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Catalan parliament declares independence from Spain (bbc.co.uk)
557 points by ryanlol 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 765 comments



It's very hard to see a discussion on this topic that does not miss the true point:

This "conflict" is the fight between nationalist movements (Spanish and Catalan) which re-enforce each other in every turn for the worse of the majority and of the European Union.

On the Catalan side, the Nationalist movement is used by dubious politicians which belong to the richer statements of Catalan society to grab power and "make history". The love of the flag and the dishonest approach to history and current socio-economics of the region are strategies followed by every other wannabe-patriot in the world. The illogical approach to their goals and the complete divorce from reality will likely hurt any further attempts for autonomy or proper independence in the long term.

On the Spanish side, the winners of this conflict are ruling right wing and all the until now minoritary extreme-right movements. Thanks to Catalonia, Spanish nationalism of the worst kind can resurface and perpetuate itself in power. It is not casual that Spanish rulers have been completely deaf to the long standing demands of a large part of the Catalonian population.

The only way the Spanish nationalists win is by having the Catalonians take the most confrontational of the paths: declaration of independence.

The only way the Catalonian nationalists win, is by having the Spaniard ones repress and provide a moral ground which supports their otherwise futile aspirations: break the law.

Whoever the winner of this fight is, it will be a sad day for Europe, because nationalism and national borders will have prevailed and this goes against everything we need to build a stronger and better EU.

The tragedy here is that, in the end, everyone loses. Politicians are not focused on crushing poverty, judges are not working to end corruption, police is not busy catching terrorists. The majority is just watching this sad show, hoping it's over soon, so they can go back to their lives which, by the way, are exactly or worse than before.


>miss the true point: This "conflict" is the fight between nationalist movements (Spanish and Catalan) which re-enforce each other in every turn for the worse of the majority and of the European Union.

To me, it seems your characterization of "true point" adds layers of abstractions such as "nationalists" and "right-wing movements". Sure, you're writing text that can be considered "correct" but it actually doesn't help people understand it better.

Would it be clearer for outsiders to look at it as a mostly economic independence? For example ... to use a (tortured) analogy, imagine that California wants to secede from the USA because citizens (especially the wealthy ones in Silicon Valley) feel too much of California tax dollars prop up poorer non-performing states like Mississippi and Alabama. Also, the corrupt USA federal government is spending too much $$ on unneeded military expenses like tanks and bailing out Wall Street. Therefore, California feels its unfair and wants independence to run their own affairs. To parallel a similar confusion of the "true point"... if we simply describe the independence movement as "State Secessionists fighting the Feds", it adds abstract labels to the opposing sides but doesn't really explain the situation.

Is there a more primary undercurrent to the Catalonia independence movement than the economic analogy above?

(One example of a Catalan pro-independence answer talking about economic grievances and corruption: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-many-Catalans-want-to-secede-fr...)


There's a LOT of people in Catalonian independence movement (or nationalists).

I guess some are in for the economic advantages. Others are in because they feel culturally different. Others because Spain is too right wing. Or because they think its their historical right. Or because the new country would be better managed. Or because an independent Catalonia can better help the peoples of the world against the tyrants of capitalism and open their borders to immigrants (true story). And I guess some are in because they need to be in a team and relate to other people.

For most there will be a mixture of reasons (good and bad). The Spanish government torpedoed and blocked initiatives for more autonomy in the past fueling this feelings above the tipping point.

Many of the real problems behind were probably addressable within an evolved Constitutional frame which the defenders of the unity of Spain never cared to look at.

Note that independence does not necessarily mean economic advantage for Catalonia. In the EU they would have to help poorer EU countries. Outside of it they would not have access to the common market (they'd probably need to become a tax heaven).


> For most there will be a mixture of reasons (good and bad).

Are there objective criteria for figuring out whether a reason is good or bad? Or do you just mean your opinion?


Just my humble opinion


On tangential note, California should secede from US.


Trump would impose a tariff on all goods coming in. And I would hope th Us govt would shut down all military and US govt aid and jobs in California if so, regardless of political party


Tariffs would hurt US more than it would California. Tariff is a cost paid by US citizens to benefit non-competitive US suppliers.


And assuming it happened, how would California protect its borders from its neighbor US?

No, that way lies madness.


California needn't have heavy border patrol if US-California relations are peaceful. For reference: see European borders. You can just walk over to another country most of the time.


Why do you call ‘nationalists’ and ‘right-wing movements’ abstractions?


You're misunderstanding what I wrote. I'm not calling nationalists (the people) an "abstraction" to delegitimize or dismiss them.

I'm saying alexandrerond's first attempted explanation of the "true point" isn't very effective because he used abstract labels such as "nationalists". The subsequent paragraphs in that post referred back to "nationalists" creating a circular explanation.

His later reply to me had more concrete examples and motives instead of abstract labels such as "right-wing". Concrete text is what more readers can identify with (especially readers who are not familiar with Catalonia's situation.)


This mischaracterization is very common. The phallacy is framing the people against nationalism as nationalists. It's the same dirty trick as saying that atheism is just another kind of religion. Of course you add the "extreme-right" insult for good measure.

Most people in Spain are not nationalists of any kind. That's just a lie. Nationalist votes are, being most generous under 10% of national grand total. People opposing to nationalism are just refusing the tribal bs.

Whoever the winner of this fight is, it will be a sad day for Europe, because nationalism and national borders will have prevailed and this goes against everything we need to build a stronger and better EU.

This nonsense we've been hearing for years: let them do whatever they want to do or else they win. WHAT?


I didn't frame anyone. I just said that the people calling the shots in this conflict are nationalists.

In fact, I'm saying the majority of non-nationalistic people are just hostages in this fight, which are only good to convert more people to the cause.


No, the people in spanish gov are not nationalists. I have a lot of bad things to say against Rajoy but nationalist is not one.

And no, non-nationalists are not hostages. We are sick and tired of nationalism and most of us would have wanted the government to react much sooner to the abuses, specially the non-nationalists living in Catalonia that are the ones that have suffered this situation more directly.


I don't know under what prism you do not consider the PP party not nationalists, when they are the direct successors of the Spanish National Catolicism movement that ruled Spain under Franco's dictatorship.


Do you know what? I was there, I saw the transition, I saw the people and I saw the evolution. What you say is not even wrong. It's just nonsense.

PP is a standard conservative party, equivalent to Puigdemont's CiU (now PDCAT) and that has been in the government with the support of CiU for years, during Aznar times.

PP turned a blind eye to catalonian nationalists' abuses when they needed them to keep power. Now they're starting to see the consequences.

Rajoy must be the laziest prime minister the world has seen. He wouldn't move a finger without absolute need for it. Even in this dramatic situtation he has hold his breath until he was risking stiff penal prosecution for himself had he not acted!!

Suggesting he is promoting the escalating is not only untrue, it's ridiculous.


You are confusing independence with nationalism. You can be pro-independence without being nationalist.


Not to be a dick about it, but a fallacy is a mistaken belief while phalluses are penises. So a 'phallacy' might mean a mistaken penis, which is oddly self-referential. :P


You should understand what they want to do us with it :)


> Most people in Spain are not nationalists of any kind.

So, according to your point, the people who wants Catalans stay Spanish at any cost and tries to deny their right of a referendum are the "non nationalist". And the ones who are fed up of the BS of the Spanish government and just want to stop being Spanish are the Nationalist...


So, according to your point, the people who wants Catalans stay Spanish at any cost and tries to deny their right of a referendum are the "non nationalist".

Catalans that want to be Spanish, I'm OK they stay Spanish. The rest I don't give a rat ass. Actually there's nothing preventing them NOW to give up citizenship and become citizens of whatever unsuspecting country that accepts them as nationals.

If they want to steal a piece of my country to have their rave there, then we do have a problem


theology: speech about god

atheism: speech about god

atheism has a theology and is a belief system, therefore it is a religion.

I'll reconsider my view when people routinely say 'oh reason' or 'oh science' while winning sport championships, hitting their knees in the dark, or having orgasms. in the meantime, my thesis is there is a reason something else comes out..


"It's very hard to see a discussion on this topic that does not miss the true point: This "conflict" is the fight between nationalist movements (Spanish and Catalan) which re-enforce each other in every turn for the worse of the majority and of the European Union."

And I think it is very hard to discuss something, by starting with telling everybody else that they are wrong. Now while it is true, that the conflict is also a clash of different nationalist, it is simply oversimplification and plainly wrong to reduce it to that. And also missleading. As the catalan nationalism is of a very different kind, than the spanish one.

From my experience, the spanish nationalism is classical chauvinism - or plain open fascism. Spain is superior. Period. Spain also never had a denazification since Franco. There simply are still many people in spain who still refer positiv to fascism. Also in positions of power. And the catalans simply want to live their culture, free from spanish interference.

The catalan language was allmost forbidden for quite some time! And many died, were tortured or disappeared who did not bow their head low enough to the fascists. So one should not forget that long episode.

But yes, recently things were a lot different - thats why most catalans would have voted no - if spain would have granted them a referendum. But since spain did not talked to them, but acted again like a empire to their peasants - it seems to many, that spain once again has dropped their masks and showed how they really are and think - so now they want to leave.

