LibLink: Miriam Gonzalez Durantez: Catalonia and Madrid drift towards extremes

The situation in Catalonia is incredibly worrying. I can’t help but think about what this would be like if it were happening in Scotland and am grateful for the wiser heads (i.e. ours) in the Coalition that facilitated a legal referendum that settled the issue at least for then.

Both the Madrid and Barcelona governments escalate this situation in a text book “what not to do” approach. Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, writing in the FT,  looks at this polarisation at the extremes and sees a need for reconciliation and moderation.  Both are wrong. Someone has to do something right, and soon.

The paradox is that the chest-beating performances from both the Catalan and Spanish governments hide their positions of weakness. While the regional government in Barcelona tries to show its strength by mobilising demonstrators on the streets, it feels threatened by the many companies leaving Catalonia and the emergence of deep internal divisions between hardline and pragmatic separatists within the governing Catalan coalition. As for the reaction from Madrid, the rigid legalistic response cannot hide the fact that since the vote, while Spain is facing the most worrying constitutional crisis of its democracy,

Mr Rajoy has not dared to visit Catalonia once. He has sent in the police and security forces and then withdrawn legal powers without having the courage to appear there himself. It is obvious that the solution to this crisis demands more than a tough approach towards the organisers of the illegal referendum — Mr Rajoy should also be opening up an emotional space to start building bridges with wider Catalan society, and with the less extreme independence forces in it. Yet nobody is calling for such a dual, “tough and tender” approach

When she talks about Rajoy being constrained by more extreme elements in his own party, my mind drifts to parallels with the way Theresa May has to constantly appease her Brexiteers rather than do what is good for the country. On the other hand, the large demos against independence show the weakness of the Catalan Government’s position.

So where does the moderate, wise influence come? Not from he King, Miriam argues, who has little wait in Catalonia, but from the moderates in both parties. A bit like us and Brexit, perhaps:

But there are moderates in every party who are privately uncomfortable with the drift of this debate. Prominent political figures from different parties need the courage to turn their private doubts into public advocacy and to co-ordinate and galvanise a fresh approach. Every day that passes, the Spanish government is further away from a solution to the Catalan crisis. The answer does not lie in testosterone-driven measures, even if they are justified by the law. The answer lies in realising that in moderation lies true strength.

You can read the whole article here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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46 Comments

  • Miriam does the usual `nothing can change due to process` trick.

    Fact: Catalonia can never have a referendum because Madrid won’t allow it. If Rajoy had simply allowed a referendum this may never have happened.

    Fact: A fifth of Spain’s wealth comes from Catalonia which is about 13% of the Spanish population. They subsidise the rest of the Spanish economy.

    Fact: Given that Spain has the Euro there is no way (apart from subsidies from the EU) able to lift up the more deprived areas. Thus you get stasis where any challenge to it is crushed by current EU orthodoxies.

    It sums up the Lib Dems – all about process nothing about change. Unable to challenge their own assumptions they become ignored.

  • Arnold Kiel 28th Oct '17 - 3:04pm

    If a difference between taxes raised and spent locally is naturally wrong, what is the point of statehood? By that logic, a separation of London from the rest of the UK is overdue.

  • Laurence Cox 28th Oct '17 - 3:04pm

    Unfortunately, Miriam’s article is behind the FT paywall. One comment is worth making though. Regardless of the rights and wrongs on both sides, the Constitutional Court had already declared the independence referendum result invalid as this Guardian article explains:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/05/spanish-pm-mariano-rajoy-warns-of-greater-harm-from-catalonia-independence-plans

    The most important thing in any democracy is respect for the rule of law; what would we have said if, after the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of Gina Miller, the Government had turned round and said “We have a majority in the Commons so we will still go ahead and invoke Article 50 without further debate.” That seems to me a direct parallel to what the Catalonian regional parliament did.

  • David Evans 28th Oct '17 - 3:35pm

    “The most important thing in any democracy is respect for the rule of law.” Funny, but I’ve never noticed that in the Preamble. I wonder why? Bad Law perhaps.

  • Saif Al-Saadoon 28th Oct '17 - 5:43pm

    The wealth and tax contribution argument is a vulgar argument; I prefer a One Country argument, where a nation is the sum of its regions, regardless of riches an poverty.
    This is in line with the EU project where rich and poorer countries are united in one large entity; the rich help the poor, until parity is achieved and the total sum becomes ever more stronger.

