Tag Archives: catalonia

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

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 46 Comments

We should be defending the fundamental rights of the people of Catalonia

An illegal vote. State police censoring political websites. Paramilitary police using violence against peaceful protesters. Calls from Amnesty International to release imprisoned political campaigners. The right-wing preparing to seize control of a democratically-elected government.

You might think that I’m talking about a backward dictatorship in a far-flung corner of the world. Rather depressingly, I’m not. Instead, these events are happening right now in one of our fellow EU countries.

By now, I’m sure most of you are aware of events in Catalonia. You may not be aware that this is not a sudden constitutional crisis, but the culmination of centuries of repression from Madrid and, more recently, a failure of the right-wing national government to engage in meaningful dialogue with the wealthy north-east region’s autonomous government.

Spain’s transition from the brutal dictatorship of General Franco to democracy has often been admired by foreign observers. 40 years on from the horrors of Franco’s Spain, the country is now regarded as a respected liberal democracy.

Let me be frank and shatter those illusions for you:

There is nothing liberal about national leaders refusing to engage with political problems (instead passing that responsibility to the courts and ensuring that, rather than progress reflecting changes to the political reality, the status quo is maintained at all costs).

There is nothing democratic about sending riot police in to beat peaceful demonstrators and elderly citizens to stop them from exercising the most fundamental democratic right: the right to vote.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 16 Comments

Vince: Boris should call in the Spanish Ambassador over Catalonia

It’s been really upsetting to see the scenes from Catalonia. Ok, so the referendum on independence has been ruled illegal by the constitutional courts, but there are ways of dealing with that in a peaceful manner.

No good can come of the Police’s inflammatory action.

Of course, this all has some resonance to me as a Scot. We, of course, had our own referendum on independence in 2014 after the SNP won a mandate to hold one.

Mike Moore, as Secretary of State for Scotland, acted like a grown up and negotiated with Nicola Sturgeon to produce the Edinburgh Agreement. That was really important because it gave the poll legitimacy. If the SNP had had their way, they’d have set up their own Commission to regulate it. Mike insisted that the Electoral Commission, reporting to the Scottish Parliament, should oversee it. Together, in accordance with both parties’ policies, they agreed that 16 and 17 year olds would be able to vote – something that worked incredibly well.

The outcome was a legal and fair poll which commanded confidence.  Don’t get me wrong, the referendum was one of the most horrible experiences of my life, but it was at least run properly.

Vince Cable has tonight called for Boris Johnson to call in the Spanish Ambassador over the incident;

Police in a democracy should never drag people violently out of polling stations, whatever the arguments for or against holding a referendum. The police response looks to have been brutal and completely disproportionate.

The Foreign Secretary should break off from conspiring against the prime minister and call in the Spanish ambassador to tell him that this is completely unacceptable.

Actually, he could have added in that the EU needs to speak out on this. The internal affairs of Spain are one thing, but when people are being dragged out of polling stations, that does seem to be incompatible with everything the EU stands for.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

A letter from……Catalonia

As the UK plans a referendum on Scottish independence, those of us watching from Spain can only look on in envy at the orderly and civilised process led by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Here in Catalonia, Northern Spain, similar demand exists for an independent state, but the two sides have chosen indignation and confrontation instead of a serious debate.

The last two years have been tough for all EU governing parties and Spain has unique problems, with its sky-high unemployment levels, corruption and a rickety banking system. But this month Catalans will go to the polls in a general

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments
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