And yes, I think it is very sad for europe indeed, if this kind of empire-thinking and chauvinism gets the support of the EU. And the right of self-determination only gets taken seriously if it is some geopolitical interest, like in Kosovo.


> And many died, were tortured or disappeared who did not bow their head low enough to the fascists. So one should not forget that long episode.

Note that this happened all over Spain, it was not just Catalonia suffering this.

> Spain also never had a denazification since Franco

Spain has had a low-speed consolidation of its democratic system. It is important to realize that, even though slow, it is miraculous that Spain got out of such regime without bloodshed and successful coups (though one was attempted). The slow process is the price Spain paid for that.

Believe me when I say Catalonia is not helping to get the fascists away from power.

> The catalan language was allmost forbidden for quite some time!

Resentment may fuel nationalist feelings, but makes a bad argument in the current setting. There are so many things to be resentful about in totalitarian regimes from 40 years ago...


"Note that this happened all over Spain, it was not just Catalonia suffering this."

But they probably suffered much more than others. Definitely more than spanish thinking people.

"Resentment may fuel nationalist feelings, but makes a bad argument in the current setting."

It is not about resentment, but about the fear that those who suppressed the catalans still would do it, if they can. Openly or behind doors. And it seems that there is some truth to it, with police bashing unarmed people who just want to vote.


> they probably suffered much more than others

You must be joking... :-(


Do you know the history of spain and the civil war?

Even if not, don't you think it makes a difference for an area under spanish fascist rule, if most of the residents are pro spanish or if they are against it??


I know the history of Spain really well, being Catalan and with part of my ancestors assessinated by Franco's regime.

Being pro-Spanish did not mean shit for Franco and the fascist regime. The rebelled against a perfectly pro-Spanish republican government. The assassinated millions of socialist, communist, anarchist who were pro Spanish. Big majority of catalans were also pro Spanish and suffered prosecution.

But they supported a different Spain than the fascist/catholic nationalist Spain than Franco's side. They supported a plural, multinational Spain, where all national and regional feelings were respected and supported.


"They supported a plural, multinational Spain, where all national and regional feelings were respected and supported."

With pro-spanish I did not meant the "multinational Spain" variant. More pro spanish nation.

(And I also think that "anarchist who were pro Spanish" ... were a pretty rare type of anarchists. Unless you only meant pro spanish language. But that is pobably nitpicking, which I feel is a bit inappropriate in this topic)

So I still would think, that in general a spanish fascist would treat a spanish republican a bit better, than a catalan anarchist - but I don't think I should try to teach you your history.

So I just stop and say, that I am very sorry for your family, as well.


I know very well the history of my family, yes.

Please, take a look to this:

http://mapadefosas.mjusticia.es/exovi_externo/CargarMapaFosa...


Well, then I deeply apologize.

My first reaction to your post was also thinking that you had emotional ties to it, but then I assumed you were just some internet guy with shallow knowledge. Well, wrong. I am the guy with shallow knowledge compared to you.

Anyway, I still want to state, that I did not said that the catalans suffered the most, just "more than other areas". But I don't think I should say more on this.

I am sorry for your family.


Don't be sorry. At least my grandpa survived his death penalty and was finally released from jail, broken but alive, thus allowing my mother, (and therefore me and my brothers) a chance to born. It was close. Other people weren't so fortunate.

All this excited children in the streets acting like if they were playing Grand Thief Auto in their room, waiting hopeful for the arrival of their shiny independence war, are totally clueless about the real meaning of the term


> On the Catalan side, the Nationalist movement is used by dubious politicians which belong to the richer statements of Catalan society to grab power and "make history".

In this case, though, these politicians do so at great personal risk. Many are already imprisoned. Even if Cataluña gains sovereignty, chances are that they will be held for high treason by the Spanish authorities.

The Spanish authorities are taking basically no personal risk. If they screw the country, they can just leave on a plane, move to Switzerland or some other nice place.


> Many are already imprisioned

That's inaccurate, there are 2 civil society leaders (not politicians) imprisoned, and the alleged reason is not their support of the independence. That said, they should not be in jail (imho).

Note that greater risk is accompanied with greater personal, social gains (as a nationalist, I guess it is nice to have the chance to be a father of the nation). That doesn't give (or take from) them any legitimacy though, they just become sexier in the story that they are selling.


These two guys were the leaders of a crowd that kept under siege overnight a public building where a Catalonia court officer was making a search escorted by police.

The crowd vandalized several police cars and these two guys are caught in video on the roof of one car directing the vandals so you're right, the alleged reason is not their support of independence.

About the risk for all of these nice folks: wait and see.


Try to corner several FBI people and members of the justice system basically kidnapping them inside a building from 11 AM to 4:00 AM of the next day. Meanwhile vandalice and paint the FBI cars, fill the cars with garbage, steal weapons in the car and make selfies in the roof of the cars using a megaphone asking people to resist and not to leave.

What do you expect would happen next with your probability of facing some jail time?


Exactly. It seems that people from outside of Spain is so confused about what's happening here because they can't believe how lenient and forgiving our authorities are.

In any other country, included every single one of our close neighbours like France, UK or Germany, what we have seen here would have been inmediately stopped in the blink of an eye.


is High Treason punishable by death in modern Spain?


As I recall the EU does not allow countries that have the death penalty (even if only on the books).

Also, worth remembering, it is not High Treason if you win.



There is no death penalty in Spain.


Also the longest sentence is 30 years. Even the worst criminals used to be released on parole after half sentence. So effective maximum penalty was really 15 years.

That was reformed a few years ago to make terrorists and serial rapers serve full term.


Not of course, we are proud of not having death penalty here.


There is a very similar dynamic in U.S. politics between extremists on the right and the left, both of whom need each other in order to remain relevant. The big difference is that in the U.S. leftist extremists have been all but eliminated, so rightist extremists need to invent all kinds of boogymen to replace them. Gays and Muslims and their supporters are currently being cast in this role.


There is a very similar dynamic in U.S. politics between extremists on the right and the left, both of whom need each other in order to remain relevant. The big difference is that in the U.S. true right wing extremists have been all but eliminated, so radical leftist activists need to invent all kinds of boogymen to replace them. "White supremacists" and their supporters are currently being cast in this role.


Right. That's why there's so much controversy about taking down all those statues of Lenin around the U.S.


As a general principle, I think Catalan independence is a question for the Catalans to decide. As a foreigner, it's not my place to have an opinion on another country's self-determination. I am troubled that Spain suppressed the referendum, because it seems out of step with the behavior of other liberal, democratic, Western states. For example, Scotland and Quebec were both allowed to have referendums, and while the leaders of the British and Canadian central governments definitely campaigned to remain unified, they allowed the people to have their say.

> Whoever the winner of this fight is, it will be a sad day for Europe, because nationalism and national borders will have prevailed and this goes against everything we need to build a stronger and better EU.

I look at the secessionist movements across Europe and wonder if that's really necessarily the case.

Historically, the benefit for ethnic nations like Croatia, Slovakia, Scotland, and Catalonia to remained within larger states is largely in order to enjoy the benefits of common markets and open borders, and partially to enjoy the benefits of common defense. Doesn't the EU make those motivations less compelling rather than more compelling? The EU already provides common markets and open borders and NATO provides common defense; why can't Catalonia be their own EU member state just like Croatia, Czechia, Ireland, Malta, Slovakia, or Slovenia--all of which separated from larger states in the past?


I'm not very sold on saying that Catalonia is an "ethnic nation" (or comparable to Kosovo like some claim), but I mostly agree.

I wish the referendum would have been legal, and that independence, with a support from the majority of the Catalan population, could happen orderly if need be, with Catalonia staying as a EU member state.

However, with a right-wing government in Spain, this path is not possible. More autonomy: possibly (now I'm not sure anymore), but independence? Not with this government.

A cool-headed approach would have waited longer, paved the way for the return of the left to power, forging the right alliances with the national parties in the left-spectrum in order to get an official referendum in a new Constitutional frame, rather than throw the Catalan and Spanish society into this spiral of non-sense.

The way the Spanish parliament works (with over-represented regional parties) and the raise of Podemos would certainly have provided considerable allies for this sooner or later. Right now, the government is re-inforced, and the Socialists (!) are in the end supporting it, after having been pushed into a corner by the Catalonian goverment actions.


The question becomes, then, to what extent a separatist movement should respect the wishes of a right-wing central government to deny self-determination. As a political calculation, maybe a coalition with liberals and other separatists could result in a central government amenable to a referendum; on the other hand, if this is the first time they’ve had a referendum, that would mean they’ve waited since at least the Spanish Civil War, and that’s a lot of patience.


"'Whoever the winner of this fight is, it will be a sad day for Europe, because nationalism and national borders will have prevailed and this goes against everything we need to build a stronger and better EU."

I could not disagree more. I think the subtext here, is that you believe is that you believe everyone favoring a nation state is some form of Trump supporter or right wing Brexiter. Being in favor of your own independent state does not make you anti other people.

There is something fundamentally undemocratic about world government style of thinking. If everybody lived under the same rule, there would be no choice in how you would like your society organized.