  • Saif Al-Saadoon 28th Oct '17 - 5:45pm

    Rich and poor are anyway relative and monetary; the difference is never static.

  • Saif Al-Saadoon 28th Oct '17 - 5:49pm

    Rich and poor are relative terms and are anyway momentary; the differences are never static.

  • Martin Land 28th Oct '17 - 6:28pm

    Had the United States respected the law and constitution they would still be colonies.

  • Ed Shepherd 28th Oct '17 - 7:02pm

    No mention of violence by the natinonal lice against people voting. Surely a much more serious issue than the holding of a referendum that the constitutional court could have later declared a void resul with no need to have used violence to stop it taking place. I used to think that Catalan independence was not necessary but the violence by the Spanish government has convnced me why many people in Catalonia think oit is the best solution for them. It disturns me that there are poiliticians and politiicians wives in Britain, Spain and Europe who are refusing to condemn the use of violence by the Spanish government.

  • Ed Shepherd 28th Oct '17 - 7:03pm

    I meant to say national police rather than national lice but perhaps that was a Freudian slip…

  • Ed Shepherd 28th Oct '17 - 7:11pm

    Was the Catalan refenrendum illegal as this article claims or only unlawful? That is an important distinction in English law. Does the same distinction apply in Spanish law?

  • @Arnold Kiel – the problem in Spain is that due to the Euro there is no way for regional economic rebalancing to occur whereas in this country we can do that. The questions remain the same. The utter uselessness of the political classes to offend vested interests to put forward ideas to create that change. London – a clear answer would be over time to move the Parliament from Westminster to somewhere else say Birmingham or Manchester. Not going to happen as Lib Dems and others are shit scared of political ramifications in London. Thus, Corbyn could get elected due to the cowardice of others.

    Take another example – life long learning. Chi Onwurah (Lab MP for Newcastle) made a good point saying that life long learning over 24/25 is unfunded at the moment. Apparently Vince Cable agrees. So why doesn’t the party hammer it home in leaflets and campaigning? Probably because that would mean shaking up the decrepit JCP system.

    I could go on. Until the party addresses the systemic problems faced by those at the bottom nothing will change and liberalism will simply be yet another conservative force.

  • Tony Greaves 28th Oct '17 - 9:20pm

    It is awful and it is hard to believe that it will not end in violence and scenes that will shame the whole of Europe. A few points but no solutions…

    (1) The way the (Spanish national police) Civil Guard behaved towards people trying to vote was despicable and created horrible echoes of the Francoist (fascist) era. Mr Rajoy has far too much of the latter-day Franco about him.

    (2) Our supposed allies in Ciudadanos – in giving Mr Rajoy such strong support and indeed urging him on – have seriously blotted their copybook when they were perhaps the only Spanish party that could have tried to act as mediators.

    (3) The EU has proved to be feeble in this situation (partly because France is scared to death of Catalan nationalism crossing the border). If the EU cannot act in a mediating and facilitating role in a situation like this, what is the point of it all?

    (4) It is hard to think that Mr Puigdemont and his party and supporters have thought through the strategy and tactics of what they are doing. Do they have a clear end-game in their minds? Or are they just seeking the glory of martyrs? Or even revenge for 1936?

    (5) Surely this is exactly the kind of situation in which the UK, with its highly experienced and sensible diplomatic service, could offer to act in a mediating and facilitating role? (If we were not completely embroiled in our own nonsenses at present.

    (6) There are a lot of stupidly short-sighted people in Spain and far too many of them in prominent positions. (To which I might add, a bit like the UK).

  • Little Jackie Paper 29th Oct '17 - 1:09am

    Tony Greaves – ‘Surely this is exactly the kind of situation in which the UK, with its highly experienced and sensible diplomatic service, could offer to act in a mediating and facilitating role?’

    You’re not serious?

  • Little Jackie Paper 29th Oct '17 - 1:16am

    Tony Greaves – ‘The EU has proved to be feeble in this situation (partly because France is scared to death of Catalan nationalism crossing the border). If the EU cannot act in a mediating and facilitating role in a situation like this, what is the point of it all?’

