Tag Archives: Political geography

Societat Civil Catalana adds nothing to the debate about Catalan independence

Reading through the interminable policy statement PDFs issued by Societat Civil Catalana, you realize that there is a fundamental problem with SCC’s approach. Partly, it lies in the way it chooses to define democracy (and what is ‘undemocratic’). But most of all, SCC fails to offer a compelling argument for remaining part of Spain. It instead focuses on a cold, legalistic line which is pretty much identical to that used by the Spanish government.

By focusing on this as its main defense of the status quo, SCC has made a strategic mistake. Not only because it’s obvious that they’ve intentionally opted for an unnuanced view of what ‘democracy’ means, but also because as they focus so heavily on this legal argument, they fail to make a positive case for Catalonia continuing as part of the Spanish state.

When you think about it, SCC actually adds nothing to the debate. Its entire strategy is effectively identical to that of the state, which has repeatedly sought to criminalize an entirely peaceful political process which has seen millions of people taking part in mass demonstrations and non-binding ‘consultations’. The SCC, then, whether or not it is actually independent of the Spanish state, is in effect singing from the same song sheet. This may well be the reason why it has failed as an organization: when asked recently how many members the group had, a spokesman eventually responded – “75”. Even in a climate where it may be difficult to get people excited about defending the status quo, that number is lamentably poor. This, surely, is the result of a failure to galvanize support for a positive vision of continued union.

I think this could be a huge strategic mistake. By demonizing those well-meaning citizens of Catalonia who would like to be able to vote on self-determination as ‘illegal’ and ‘undemocratic’, rather than promoting the benefits of continued union (as ‘Better Together’ tried to regarding Scotland and the UK), the SCC isn’t making an active case for union. Indeed, it seems that the SCC and the Spanish state have both given up on a large section of Catalan civil society. Much like the PP in Catalonia, which really only exists as way of leveraging more votes in places like Extremadura where an anti-Catalan attitude always goes down well. What this says about the inevitability of eventual independence, I will leave for another day.

The question is: why doesn’t SCC open a new front in the debate? Why can’t it advocate for staying part of Spain?

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?