To just put an extreme example. As a Norwegian I like my universal health care, long paternity leave, long vacation, generous welfare benefits, humane prison policy, nice work life balance etc. If we were to become an American state in the name of erasing oh those horrible borders, we Norwegians would suddenly have to adapt to American values and ways of organizing society. Values we don't share.

I think the analysis of the worlds problems is fundamentally wrong. Wars don't start over too many borders but over too few borders. So many wars are caused by civil wars, because people who don't function well together are made to share a country.

Even bigger wars such as WWI and WWII is fundamentally about this. If Germany and Italy had not been united but had stayed as a collection of smaller countries, then these wars would never have been started.

Catalonia has as much right to independence as my home country Norway. Just like Catalonia we had autonomy and democracy. But that did not change the desire to be our own country. I think it would be nutty in retrospect to claim we would have been so much better off with Sweden.

There is a reason we never became full EU members. I do believe in the EU project but it is increasingly taking away too much sovereignty from individual nations. Had we been EU members we would have lost control over our natural resources such as fishing. The EU has proved itself utterly incapable of managing its fish stock in a responsible manner. As fishing is an important livelihood for many Norwegians along the coast it would have been detrimental to the country with EU rules.

It is just one of many examples of how, while countries should cooperate, it is naive to think it is a benefit for everybody that we all share the same rules and government.


> Politicians are not focused on crushing poverty, judges are not working to end corruption, police is not busy catching terrorists.

Smaller states have fewer levels of hierarchy and are usually more efficient at what they're doing and less corrupt.

Also, people have it easier to exert pressure on their representatives, be it by throwing stones in their windows, not serving the prime minister at the local bakery or just voting with their feet.

Decentralization is often an improvement.


This might be right. But also note that Spain already features a lot of decentralization and Catalonia is at the head of this.

This is very illustrative https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_communities_of_Spai...


Take that chart with a grain of salt. Notice the text above it:

> In some cases the autonomous community may have exclusive responsibility for the administration of a policy area but may only have executive (i.e.,carries out) powers as far as the policy itself is concerned, meaning it must enforce policy and laws decided at the national level.

There is no indication of which competences are only executive and which are legislative, whereas there's a huge difference between those in practice. Also, Spain can enact laws "overriding" the transferred competences at their will...


> Spain can enact laws "overriding" the transferred competences at their will

So is Europe. Does not mean that Spain or Catalonia don't have powers on the topic.


Norway and Sweden was once in a union, and my home country Norway certainly had a lot of autonomy, yet independence brough a lot of advantages. I don't think anybody in Norway today would think staying with Sweden would have been a good idea. Nordic countries have all been together at some point, but I think we are much happier as independent countries. We do lots of cooperation anyway and have very open borders towards each other.

I don't get why it is so dam important for many people to retain huge political unions. What is so great about being big?

This idea that we will be so much happier, peaceful and friendlier if we are all just one country is easily proven wrong by the good relationship all nordic countries have with each other.

People try to perpetuate the idea that WWI and WWII started because people were too much into nation states. Quite the contrary, neither war would have started had not Germany and Italy been forged into bigger political units in the first place.

Ultimately all these wars is a result of the poisoned thinking that big is always better. It is the expansionist mindset which is at fault here, not a desire to be independent.


>I don't get why it is so dam important for many people to retain huge political unions. What is so great about being big?

Well the political leaders want to have more resources to play with, and financial elites want bigger unified markets. As to the populace they don't tend to be very pro integration. At least not until they've been bribed or convinced with beautiful visions of a prosperous future.


As an observation, a fairly standard predator/military/combat tactic is to separate your prey/target from its protective group. eg isolate it so it's easier to overcome

Catalonia doesn't seem to be directly bordered (by land) to any hostile countries though, so that's probably not a worry.


I think in fact there is always a synergy effect to centralization and an efficiency effect to decentralization.

The synergy is quite obvious and explains why big companies and nations are able to survive in spite of the lack of efficiency.

The efficiency probably stems from a smaller (communication) distance between organization members.

The efficiency effect is IMO less well-known hence the comment but you're totally right. From that perspective the above-mentioned tactic amounts to a removal of synergy. If you look at it locally (and this point doesn't really apply to armies and companies but to, e.g., herds of animals), you also cut off the communication to the other herd members so it's a win-win from the predator side.


Well put. Was thinking over this in a similar way earlier today, but didn't have a word for the strength-in-numbers effect. "Synergy" is a decent word for it. :)

With the bit about it not really applying to armies... not sure why it wouldn't. If you cut the communication lines/avenues between units in an army, they'd generally be less effective at co-ordinating (less synergy). eg less able to mount effective defensive or attacks.


Well, while the Catalan politicians will indeed enjoy power and fame if they win, they face a very unpromising future if they fail, such as prison and asset seizure. I doubt it is a rational, cost-efficient choice to support the independence.

On the other hand, the Spanish/pro-union politicians are untouchable and the risks they take, much lower.


IMHO, nationalism in Europe is not a rational. If you listen to their discourses lately, there's hardly anything rational in them. I think their fight for independence could possibly be defended rationally, but they express themselves under the assumptions that 95% of people want it and that things are 100% legal. Real world is a bit more complicated.


This is weird point that gets repeated all the time - sure, Spanish politicians have lower risks, but their potential gains are also much lower - best one seems "more political power", which is awfully short term (and the loses when they fail could be large). Catalan politicians are playing high risk / high gain game. You can't really say any side has it better.


No matter what you think Europe needs, how would you argue that the Catalonians shouldn't have a right to self determination? If, for the sake of argument, a clear majority of them want to be (fully) sovereign from Spain, do you think Madrid has a right to suppress that? And one step up, do you think Brussels has?

Do you have the same opinion about Kosovo?


Let's just take it a step further. Now East Catalonia thinks they'd be better off as an independent state, and wait now Barcelona wants to be its own city state. I understand the thirst for democracy, but there's a reason we're collectively moving towards integration as Europeans, it does make us stronger in the long run and helps bring peace and stability.


And I'd say that would be fine. Your thinking betrays a certain authoritarian paternalistic streak. That somehow the plebs can't grasp what is best for them. It ought to be assumed that people would not automatically assume ever bigger divisions is an improvement.

You have to put faith in people's ability to think for themselves. In most of these independence referendums people DO end up staying. People are not stupid. They would have likely voted to stay in Catalonia, had Spain respected their desire for a referendum and not acted so authoritarian.

Remember lots of countries have voluntarily joined the EU despite the fact that that means giving up some sovereignty. So it is simply not true that people want ever smaller units. But these decisions should be allowed to move both ways. Those who want to forge political unions should be allowed to and those who want to split should be allowed to.

When you don't allow splits, what you eventually end up with is civil wars.

I'd say the US is an excellent example of the stupidity of insisting on large political units. The country is almost ungovernable, due to the huge political polarization. Lincoln should never have tried to maintain the union. It would have save many lives and avoided future political gridlock and political polarization.


Leaving Spain (and thus, the EU) is going to have severe consequences financially and in other ways (families that have someone working in another EU country who would suddenly not be a Schengen member etc.).

Yes, the UK followed this democratic way and voted themselves out of the EU and you could argue that Catalonia should be able to do the same but as with Brexit, it would mean that close to half of the population is going to see their life affected in a way that they never wanted.

The argument that the people should be allowed to decide i these matters is often made and it's easy to view the opposite stance as condescending but there are many philosophical and pragmatic arguments against direct democracy and I think these are situations where they apply.


Is there any indication they’d like to leave the EU as well? Aren’t they very pro EU?


They are. And some argue that they would be allowed to stay but the European Commission stated that they would not (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3626_en.ht...) and I don't think it's very likely that they would be able to. At best, it's a pretty reckless bet to make.


I wouldn’t say it’s more or leas democratic to let Catalonia leave, since Spain as a whole would vote no.

But with regards to integration, Soviet fell apart. So did Jugoslavia, and then Serbia fractured further. The UK almost fell apart, and they did vote to leave the EU. Many countries in Central Europe are very sceptical of Brussels, and I would say that decentralization is at least as strong a trend as “integration”.

In any event it definitely wasn’t “we as Europeans” that demanded integration, enormous amounts of money were spent by governments to get their respective populaces to vote yes to EU. It’s very much a top down thing, and I’m not so as convinced as you that it will last.

Especially a monetary union that includes both countries like Portugal and Greece on the one hand, and Finland and Germany on the other, seems pretty brittle.


> If, for the sake of argument, a clear majority of them want to be (fully) sovereign from Spain

If this is the case, then they should have the right. That's my opinion.

But I'm also forced to acknowledge that there are other people with other opinions, that there's a shitty but standing legal system and that the current authorities and judges seem to not share the same view at the moment.

So engaging in "treason" is the fastest, but maybe not the best approach to self-determination in the long term.

It's also my opinion that self-determination does not and will not really solve the problems people face in their lives, but again, if they want to split, I wish they could do it orderly and smoothly.


I think that it is unfortunate that this seems to be the consensus among a lot of people. While there is clearly nationalism in both sides, we can't generalize and state that both pro and against independence are basically nationalist movements. That's unfair, that is simply not true.

Catalan independence movement is highly diverse, with people from extremely different political views.