    The EU is feeble here for two reasons. Firstly as Spain is a member state the EU has zero hope of being regarded as an honest broker.

    Secondly I’m very surprised no one has mentioned the last time the EU decided to stick its oar into someone else’s referendum. The EU insisted that it would only recognise Montenegro’s independence if the referendum there got a 50% turnout and a 55% majority. The EU was within a few thousand votes of getting its fingers very badly burned there. If that sort of majority is what it took in Montenegro, why not apply the same to Catalonia? Indeed, it was notable that the EU declined to do the same thing in Kosovo. And, if nothing else Serbia/Montenegro/Kosovo are clearly European affairs.

    Don’t get me wrong here – I wouldn’t for a moment say that the situation in Montenegro was the same as that in Catalonia. That said it’s not clear to me why the EU would have a qualifying figure in mind for Montenegro, but not make the same offer to Catalonia. Possibly the EU’s reluctance to repeat the offer to Kosovo and Catalonia reflects that the EU realises how dangerously close it was to an almighty bungle in Montenegro.

    In any case, this is plainly an internal constitutional Spanish matter and the UK and EU should stay well out.

  • When you have empires or pseudo empires there is a tendency for regions to attempt to breakaway. None of these big federations of countries ever last and in fact they heighten the pull of independence. It happened with our empire. it happened with the French one, happened with Rome, with the USSR and so on and so on. And you are beginning to see it within the EU which is only 24 years old.

  • Arnold Kiel 29th Oct '17 - 9:35am

    james,

    could you explain to me the difference between the Spanish and the UK situation with respect to regional economic rebalancing? As far as I have observed, London is the most drastic case of national wealth concentration in the EU.

    But I am fine with that: advancing left-behind regions by infusing money is at least highly inefficient, in most cases a complete failure. You can blame the EU for not succeeding, but not for lack of trying. Migrating people to where the work is makes a lot more sense (despite being unpopular).

    On “police violence”:

    All relevant Spanish institutions agreed that separation and the referendum were illegal. That means law-obiding “remainers” were precluded from campaigning and participating. Letting such a “referendum” go ahead unchallenged was therefore unthinkeable. The national police tried to occupy voting venues and confiscate ballot boxes to stop an illegal act. Violence occurred, when citizens opposed this. It was never about them exercising a democratic right.

    Suggesting that the EU should mediate between the legal exercise of executive power by a member-state and organized law-breakers is absurd. Giving legitimacy to separatists, and therefore to illegal regional independence-referendums would undermine the national and international legal order on which all levels of EU-wide governance are based. How would you feel if the EU meddled in similar UK-affairs?

  • People need to think their position through here a bit more.

    Are people saying that were we to find Scotland declaring independence in a fashion that the Supreme Court ruled to be illegal in advance of it doing so that we should blindly support such a declaration?

    Second, in the case of Northern Ireland, the security forces over the decades engaged in much greater violence then that seen in Catalonia. Who here is suggesting that that constitutes grounds for Northern Ireland being independent of the U.K.?

    Lastly, the blind calls for the EU to intervene are stupid since in both the above cases the EU would presumably be expected to oppose “UK rule” for both Scotland and Northern Ireland. And that would apply irrespective of whether we are or have ceased to be an EU member.

  • Tony Greaves 29th Oct '17 - 2:03pm

    Little Jackie Paper (whatever that means): “In any case, this is plainly an internal constitutional Spanish matter and the UK and EU should stay well out.”

    This is precisely the little-Ruritania attitude that causes problems. I am not suggesting clumsy intervention but offers of help. I am very serious.

    Arnold Kiel: your posting is substantial nonsense.

    I take it that neither of you two are Liberal Democrats?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Oct '17 - 2:51pm

    The first and very substantial and helpful piece from Lord Greaves, is best seen without the second , which, as Martin tries questioning, is a bit confused.

    Lord Greaves point about the Eu, while correctly thinking Brexit is nonsense, is one we need to think about. The EU must get over the absurd factionalism at the same time as a move to homogenisation carries on. Christian Linder has better ideas for the future of a looser flexible organisation than Verhovstadt and even Macron, obsessed with ever closer union, though thankfully , recognising the potential for a two track possibility.

