paper. If I was voting, however, you can bet that I wouldn't be voting for the BNP. This neo-Nazi group is expected to make large gains in councils in the north of England today, as many voters express their dissatisfaction with the Labour government.
Personally, I vote Green when I want to throw a vote away… at least they're well meaning, if a little wet. The BNP are – as The Sun so succinctly put it – Bloody Nasty People. That they could increase their political power, even as a reaction against Labour, is a very worrying thought. It is this sort of creeping, latent fascism which worries me most in Western European democracy. While they're a long way from holding a seat in Parliament, is it really too much to imagine a future where the BNP have become a powerful minor party?