The core question here, and I haven't seen it exposed, is when and under which circumstances can a certain region of a current state be allowed to become independent. Spain defends that once a majority of Spanish people decides they can, while most catalans (according to polls) want to have that sovereignty. Up until now sovereignty has been decided by force; if you are strong enough you have it. Catalonia is pushing for changes on that respect, trying to execute that sovereignty even though Catalonia does not have currently the strength to defend it.

Whether the reasons for independence are or not legitimated, the real question is when and how a certain territory can execute self determination without the need of a war. As far as I know there are no cases where the independence has been accepted from the country where the territory wanted to split from. Spain has multiple examples where they didn't accept independence (their former colonies, for instance, or Kosovo more recently).


Even the word nationalist implies that Catalonia is a nation that was never true.


The same could be said of Estonia in the recent past, and it has done quite well as an independent nation.


What does “recent past” mean for you? Estonia became independent in 1920 (or 1918 if you count since the beginning of the war of independence) and was independent until the Soviet occupation in 1940.


Considering another relevant example posted elsewhere in this thread was the Swedish War of Liberation of 1521-1523, this is as recent as I could think of actually! The fall of the USSR lends a great look into many countries' beginnings (or re-beginnings) as independent nations, despite minimal cultural differences (similar to Spain vs Catalonia).


Do you really think the republics in the USSR had only minimal cultural differences? By the way, according to the 1977 Constitution of the USSR the republics had the right to secede (of course, they didn't really have it in practice... until it happened).


this was all brought about by Rajoy's current conservative government breaking tradition and taking away Catalonia's autonomous privileges


Are you referring to acts before or after the referendum? If the former, what were they?


> On the Catalan side, the Nationalist movement is used by dubious politicians which belong to the richer statements of Catalan society to grab power and "make history".

If by "used" you meant that the rich parties jumped on the independence train while it was running, then I have no objection. On the other hand if you mean they fabricated the independence movement just for their own glory and profit, IMHO you are misunderstanding the movement. The separatist movement has existed for an arguably long time, and I'd say the demographics have leaned to the worker-class, lefty ideology (ERC and CUP).

>The love of the flag and the dishonest approach to history and current socio-economics of the region are strategies followed by every other wannabe-patriot in the world.

How has the approach to history been dishonest? And what would have been the honest/objective approach to it? I'm frankly curious, you seem to be quite certain about this.

In my experience, many Catalan pro-independence supporters are hardly nationalist or patriotic. Probably due to the fact that they have close family ties to other parts of the Peninsula(eg. Andalucía, Galiza...). However they are all strongly souverainists, which I think is the key point of the Catalan pro-independence movement. A proof of this is that, had the Catalan parliament true power to make laws on most aspects of society, the independence movement would have a really small % support.

> Whoever the winner of this fight is, it will be a sad day for Europe, because nationalism and national borders will have prevailed and this goes against everything we need to build a stronger and better EU.

I believe this is a challenge for EU, and challenges are good to build resilience. Think of it as a "Chaos Monkey" approach to the Union. IMHO the EU is not reacting accordingly to the challenge, it's not even facing it tbh. This, as a European, it's disappointing to witness. Also, why is it sad for Europe that a region self-determines as a sovereign state within Europe? Why are re-arrangements within Europe sad? And alternatively, why is an arguably unstable territory(Spain, politically) better as "one", than as "two"(or three or four) nation states within Europe? If we're all sharing the same EU umbrella...

Bigger states inside EU do not imply stronger and better EU. I'd actually argue that bigger too-powerful states(see Germany, France) can have an uncomfortable power over other smaller states.

EU is still re-defining itself. I recommend you to read some Ulrike Guérot's work[1]. Europeans should be open to rethinking/re-designing.

EU it's starting to look like an elite bureaucrats club where only "richer statements of _EU_ society grab power and 'make history'" ;).

[1]: Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUpVcJvE3UE


Let's be real for a minute. The reason this is as large of an issue is the same reason that there are very, very few peaceful secessions throughout history. Even then, "peaceful" is relative - there may not be full on war, but there are always "incidents". That reason is simple - there is no way to legally split from Spain. Things are specifically designed this way to always provide the ruling faction with the ability to claim a violation of the law has taken place and order must be restored. The same is true for the United States. There are defined rules for entities to become a member state. There is no mention anywhere in the US Constitution regarding whether or not a member state can leave the union, let alone what the process would be. An entire civil war was fought in the US over this issue.

Spain is clinging to the designed "lawlessness" that arises from any region wanting to leave it. Catalonia not being a part of Spain would substantially hurt Spain. Look at the numbers. 16% of the Spanish people live in Catalonia but they account for 19% of GDP. That 3% may not seem like a lot but when you do the math it comes out to mean that they are (((19/16)/(81/84))-1)*100=23.14% more productive than the rest of Spain in terms of GDP. That's massive. They also account for >25% of exports and 20% of foreign investment. Catalonia acts as a monetary boost to the rest of Spain. And they believe they are being taken advantage of in this regard by Spain.

Think about it this way - what options did the Spanish government have even once the court declared the original vote a few weeks ago to be unlawful? They could have allowed the vote to go on, and simply declared the results invalid/non-official/meaningless. Or they could have done what they chose to do - apply violence. Why did they make this choice? Simple - they didn't want to see the results of the vote because then the entire world would know, with certainty, what % of the Catalan people actually voted "yes". With the numbers we do have, it's a hefty percentage, certainly not some small minority that is somehow manipulating parliament.

Spain doesn't want to lose the economic boost, nor does it want to lose the land and resources. However, one must ask themselves whether or not a people have the right to choose their own government. Shouldn't people have the right to decide that their current government simply isn't working for them and they choose a new one? We already have this in democratic nations when you look at the country as a whole - the country can decide that there is change needed and take action. Why should anything change when you are simply talking about a region of the country that no longer wants to be part of the whole? Don't they still have the right to self-determination, for better or worse? This isn't really about nationalists, right wingers, left wingers, or anything like that. This is about a simple concept that has deliberately been ignored by both historical and modern governments. If a process were in place, this could be non-violent and remove much of the uncertainty.


> certainly not some small minority that is somehow manipulating parliament.

The Catalan nationalist parties won the elections. Everyone knows that they are a LOT of people (majority in most regions). There was no need send the police, unless you seek to look strong to your followers. Just like there was no need to declare the independence right now. Each party is forcing the other to the worst possible options.


They nationalist parties got more seats in the parliament, but didn't get a majority of votes. They also had some kind of urgency to declare the independence, because shortly after the election (in November 2015) they said it would be done in 18 months. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/11984...


Keep in mind that Barcelona (with 4 million people, many of them from other regions) is not as pro-independence as the rest. If you take it out of the equation, or look at results per county or town, the thing looks way different:

https://datos.elconfidencial.com/map1-independentismo-catalu...

This map shows yellow where pro-independence parties got more vote than the others.

The tragedy of Catalonia is that the most populated areas are way less pro-independence than the rest of the land. Thus, nationalists only got 48% of total votes, despite winning (clearly) in most counties.


Yes, if you ignore the people who is not pro-independence, then the independentism is a clear majority. Maybe the situation would be less tragic if those nationalist counties had tried to declare independence from the Tarragona-Barcelona arc, the Aran Valley and the rest of Spain. For sure it would be more comic.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-catalonia-...


> there is no way to legally split from Spain

There is a relatively simple way and in fact people do it all the time: emigrate to your ideal paradise or model of country and ask to be accepted as citizen there. Is easy when you are rich.


> Whoever the winner of this fight is, it will be a sad day for Europe, because nationalism and national borders will have prevailed and this goes against everything we need to build a stronger and better EU.

I presume it was also a 'sad day for Europe' when 'nationalism prevailed' and the Baltic states gained independence from the Soviet Union?

Catalonia, more so than Estonia, has a distinct culture, including a language which has, at points, been illegal to write, teach, or even speak publicly on their own land. Their ties to Spain are a result of a fascist dictator who managed to largely avoid WWII and continue his reign until he died of natural causes, with his formed empire still intact.

Why is their desire for independence some negative form of nationalism that must be stomped out? If they want to join the EU in the future, shouldn't it be on their own terms, or should they be forced to partake?

Your comments are otherwise accurate and unbiased on some points, but I don't see the problem with the whole of Europe not yearning for the same dream of a globalized, economically united continent void of national identity.


> Catalonia, more so than Estonia, has a distinct culture, including a language which has, at points, been illegal to write, teach, or even speak publicly on their own land. Their ties to Spain are a result of a fascist dictator who managed to largely avoid WWII and continue his reign until he died of natural causes, with his formed empire still intact.

I'm sorry, but those things are simply untrue. Estonia does have a completely different language than Russian, and Estonians are culturally also different than whatever the rest of the URSS was (indeed, one of the largest problems Moscow had in URSS times was keeping together such a collection of disparate cultures). Regarding Catalonian ties to Spain, they very much predate Franco, by several hundred years.


>Catalonia, more so than Estonia, has a distinct culture

What makes you say that?

Estonia is a protestant country of Finnic people speaking a Finno-Ugric language that is completely unrelated to even the Indo-European language family.