    We must not go too far with Lord Greaves , who has openly prefered Podemos to Citizens, on the latter and their approach. Citizens started in Catalan anti separatist movements, it has pro unity of Spain at the core of it, it is correct to, the separatists are Catalan nationalists, this much more about prejudice for some, against that which is Spanish, than to do with furthering democracy.

    The premiership of Social Democrat , or Democratic Socialist , Phelipe Gonzalez, was concerned much of the time , to further democracy but also the unity of the whole nation, hence in the battle against ETA and those extreme organisations.

    The unity of a democracy is not served by breaking up that which has worked and well, for generations.

  • Arnold Kiel 29th Oct '17 - 4:37pm

    Tony Greaves,

    I am a member, and believe upholding the rule of democratically enacted law is substantially liberal.

    Let us not forget: the Spanish constitution was approved also by the catalan parliament. This very parliament then held a binding referendum on independence, and committed itself to immediately declare independence thereafter. They eventually did so based on a 43% turnout in a referendum carried out without the normal checks (i.e. supervised counting). We must judge this based on the method employed, not the seemingly honourable goals.

  • Colin Paine 29th Oct '17 - 4:50pm

    Catalan separatists are jeopardising Spain’s economic recovery and moderate democracy for nothing mote than narrow nationalist and sectarian aims. Proud to stand with Ciudadanos against this.

  • Peter Martin 29th Oct '17 - 5:00pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    The difference is that the UK has its own currency and isn’t constrained by silly limits like the Govt budget deficit never being greater than 3% of GDP.

    You are right about the problem in the UK. Money, in any currency zone, tends to gravitate to the already wealthy areas. So if the Govt didn’t intervene by fiscal rebalancing ie the richer areas putting more into the pot and taking less out and vice versa for the poorer areas, the economy of the SE would overheat and and the rest of the country would be in a state of economic depression. That sounds a familiar description of what we actually have, so perhaps the Govt should do more than it already does to regionally rebalance the economy.

    It really doesn’t make any sense for everyone to move into the SE of the country! It’s not good for the people who already live there and it’s not good for those who have to move.

    It’s the same story in the EU. It’s not good for Germany and it’s not good for Romania to have a highly asymmetric migration pattern.

  • Peter Martin 29th Oct '17 - 5:24pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “All relevant Spanish institutions agreed that separation and the referendum were illegal. That means law-obiding (sic) ‘remainers’ were precluded from campaigning and participating”

    I think you might be on to something here! If any country has a problem with any region wanting to secede then it just has to get all its institutions to declare that any moves towards that, including asking everyone to participate democratically, are illegal. And, as you say, that means no-one who wants to Remain should be required to break the law.

    Maybe the European Parliament should have declared the Brexit vote to be illegal? Then all those who wanted to remain could have used the same argument.

    I should say I have no opinion either way on whether Catalonia should be independent. That has to be the choice of the Catalan people. Like the Scottish people, they should be allowed to go it alone if that is what they want. I have more of an opinion on Scottish Nationalism. I’d like the UK to stay the UK. But that has to be on the basis of offering the Scottish people a free choice on whether or not that is what they really want.

  • Martin’
    I’m a Lib Dem voter. Said so very many times. Just think the EU is a mistake based on a bad idea.
    One of the 30% of lib dems who voted leave.

  • Laurence Cox 29th Oct '17 - 7:54pm

    @Peter Martin (or perhaps I should call you Rip Van Winkle, since you seem to have been asleep for the last decade as far as the EU is concerned)

    The Lisbon Treaty, signed on 13th December 2007, gave EU member states the right to leave the EU through Article 50. Prior to this it would have been against the treaties signed by the EU member states for any of them to leave the EU. The responsibility for interpreting EU treaties lies with the European Court of Justice; the European Parliament has no competence in this and cannot declare a vote such as the Brexit vote to be illegal. Indeed, were it to attempt the do so, the UK would be within its rights to appeal to the ECJ that the European Parliament had acted ultra vires and to strike down its decision.

    I must say that I am depressed by the lack of regard for the rule of law shown by many of the posters here. Did you really think that the Government was entitled to activate Article 50 using the Royal Prerogative, without the need for a vote in Parliament, regardless of the ruling of the Supreme Court. If so, then we are even closer to an elective dictatorship than I feared.

    Lord Greaves’ postings here are far from constructive. Anyone who advocates associating our party with the democratic socialist/communist position of Podemos, while rejecting our friends in Ciudadanos, who are part of ALDE, must make a better case than “I think Rajoy is a modern-day Franco and I will reject anyone who votes the same way as him and his party”.

  • Peter Martin,

    1. Mature economies grow below 3%. Capping deficits there (in principle; lots of exceptions happened and were accepted) prevents systematic overindebtedness. Silly?

    2. Spain was doing fine in terms of growth and debt, and then built 800,000 homes a year. Would you have proposed to continue that, ignoring “silly” deficit rules as a way to rebalancing?

    3. Ambitious Britains (not everybody) do and will continue to move SE.

    4. I fail to see the benefits of potential workers languishing in dead places and hot labor-markets being starved of supply.

    5. Neither Spain nor the EU are banana-republics where institutions casually gang up against the rule of law.

    6. The legality of a referendum campaign dominated by lies and free of any deliberation and disclosure about practical consequences is indeed a tempting question, but Britons will ask that temselves very soon.

    7. Have you given some thought to the question how any legal order can be upheld, if any region of any country can separate itself by a simple majority vote (and, of course, without spelling out any practical consequences)?

  • Peter Martin 30th Oct '17 - 8:11am

    @Arnold Kiel,

    Yes it is silly to have an arbitrary limit of 3%. It’s fine for the large net exporting countries like Germany and Holland. They always have a ready supply of euros coming into their economies to keep them functioning. Germany runs a surplus of 8% of GDP. But if Germany runs a surplus someone else has, eurocent for eurocent, to run a deficit. It’s just a question of arithmetic and nothing do do with any question of maturity.

    So if Germany wishes to run a trade surplus, it has to welcome other countries running trade deficits. Those deficits drain euros from the economies of those countries and they need to be replenished by Govt deficit spending to prevent them falling into recesssion.

  • Peter Martin 30th Oct '17 - 8:21am

    Have you given some thought to the question how any legal order can be upheld, if any region of any country can separate itself by a simple majority vote (and, of course, without spelling out any practical consequences)?

    It’s a good question but not a particularly new one. Often “legal order” has been upheld by the use of military force. We can think of historical examples such as in Ireland from 1916 onwards , the Union/Confederacy conflict in America, The Nigeria/Biafra split in the 60s, and most recently the Serbia/Kosovo split.

    Sometimes the splits are prevented. Sometimes they aren’t. It depends on who wins!

    So there is no easy answer. Everyone involved locally has to choose whose side they are on and fight it out if there is no negotiated settlement.

  • Peter Martin 30th Oct '17 - 12:11pm

    @Arnold Kiel,

    I’ll just answer a couple of your other points:

    ” Spain was doing fine in terms of growth and debt, and then built 800,000 homes a year. Would you have proposed to continue that, ignoring “silly” deficit rules as a way to rebalancing?”

    I haven’t checked if 800,000 is correct. But I’d agree that too many were built. It happened everywhere in Europe, and plenty more places besides, prior to the GFC. The debt was assumed by the private sector not government. The SGP imposes rules on Govt debt but not private debt. Why not? Is one better than the other? So we had a situation prior to the GFC when the Spanish, Irish, Portuguese etc economies were going gangbusters – fueled by the excesses of private debt spending. The GFC comes along. The private sector stops borrowing and starts saving. The Governments of the EU (except the UK) aren’t allowed to increase their borrowing and what happens? We get a depression/recession! Doh!

    ” Ambitious Britains (not everybody) do and will continue to move SE…… I fail to see the benefits of potential workers languishing in dead places and hot labor-markets being starved of supply.”

    Places like Northern Ireland, the North of England, Wales etc aren’t “Dead Places”. Government can spend money in these regions to increase GDP without it causing inflation. It can’t do that in London and the SE. These regions are at full capacity. Extra spending there will probably just push up inflation. Especially if asset prices are included.