Soviet, like Russia now, was a Eurasian empire mostly made up of Orthodox Slavs speaking a Slavic language. These are quite distinct cultures, at least as different as Germany and France (yes, both these are also patchworks like Spain but you get the point).

Catalonia is distinct, but they have a similar language, the same religion and much shared history. It's more like Sweden and Denmark.


You're right that Estonia was not the best possible example in terms of lingual similarity, and Lithuania would've served the purpose better in terms of recent history.

Sweden and Denmark are a great choice, but I think the Swedish War of Liberation is too far back in history to be acknowledged as a relevant example today.

I was mostly attempting to point out our inconsistencies in supporting the independence of so many regions from world powers that we in the West dislike, but we seem very dismissive of cries for independence from within our own borders that seem to hold equal validity.


You mean when Sweden left the Kalmar Union? I was just talking about the similarity of cultures actually, the brief period, one year?, when the Danish king ruled Sweden was just a blip...

But I agree about inconsistency. Just because politicians bring up ethical reasons for supporting some issue doesn’t mean that is the actual reason. Human rights abuses are only a problem when Russia or Iran commit them, not Saudi.

And I’m sorry but I don’t think Lithuania is a good example either, it’s a Catholic Baltic state with an imperial past of its own. Slightly more Russian perhaps than Estonia, but not by much.


Perhaps I am biased being Norwegian, but the obvious countries to compare to here is Sweden and Norway. Norway was until fairly recently (1905) part of Sweden, and like Catalonia we had great levels of autonomy, our own parliament and democratic elections. Like Catalonia we also are culturally very similar to Sweden. Certainly more so than Denmark.

Like Catalonia we had not been an independent country for a very long time. In fact Norway existed as an independent country so far back that Spain didn't even exist as a country then.

Like Catalonia, when Spain gained its independence it had not previously existed as an independent country. The same could be said about the Netherlands. Netherlands like Catalonia was also once part of Spain. Until it declared independence from Spain, it had never existed as a country.

In fact this has been a problem for dutch identity, in that there really is no clear way to identify dutch national identity before independence from Spain.

Which I thing brings me to the point, that ultimately it is about what people feel themselves.

Despite not having been independent for almost 600 years, Norwegians still felt like they were a different people than Swedes or Danes.


> Their ties to Spain are a result of a fascist dictator who managed to largely avoid WWII and continue his reign until he died of natural causes, with his formed empire still intact.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the last Catalonian independence attempt was crushed by the left Republican government before Franco showed up.

It's so tiring to go back all the time to the historical arguments... there are no borders who have stayed the same through history. You can use the exact same argument to justify why Catalonia should be part of Spain and why it should not.


From my not so knowledgeable point of view we have:

It seems the Spanish government messed up massively here. Instead of embracing a referendum about independence they decided to flatly declare it illegal and attempt to ignore the problem.

If they initially embraced the referendum they could have won, I believe that a Yes vote to independence nearly always ends up failing. But instead what happened is, they blankly declared it illegal and hoped that would be the end of it. While parties who were against independence were telling people to boycott it and parties for it telling people to vote yes. It seems the only outcome there is a massive yes vote.

Once they had the massive yes vote, they have a democratic mandate for independence. Not only that, they get to say they have 90% mandate. The only way forward from that is for the Spanish government to back down and start negotiations or for indepence to be declared.

Here we are as Catalan declares independence, which it seems can either turn into a civil war, a flat-out failure with everyone arrested, Spain eating some humble pie to get them back to the table, or Spain just accepting Catalan is gone. It'll be interesting to see what happens.


The key point for me was when Spain announced that they were going to remove Catalonia's autonomy and dissolve its parliament. What did they expect Catalonia to do?

This seems like an iconic example of what NOT to do when faced with an independence referendum. Compare the situation in Scotland or Canada, where AIUI the central government grudgingly permitted the referendum, campaigned on the issue locally, and offered symbolic concessions to local autonomy while focusing heavily on the pragmatic risks and costs of independence. In Catalonia by contrast we have plenty of images of the police violently disrupting the referendum and independence protesters, then pledging to end local autonomy altogether.


You summed it up really well.

I think the issue lies in that those central governments have become more tame over time, while Spain hasn't. They were largely united under a dictator where, in the very recent past, it was illegal for Catalans to teach their language or even speak it publicly.

Spain realizes the fragility of their position, and they're choosing to lash out in the same way Franco would have.


> they're choosing to lash out in the same way Franco would have.

sigh... Again asking for the blood bath?

What really Franco would have done? Well, Franco would have killed hundred-thousands of people. Again.

How many Catalonian independentists has been killed by the current spanish government since october? ZE-RO?.

Wake-up. Zero is not equal to thousands. Talk seriously or don't talk but please, stop with all this Franco BS. This comparison is insulting for any people with more than two alive brain cells that endured the Franco regime.


Sorry, you seem to have taken my words the wrong way.

The overall reaction of "we're going to assume direct control and remove your governmental power" is one of lashing out and entitlement, and an attitude that doesn't work as evidenced by the comment I was responding to concerning the methods other countries have chosen.

I meant that this reaction is in a Franco-like, dictatorial direction, not that their reaction is of the same magnitude (on the other side is the UK's replies to Scotland's desire for independence, for example).


This is probably because Spain is a sovereign state, and therefore is a different juridical entity.

Spain is not UK. Both situations aren't neither correlated nor comparable. In the same way that Londoners can't play with firearms in their backyards arguing than people in Texas can explode things all the time; Catalonians shouldn't enjoy the same level of independence than X merely by the argument than X exists somewhere.

The truth is that Catalonia would strongly reject a referendum to achieve the current Scotland status. They enjoy currently much more privileges and freedom to manage their resources at will, than scots can dream.


It seems to me that Catalonia has put the rest of Spain in a "no win" situation. If Spain tries to prevent the (unconstitutional) vote, then Catalonia tries very hard to push to have the vote anyway, and Spain either has to enforce their ban on the vote (which means violence), or else back down. If Spain doesn't forbid the vote, then the vote gains legitimacy in public opinion. So either Spain's the bad guy (because violence), or they're a paper tiger, or they tacitly say that it's OK for Catalonia to vote on independence despite what the constitution says.


If the referendum has no legal weight, then going to such lengths to quash it instead magnifies its importance, since the Spanish government clearly views it as being more dangerous than it is.


I get the sense it's the tail wagging the dog now in Madrid. They scored political points with the rest of the country keeping "those Catalonians" in line.

Now that action is required, the rest of the country is so riled up there's little room for compromise.


Some people does not understand that the independence referendum is a MacGuffin here. Not the main goal.

Is just a symbol of power. Another step to bend the arm of the central government again, not the end of the agenda. Catalonian people had another referendum in 2016, plus one free elections in between. Is insane to keep asking for a referendum each 6 months until independence is forced


That's not true. There was no referendum in 2016 and there is no "keep asking for a referendum" because the only referendum held was 1-O, and did not come from an agreement with Spanish government.

If Spain would have agreed on a referendum, the current situation would be very different.


You are right, it was in november 2014, not 2016. My bad. Time flies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_self-determination_ref...

Thanks for the correction


Not quite that simple from what I understand. A week before the vote the Catalan parliament passed two laws, one that a referendum should be held and one that if yes to independence won, regardless of turnout, independence would be unilaterally declared. No way that the spanish government could allow that to go ahead unchallenged. Its worth noting that they have allowed nonbonding votes previously, there was one in 2014 with similar results and turnout. Its the fact that this one was binding that caused the crisis. https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2017/09/e...


>It seems the Spanish government messed up massively here. Instead of embracing a referendum about independence they decided to flatly declare it illegal and attempt to ignore the problem.

Did they? The EU doesn't support Catalan independence, the US doesn't support the movement, the Catalan independence has 0 backing from any outside source, while most countries see this as an internal affair within Spain. Madrid even loosened rules on Spanish companies, allowing them to easily move their headquarters to Madrid, triggering an exodus out of Barcelona. The response was certainly heavy-handed, but the table is definitely in Madrid's favor.

>Here we are as Catalan declares independence, which it seems can either turn into a civil war, a flat-out failure with everyone arrested, Spain eating some humble pie to get them back to the table, or Spain just accepting Catalan is gone.

Catalan has 0 outside support and the support within the region is fractured as well, with Barcelona split on opinion. Many major companies have already moved their headquarters from Barcelona to Madrid. Spain has constitutional powers vis-a-vis Article 155 to impose authority. All signs point to this independence movement being a flop.


Countries will support the likely winner, or more specifically, whichever choice is advantageous to their national interests.

When Turkey's coup took place, for example, Western countries absolutely wanted Erdogan gone and Ataturk's values restored. It wasn't until the coup had clearly failed that the vast majority of countries expressed support for Erdogan and his regime.

Who supports who doesn't confer any moral validity to a people's right to democracy and independence, though I understand if you mean the practical advantages of support.

Either way, we may quickly see these international attitudes change as events progress, especially if Spain takes away autonomy in Catalonia.


You dont need outside support to declare independence, it is of no concern to those in Catalan what the US or anyone else thinks. The best course of action for the Catalan parliament would have been to call an election and then if they won it with a decent majority used that as their mandate to declare independence. As it is they dont have a solid mandate so it is easier for Spain and the EU to ignore them, however all those Catalans who didnt support independence may well change their minds if the spanish army comes rolling into Barcelona.


"You don't need outside support to declare independence" is a philosophically pleasing but politically unsound idea. It's the sort of thing that leads to martyred revolutionaries instead of redrawn boundaries on a map.


> You dont need outside support to declare independence

You don't. But you do need it for anyone in the world to accept is as a fact. A region like that cannot isolate itself from the rest of the world.


If a group of people had enough military might to declare themselves independent and not fall to subsequent invasion, then it doesn't matter what the rest of the world "thinks", they are independent.


They may be independent in some sense but it still matters a great deal. If other nations don't accept your sovereignty you can't really have trade or diplomatic relations. Just ask South Ossetia, Novorossia or Transdnistria. These days it's pretty pointless to be independent if you can't have foreign trade.


I'm pretty sure most sub-regions wouldn't trade their political dependence for North Korean-style independence (but I admit to not knowing the hearts and desires of most people ;) ).


Well, there's the Abkhazia option where you become a weird pseudo-state with no recognition. It's not great, even if you have a big friend like Russia who does recognize you.


> You dont need outside support to declare independence, it is of no concern to those in Catalan what the US or anyone else thinks.

Good luck without being self-sufficient.


based on the figures, that they contribute 20% to spains GDP and get back 14% it would seem that they are on their way to being self sufficient


By the same logic NYC can be independent of the NYS and the rest of the United States, which is ridiculous considering that it won't be able to withstand a week without food and fuel supplies from outside the five boroughs.


Independence does not mean without trade.


When your trading partners do not recognize your independence you won't be trading with them.


I keep reading this in international media. The Spanish government didn't declare the referendum illegal. It was the top court, which is independent from the government. The government ensures that the law is applied once that is decided. That said, I think Spain should have held a referendum (by changing the constitution). Everything would have been much easier.


In the US "the government" typically applies to either all three branches (courts, legislature, executive) or occasionally to the latter two only. The latter definition is typically only used in the case of a lawsuit involving the state. This is in contrast to parliamentary systems where the government is formed of the dominant political party or coalition in parliament, and also gets to act as the executive branch. The US almost always uses the first definition (all 3 branches are government), parliamentary systems almost always use the second (courts aren't government).

In the first (more common) US-style sense, the government certainly did declare the referendum illegal.


> more common

This doesn’t sound right. I’d like to see some proof of this. I’m from India and I only use government to refer to the legislature which happens to commingle with the executive branch. I’d love to join the mainstream if my usage is in the minority.

Also, Spain is a parliamentary monarchy so in a thread centered on Spanish politics, I feel you should use the word government as used by Spaniards.


It's more common in the US for government to mean all three branches. It seems to be more common in parliamentary countries for government to mean just the legislative branch (and possibly, when present, the monarch's implied consent?).

This is a point of confusion here, because this is a US based discussion site. So US persons say 'the government suppressed the election', Spain persons say 'no, the government didn't do it, the courts did it'.

To the US person objecting, it doesn't make a huge difference if judicial, legislative, or executive is suppressing an election -- suppressing an election is bad. How can a vote be illegal? Certainly the referendum may not be legal, and that should be decided by the courts, but we're not used to that being decided before holding the vote.

But do you have a word for the whole of government in the US sense? I can't think of something that's not awkward.

Edit to add: In the US sense, government also includes military and police. In the US those are mostly part of the executive branch, but may act at the direction of the judicial or legislative branches. In some countries the military is an effectively separate branch of government.


"more common" may just mean "more common in US English". There are good reasons for the term to have a different meaning in the US and other English-speaking countries with parliamentary systems.

As an American, though it is absolutely true that I think of "the government" as including the courts, because the government of the US is established by the Constitution, which establishes all three branches. There's not even good reason to talk about a "governing party" most of the time, except for rare times such as now when the Republicans control all three branches of government.

US news media using the word "government" are of course going to use the word "government" in the American English sense. Reporters or copyeditors may not even realize there is a distinction to be made.


I suspect your usage of the term is much more common in India (and possibly other nations outside the US).

I'm really curious as to whether this difference in interpretation is just a linguistic fluke, or if it actually reflects some larger cultural difference in how we in the US view our government compared to how people in India and Spain view theirs.

Do you have a different word which encompasses all governmental bodies and organizations? The State, perhaps? Or would you not consider the courts to be part of the State either? Obviously the courts are involved in governing, since they interpret the law and they have legal authority granted by the constitution. How then are they not part of the government?


> The State, perhaps?

This is also confusing in nations where administrative regions are called states. I've seen some media refer to Catelonia as a state, although I believe the term used in Spain is autonomous community.


Internationally “government” refers to either the monarchy in a strong authoritarian regime, or the ruling coalition in parliament. The US model of separate but equal powers in a federation is somewhat unique.. although it is more of clusters on a spectrum and many countries copied he US model (or had it forced upon them).


Most definitions of government include the judicial system as part of government. I don't know much Spanish, maybe they have different words for the different parts of government, but no word that describes all of government in general, so maybe it is just a translation issue.


All 12 of the members in the Spanish "top court" (Constitutional Tribunal) are appointed by the king himself.

8 of them are proposed by the legislative branch (parliament and senate), 2 by the executive, and 2 by the judicial.

Whether that makes the tribunal as a whole independent from the government or not is an opinion I leave to the reader.


Please don't bend the facts for your own bias. The king doesn't appoint those judges, will just ratify and is pretty much symbolical. They do have political influence but is kept balance traditionally. Just because everyone has political inclinations you cannot blame it of being controled by the government.


Who is paying the judges wages? For important matter like that, it is difficult to trust that the State and the government have totally no implication.


That probably would have been the better move as far as "optics" are concerned, but the Spanish constitution states that this kind of referendum is illegal.

In any case -- I think the ruling party in Spain wanted this to flare up so they could consolidate political support during the next election, since most of Spain is adamantly opposed to Catalan independence.


As a Canadian kid, i never understood why they would let Quebec go through with a referendum. Seems insane to just "divorce" a country (for lack of better words). As i grew up, i thought it was pretty progressive to allow it. As an adult, it seems like the only logical tactical option.

A lot of people will claim that it isn't legal. They will be right. But their constitution wasn't written with modern times in mind. <b>Without violence</b>, how is Spain going to stop Catalan from succeeding? What if Catalan gets violent? How will Spain respond?

There are very few good moves left here for Spain.


> But their constitution wasn't written with modern times in mind.

1978 really wasn't that long ago. I'd call 1978 modern times!


It was coming out of a fascist dictatorship at the height of the Cold War. I’d say the context was pretty far removed from the modern EU, even if it was in living memory.


Counterpoint: it is only a year after their facist dictator died: Germany in 45 and 95 were very different places.


1978-1975=3


> Without violence, how is Spain going to stop Catalan from succeeding?

Empire of Law.


Not true. It states that this kind of a referendum is invalid.


I won't split hairs with you on that, but -- right or wrong -- Spain's Constitutional Court ordered the referendum stopped, and the Spanish government moved to enforce that order.


>>> If they initially embraced the referendum they could have won

The UK government thought like you.

It allowed the people to vote for Brexit, thinking it would never pass.

And here we are today.


The UK government did exactly that and got a no vote to the Scottish independence.

The Brexit vote was full-on farce, people literally had no idea what they were voting yes to. How could they, there was no plan.


The plan was laid out clearly. The question asked of the electorate was also clear.

February 2016

The process for withdrawing from the European Union Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachm...

2.1 The result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be final. The Government would have a democratic duty to give effect to the electorate’s decision. The Prime Minister made clear to the House of Commons that “if the British people vote to leave, there is only one way to bring that about, namely to trigger Article 50 of the Treaties and begin the process of exit, and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away”.

The referendum question, June 2016 :

---

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

[ ] Remain a member of the European Union

[ ] Leave the European Union

---

Of the votes cast

51.9% Leave (17,410,742), 48.1% Remain (16,141,241)

Electorate 46,501,241

37.4% of the electorate voted to leave

34.7% of the electorate voted to remain


21 pages, is not a plan. The Scottish independence plan was 500 pages or something.

Also, that "plan" merely states they will trigger article 50. Not what they will do after that. Which is the important part of the whole process. There was no talk of soft or hard brexit. No talk of how much it would cost, no talk about anything other than "We'll trigger article 50". Which it actually turned out, the plan was flawed because they legally couldn't do it and had to create a new law.


Notice that for all the Catalan low turnout has been hyped, they've actually got a higher proportion of the electorate than voted for Brexit:

43.03% * 91.96% = 39.57%


And they had uniformed thugs trying to prevent the vote outside many of the polling sites. A 40% turnout is remarkable.


I don’t think it’s valid to claim the non voters in an aggregate 65%. Otherwise you could say 68% of the country didn’t vote to leave. Which presumably means it was a stronger position.

Edit - I see you removed that claim.


68% also didn't vote to stay. It always gets silly when you try to make arguments about vote percentages based on the entire population because they always work completely in reverse as well.


Agree entirely, that was my point.


Yes, I was copy pasting my post from elsewhere which was in response to the opposite claim :)


The UK public has historically been one of the most eurosceptic countries in europe and certainly the most eurosceptic in the EU. When given an actual chance to vote on the issue amazingly the British public followed through... who could possibly have seen that coming?