  • Bernard Aris 30th Oct '17 - 3:19pm

    @ Tony Greaves,

    Ciudadanos was founded in Catalonia in 2006 exactly to counter the vituperative, Spanish-hating and Spanish-baiting tone the then Catalan government was spewing out via Catalan media. I quote from the Manifesto of concerned, civilised citizens (Spanish: Ciudadanos) by which the party came into being:
    {see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_(Spanish_political_party)#History }
    1) “the rhetoric of hatred promulgated by official Catalan government media against everything ‘Spanish’ is more alarming than ever”, and:
    2) “the (Catalan) nation, promoted as an homogenous entity, has taken over the space where an undeniably diverse society lived”.
    Everybody who has studied a bit about Catalonia knows that this Mediterranean trade center has for centuries been multicultural, multilingual and multinational.
    That is exactly the problem with Puigdemont c.s.: they care even less about the Spaniards, French, and other nationalities in their midst (a part of Catalonia in the Pyrenees is seriously looking towards joining Andorra if the Ctat-Exit happens) than Theresa May does about the EU citizens in Britain (her own Home Office already started sending them expulsion orders until media coverage stopped that).

    As you yourselve suspect, they are playing “Alamo in the Pyrenees”, with no follow up being planned.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Oct '17 - 4:53pm

    A really fine little bit of info from Bernard, as I said earlier, the party “Citizens” are rooted in the unity of Spain, based on their loathing of a very prejudiced form of anti Spanish ideology and policy, they , the separatists are not the good guys !

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Oct '17 - 6:05pm

    I refused to back Ciudadanos in the Spanish general election because of their stance against a referendum on Catalonian independence. The whole concept of an “indivisible” state is nonsense and I believe will be seen to be similar to the concept of a monarch’s indivisible power pre-enlightenment.

    If enough people want it strongly enough then a state will divide.

    I’m not backing Catalonian independence, but I am backing their right to decide in a legal referendum.

  • Little Jackie Paper 31st Oct '17 - 10:41pm

    Tony Greaves –

    1 – Try typing ‘Little Jackie Paper’ into Google.

    2 – ‘This is precisely the little-Ruritania attitude that causes problems. I am not suggesting clumsy intervention but offers of help. I am very serious.’

    And yours is exactly the type of attitude that sees internationalism equated with intervention in every flash point. This is none of the UK’s concern – zero. We have nothing to offer here other than interventionism for the sake of it.

  • Arnold Kiel 1st Nov '17 - 7:12am

    Peter Martin,
    as this thread is losing general interest, I am risking to bore all other contributors (sorry) with our predictable dialogue:

    You continue to fail to acknowledge, that the 3% deficit rule is a (imo correct) guideline, but never firmly enforced.

    As you know very well, private-sector overindebtedness becomes a public one via bank-bailouts. The EU not only did not hinder this, but provided active support via guarantees to bancrupt countries, thereby actively contributing to exceeding the “silly” 3% rule.

    You are also deliberately conflating a trade deficit with a budget deficit. The former is sustainable for countries who are attractive places for foreign capital, such as the USA and (until June 2016) the UK.

    This has nothing to do with a common currency. A country with a persistent trade deficit that does not attract foreign capital will go bust, and must therefore rebalance its trade. Currency-devaluation or prohibitive credit-spreads are equivalent signals from the capital markets, responsible politicians know how to read.

    Can you specify one case in which financial transfers from the SE of the UK to the north or west has produced sustained incremental economic dynamic (relocating public servants does not qualify; it is just moving consumption)?

  • Peter Martin 1st Nov '17 - 9:17am

    @Arnold,

    Yes, sure, when the GFC hit and banks had to be bailed out then the 3% rule was generally breached. So why have it in the first place?

    Everything has to sum to zero in a fiat currency regime. The issuer holds the liability (negative). The holder has the asset (positive). There’s no gold or any other precious metals involved. So if you would like to see positive numbers in your bank account, someone else, and that has to be the Government, has to hold the negative numbers. That’s why all countries like the USA, the UK etc have “National Debts.” They could just as well be called National Assets.

    Trade deficits and Govt deficits are closely linked. So, if the UK runs a trade deficit, someone in the UK has to do the borrowing to fund that. Sure, the Govt has done its best over the years to encourage everyone else in the UK to borrow more, so it can borrow less, but ultimately it can’t get out of it completely for any length of time. There’s no pressing need for that in Germany so Govt has been content to keep a more restrictive lending regime.