The farce is that people who should've known that were somehow shocked by it.


Only in recent history. Post-war through to the eighties, it was pro-Europe and influential in Europe (at least, the EC, etc.)


The British are not sceptic about Europe, they're sceptic about the EU. There is no farce. 67% voted to join the EC in 1975 and 52% voted to leave the EU in 2016.


We voted "in" to the common market.

We voted "out" of the common parliament.


Firstly Spain is in no better a condition now than it would have been had it allowed a vote and campaigned and lost.

Secondly, a more accurate UK comparison would probably be with the Scottish referendum, which was won by those who wanted to remain part of the UK and so Scotland did remain part of the UK.


I don’t think that’s true. The violence that occurred on the day of the vote and the uncompromising attitude of the Spanish govenrment likely caused things to escalate more quickly than it would have otherwise.


Yeah, what a disaster that was. Time to take a step back and reconsider this whole "democracy" sham for what it is. All it does is let the clowns run the circus. And once commoners are voting, who knows what else they'll be doing.


Or you know - attribute malice and responsibility to the people spreading fallacies and fanning the flames of discontent for political gain?

Matter of fact this should be read as a win for direct democracy and responsibility- you believe that you can get away with your rhetoric ? Well sucks to be you. People liked what you are selling.

I think this calls for stronger links between claims and actions. A stronger more automatic contract between the people voting and the people making the claims.

I think brexit was a monumentally sad moment, the cross roads between the old world and the new connected world. The resulting decisions based on emotions and a super biased media system results in brexit.

The media helps spread junk for political points and as revenue, and the new political class believes that they can get away with it. A belief bubble that requires treatment - via holding people to task for the words they used.

Bah. Who am I kidding. If it was so easy - it would have been done already


And that’s great. People have a right to self determination. Not just who they vote for, but who votes with them. Without it democracy is a sham.


People also have the right to remain. It is not clear that a majority wants to secede, the percentages are close to 50% though. So want happens with the rest of the people. Besides the independent Catalunya movement does not apply that freedom to its regions and considers Catalunya indivisible (For instance they deny the right of Tarragona to secede an hypothetical Catalunya state https://youtu.be/3eS-j9Wx8lw?t=999).


But it's my understanding that most people didn't vote against seceding either, which does not mean that they want to stay.


I wonder what’s your take on Crimea and Russia in this case.


If an identifiable geographic region wants to secede, and there is sufficient support among the public, it should be able to do so. Crimea I think falls into that group: 93% voting in favor of joining Russia with 83% turnout.


I think there needs to be more than just a geographic region. A people have a right to self-determination. I'm not sure if any group of persons should. You need to look at history, ethnicity, language, culture, etc.


Fair point.


How does it fall in that group? That's a referendum taken out of the blue, just weeks after Russian military takeover of the region.


> It allowed the people

Let's remember that it was not against the law of the EU or the UK...

So yes I think it should have.


> it seems can either turn into a civil war

When only one of the sides have weapons, there can not be a civil war, only a genocide. I am convinced that there is a limit on the violations of Human Rights that Europe will be able to tolerate from a state member.


"civil war", "genocide". Come on people, don't throw these words willy-nilly, leave that to bad news outlets.

Yes, the spanish government was quite brutal in its attempt to stymie the referendum (probably unnecessarily so) but we're not on the verge of a catalan genocide in any way, shape or form. If you keep abusing words they end up losing their meaning.


Is it genocide to shoot at protesters if they are primarily a particular ethnicity?

Because that may be what Spain has to do to force Catalonia to comply.


I think they'll be shooting less because they're a particular ethnicity and more because they're rioting, protesting the decision, or directly fighting the government. Ethnic differences would be coincidental in such an occurrence.


"Quite brutal" by the standards of the ordinary course of civil society, yes. "Quite brutal" by the standards of governments facing an insurrection? Not so much.


Yes, the spanish government was quite brutal in its attempt to stymie the referendum

That's wrong. There were a handful of injured, don't believe the propaganda. Most international media that were fooled by that lies have acknowledged this much.


Regardless of the scale and strength of the repression I'm still of the opinion that it was unwarranted. Declare the referendum to be illegal, tell lawful spanish citizens to stay home then disregard the results. Maybe prosecute the people organizing the referendum if the law allows it.

Even though the referendum was illegal it didn't create any imminent danger. Therefore I think the use of force by Madrid was disproportionate. It also effectively backfired by making the independentists look more sympathetic even though their motive is for the most part rather selfish at the core.


It's true that it was a disaster but not because they tried to prevent it, but because they didn't the obvious thing and sent the police one day earlier. The videos that are in that page are not particularly violent, just what you would expect when people resist the police.


Oh FFS. We know what we saw on TV outside your little PP-controlled broadcast TV bubble. I was watching footage of your police beating the shit out of people all day long.

This particular argument -- "fake news, it didn't happen" -- is outside of Spain the most ridiculous Trumpish nonsense imaginable. "Lies"? I saw it with my own eyes in real time. Looking us right in the eye and insisting that black is white is offensive.


Are internet, Twitter and Youtube now controlled by PP? I don't think so.


I will just leave this here:

https://spanishpolice.github.io/


It's interesting to see how quickly people will downplay and deny the actions of the Guardia Incivil.

If the referendum is illegitimate, why suppress it? ;- )


Because they were planning to spend millions of euro in an illegal thing. Money directly stolen from people like you and me.


Sending the cops in seems like throwing good money after bad. The ballots were already printed, etc.


The Spanish government regularly wastes Catalonian money, including sending in police to suppress this technically illegitimate vote. Whatever this vote cost to administer, it is a pittance in the grand scheme of things, especially considering the people seem to be willing to bear the economic burden of attempting to gain sovereignty.

If their crime is misappropriating funds for the referendum, then surely the police should be arresting the politicians, not harassing the public at large.


Because they were planning to spend millions of euro in an illegal thing, and use the results to try to legitimize the illegal thing in the eyes of the world.


Having 11.000 Spanish policemen in Catalonia, including the ones in the Lonely Tones ship, costs 33M EUR a day.


If the referendum is illegitimate, why suppress it? ;- )

If murder is illegitimate, why suppress it? Brilliant.


If you could save murder victims retroactively by just not recognizing the murder, this analogy might land.


If the alternative is direct military intervention by the other member states, I suspect they're prepared to tolerate quite a bit.


They may not have much arms now, but they have money. There are certainly states that would not mind selling them arms for profit.

While secession will be troublesome, there are not many attempts at preventing secession that have not turned ugly violent in recent years because of attempts to prevent it.

I lived through a non-violent federation split and certainly hope for this outcome elsewhere. In the case of my country majority of the people didn't want the split either. Despite that it was possible to happen without violence.


> When only one of the sides have weapons, there can not be a civil war, only a genocide.

Certainly an argument in support of the second amendment of the United States.


I suspect the only reason the US government lets Americans think the second amendment would enable the population to forcibly remove an undesirable government, is because the weapons and strategic/tactical/leadership skills of the population are vastly out-classed by the armed forces.

What good is a semi-automatic against a supersonic jet that just fired an air-to-ground missile in your direction? Plenty of AK-47s in Afghanistan, they don’t even take on subsonic drones effectively.


In other asymmetric warfare situations, supersonic jets have done very little to end a conflict. No sane person would ever want to start a war with a civil militia containing nearly all able-bodied men in a region; it's bad enough when just a couple per cent are against you, all with small arms. Imagine how bad it would be with 20%, 30%, 40% of the able-bodied against you.


But most of those small arms suck.

In Vietnam and Afghanistan they had weapons being sent to them including stuff like artillery and mortars.

A bunch of militia with store bought guns(many pistols or hunting rifles) doesn't really compare to guys supplied with full automatics and RPGs.


Consider also that there are arms manufacturers and state militias all across the country. If it's California, they have (some of) Northrop Grumman. If it's Virginia, they have General Dynamics Mission Systems.


Both of which can get magically disappeared in hours with the superior weaponry and numbers in the hands of the federal government.


Yeah, it'll work out really well when the U.S. military uses their General Dynamics Mission Systems radios to order their General Dynamics Mission Systems drones to fire General Dynamics missiles at General Dynamics. While their General Dynamics M1 Abrams tanks and General Dynamics Stryker AFVs roll through the streets to kill the civilians.

This is not the way things would play out. The federal government would twiddle their thumbs and say that they are very cross with the separatists, and we'd all get on with our lives.


I thought the implication was the tanks rolling up at General Dynamics offices and factories to “protect national security assets from terrorists”, and the General Dynamics CEO welcoming them with the closest one can get to open arms when you’re wearing heavy body armour.

“Disappeared” isn’t just destroying, it’s capturing, too.


Gotcha, sounded at first a lot like "attack General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman because lol we can".

> ...the closest one can get to open arms when you’re wearing heavy body armour.

Ironically, heavy body armour (depending on the width of the chest plate near the breast) is likely to force you to have open arms, not the opposite.


You really think in a rebellion they would allow them to legally sell guns in mass quantities?


It takes very little for normal people to produce explosives and IEDs.