    You are right in saying that this has nothing to do with a common currency but this does place a constraint on Govts. If Govts have their own currency they can allow them to float. A Government using the euro is in straightjacket. It has the responsibility for ensuring its economy is working to full potential but it doesn’t have the power to achieve that. It isn’t in control of its currency.

    From a Govts POV it wants to maximise its productive capacity. It doesn’t make sense to have one region overheating and creating inflationary tendendencies and another in an economic depression. So all currency unions, including the USA, ensure that they have fiscal transfers between wealthy and poorer areas. Arguably, both the UK and USA should have more than they do. That’s a lesson that the EU is resisting. But it has to happen eventually. Alternatively the euro will have to be scrapped and we can all go back to having our own separate currencies.

  • Peter Hirst 1st Nov '17 - 1:21pm

    I wouldn’t start from there! They must have seen it coming. Either their constitution needs amending, wasn’t adhered to or something.

  • nvelope2003 1st Nov '17 - 6:15pm

    Self determination for nationalities is a fine principle but not many people envisaged a continent divided into little states as it was until German and Italian unification. After World War I it was felt right to give the Poles and then the Czechs their own national states, then Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and Finland. These places had been part of the 3 great Empires which had dominated Europe and were disliked by the more idealstic people. World War II followed.

    Breaking Europe into a myriad of ever smaller states will lead to the same instability which existed in the past. At one time there were over 300 sovereign German states who could bargain with the bigger states for their support in the endless wars which afflicted the continent. Is that what most people want ? I think not. We must hope that Catalonia and Scotland can come to a reasonable agreement with the rest of their respective countries. When Ireland became independent in 1922 it endured years of poverty instead of the hoped for prosperity, The EU is right to oppose Catalonian independence from Spain. Who would benefit if Spain was divided into a myriad of 16 small states ? Translators ?

  • nvelope2003 2nd Nov '17 - 9:26am

    And a decree went out from……

  • Peter Martin 2nd Nov '17 - 12:09pm

    What neither the Catalonians nor the Spanish seem to appreciate is that separation is not going to make much difference in the long run – assuming the EU survives.

    One currency in the EU has to mean one Government, one taxation system, one country. If the EU doesn’t manage to become that it won’t survive.

    So separation for Catalonia won’t at all be the same thing as independence. Any more than if any of the US states split into two but were still part of the USA, using the same dollar, paying the same taxes, and being part of the same USA.

  • The point is Catalonia had a referendum and the people voted for independence.
    The elected representatives were carrying out that wish.
    The Spanish state sent their police/army, intimidating voters, and now arresting politicians carrying out the people’s wishes.
    Give credit to the British with the Scottish independence referendum: they behaved as an European democracy should and would honour the result whichever way it went.

    Whatever your view in an independent Catalonia the Spanish authorities are/have behaved in an appalling repressive manner towards the people of Catalonia and its elected politicians.

    Reminds me of 50 years ago: Czechoslovakia – Look what eventually resulted.

  • Laurence Cox 8th Nov '17 - 6:42pm

    Here is a useful article by two advisers to the Ciudadanos party, which is one of our fellow parties in the ALDE group in the European Parliament. It covers the background to Catalan nationalism.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/08/simple-facts-catalan-secessionism-selfish-goal

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  • User AvatarPaul Barker 12th Dec - 4:22pm
    You hear a Fire Alarm go off. Do you evacuate the building immeidiately or wait till you can see the smoke ?
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 12th Dec - 3:57pm
    @Michael BG "It also seems that the Brexit Party has been adversely affected by not standing in all British seats." I think a large part...
  • User AvatarPeter 12th Dec - 3:37pm
    Roland, the models predict temperature and by implication, sea rise, because the rise is due to the thermal expansion of the oceans. If the models...
  • User AvatarPeter 12th Dec - 3:19pm
    @Roland The purpose of the models is to predict future temperatures given the projected rate of increase in atmospheric CO2. We now have decades of...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 12th Dec - 3:04pm
    Peter Watson, The Liberal Democrats are a national party and should stand in every constituency. I think it is generally recognised that fighting on a...
  • User AvatarRoland 12th Dec - 2:51pm
    @Peter - What do you really mean by "predict correctly"? And at what point are you prepared to stop procrastinating and start taking action? Remember...
Tue 7th Jan 2020