IEDs are cute compared to artillery or anti-aircraft.


When tyranny starts to come in there's a long period where the government can order the police / military to stand down, but doesn't have the power to order them to commit atrocities themselves.

So there's usually a violent group of government supporters who don't have any special arms or training. eg, Hitler's brown shirts.

The second amendment is very affective against them.


If the alternative is genocide then I'll take my chances. Asymmetric warfare is a real option and with enough turned generals and armed forces you'd have access to the same high powered weapons and the people could form a militia as well.


Genocide isn’t the alternative but rather the escalation in the hypothetical where the 2nd Amendment is relevant. The US does have nukes, after all.


I don't imagine there would be popular support for the U.S. government nuking Americans in Seattle over a sovereignty dispute.


It would only come to nukes if the other side escalated to weaponry just below nukes. In that case, it's not "nuking Americans in Seattle", it's "nuking well organized terrorist cells using advanced weaponry, in order to save further loss of life."

The point is that no matter how much "power" the federal government has granted to civilians via the 2nd amendment, the federal government will ALWAYS have more.


Neither do I, but the US doesn’t currently have any serious independence movements and last time it did things went very badly indeed.


It would never be “over a sovereignty dispute”, it would be to stop what the rebels were imminently going to do in that sovereignty dispute. Nuking is extreme, but there will always be (at least, in the eyes of the government) a excuse to escalate to the level beyond what is available to the rebels to protect the innocent threatened by them.


Those weapons only win if you don't care about civilian losses (that is one way to win a counter insurgency, see Mandatory Palestine) - but by not caring about civilian casualties I mean you have to be willing to commit genocide (again, see the British actions in Mandatory Palestine).

If you do care about civilians (and I assume the US armed forces would be forced to care) a jet is probably not worth much against an AK-47, as long as that AK-47 is in the hands of a guy who is willing to hang out close to a bunch of civilians.

Again you can win a counter insurgency either by winning over the local population or by utterly destroying it (see manda, the Island of Melos).


Who is a civilian in a civil war in a nation which has a constitutional right to bear arms?


I wouldn't cite Afghanistan as an example of how well military high-tech works for suppression. If it did, it wouldn't be and wouldn't have been such a mess.


On the other side, if I remember correctly a few AK47 and bunch of men was pretty strong against USA army in Vietnam. How come?


Maybe the jungle had something to do with it. And also in the 60s and 70s USA did not had drones.


US army is not authorized to operate on US soil. I like how you want to drag this conversation into something totally else.


I’m not American, I didn’t know that, and given this is a hypothetical anyway I don’t really think that restriction matters.


Then what is the alternative? Wouldn’t you rather die with the honor of defending you and your families liberty than live under an oppressive regime?

The argument that “the government is too strong they’d beat you with your puny guns” is so incredibly short sighted. You’re discounting the power the rifle gives the people not only as a weapon but a symbol of freedom and revolution. An armed society is a deterrent at the very least.

Mozambique’s flag has an AK47 on it for a reason.


I would flee a country if and when it looked like that country was too far down a bad path.

I am in the process of doing so now, as it happens — leaving the UK because of the Investigatory Powers Act, because the Home Secretary wants to ban unbreakable encryption without understanding it, and because Brexit removes one of the major obligations to follow international human rights laws which would allow me to sue the government to fix that law.

I’d rather pick my battles and live somewhere new, than die an unknown and unnamed victim of a remote death machine.


But the referendum was invalid because of the constitution, you can't ignore the constitution because you want, you need to change the constitution.


If the referendum is invalid, even more reason to let it happen if you can't make it go away. Ignore it, make sure those friendly to you promote the idea of participating especially if you are against it. If "leave" doesn't have a clear victory, you can point to it for why you are against them leaving. If they do, your position is at least not worse than it is now, and probably better since you haven't burned most of the goodwill people have towards the government.

(It's my understanding that the laws passed by the local catalonian parliament that said things would happen as a consequence of the referendum result were thoroughly voided before the referendum due to being against both spanish and catalonian rules. At that point, one should be able to treat the referendum as just a poll to inform future politics)


Maybe you are right, but the scenario is this: 1 a group of people organizes a referendum or something similar 2 someone else complains at the Constitutional Court or whatever is the institution that has(by law) decide if the act is constitutional or not 3 if the thing was declared illegal the institution that has (by law) stop the illegal thing must act

My country has a similar constitution, a region can't separate unless the constitution is changed. Probably this is not fair for some regions but it is how it is, you can't decide to ignore constitution, not sure how this is in your country. I was hoping that in future EU would unite us and we get rid of the nationalistic views and finally borders.


This is really not a useful argument. Self determination is a natural right. The idea that it's against the law to seek it doesn't work when the people themselves are arguing they don't want to be under that law.


Then you should use the process laid by the constitution to change it, not unilaterally decide the law doesn't apply to you.


This argument seems a little bunk to me. Certainly my nation (US) wouldn't exist if they followed this logic.


It wouldn’t exist either if unionists had not fought and won a war against secessionists.


But then you can apply same logic when a city or a village vote to not pay taxes there, or have special rules, my opinion is that constitution is a very important law and there is a reason that changing it requires the majority to vote(probably differs by country). I understand your point but to get the independence is something extreme in this case it should not be a simple process but something more complex otherwise bypassing the constitution can happen every month.


Poker doesn't define rules for deciding when to play hearts.

This referendum may have been 'illegal' according to the rules of one game, but that's the point - some folks want to play another.

(Not taking a side on the matter; not my country, I'm woefully under-informed.)


Referendums are a way of converting democratic mandates into decisions; but the democratic mandate doesn't go away just because the referendum isn't valid.

More than 50% (70 of 135) of the democratically elected local parliament voted for independence too.


The referendum was not just illegal, it was clearly rigged. The local parliament lack the power the vote for independence, that's just a farce.


So Spain gets to keep Catalonia as a colony because it is the one with power to make the rules?


A colony of Spain? What is that based on?


The definition of the word colony

From google:

> a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country, typically a distant one, and occupied by settlers from that country.

From wikipedia:

> In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign.

If Spain asserts itself as the ruler of Catalonia, without the will of the Catalans, it appears to me that the word is very apt.


Except not one of the requirements is meet: Catalonia is part of Spain since Spain was created with the marriage of the Reyes Católicos. Catalonia is not another country, is just a part of the same country, in the same peninsula as the most part of Spain, is not occupied, hasn't been independent ever... Also it's one of the richest regions of Spain, demanding just to avoid to support with taxes to poorer regions.


I suppose the word colony is a matter of perspective. But I have a hard time equating Catalonia to the offshore territories the Europeans considered colonies in the past (and still to some extent). Especially considering that Catalonia was part of the European collonialism as part of Spain and profited from it as well. In which point in History Catalonia exactly was that distinct territory that was invaded by Spain?


Sure, but that’s not an unchangeanle fact. It’s totally legitimate, and a good constitutional and political move, to legislate for referenda where appropriate. It’s what happened in Scotland, and that was vastly more peaceful.


Everyone keeps talking about the constitution as if it is set in stone. The constitution was made by people, 50 years ago. It can and should be changed to reflect new realities.


Then change the constitution instead of blithely ignoring it and conducting an illegal election.


Catalonia has, unfortunately, 0 power in changing the Spanish constitution. It's up to Spain's good will to do so. And we have seen enough examples of such will.


Did they tried? I did nto read that they proposed it and had a referendum about changing it.


And those people probably put in rules on how to change it, e.g. two-third majority vote.


The new reality is that Spain is probably going bankrupt.


Nonsense. Most of the big companies have left Catalonia last month. Half of Catalonia population doesn't want independence. Rule of law will be restored in a few weeks and all the thugs that have promoted this idiocy will be jailed.

Edit: to the person responding, you only see what you want to see. Police acted according to judiciary orders and there were no deaths and just a handful of injured people. Try to resist police in any other civilized country and see what you get.

Edit2: did you see the idiot father charging against the police with a child in his shoulders? did you see the police reaction? or the man that knocked inconscious a policeman throwing a chair at him? or the one kicking a fallen policeman in the head without provocation? did you know that most of the charges footage are old from mossos, not spanish police, from Chile or other countries? Or the girl saying she was tortured and forgot in what arm were the fingers supposedly broken? Real injured numbers are literally a handful, even The Guardian had to admit they've been duped. Of course nothing near the 800 mentioned in propaganda.

Oh and keep downvoting, you can't downvote facts and they0re surfacing now.


Please don't break the HN guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Your comment is problematic because you crossed into incivility. Pugilistic comments on divisive topics produce conflagrations. Those are all the same on the internet and therefore they are all boring and therefore we don't want them here. Since this thread has managed to remain relatively civil despite people being on opposing sides of the issue, a comment like this does more relative damage even than it usually would. That's probably the reason for the downvotes.

The guidelines also ask people not to go on about downvoting, so please don't do that either.


The only thugs I saw were the police beating people up


Listen to yourself! So I didn’t see anyone getting beat up by the police? But if I DID see that then it was OK because they were ordered to?


> The Guardian had to admit they've been duped.

Link please?


Lots of things can be morally right but also be illegal.


Pretty much every constitution makes secession unconstitutional.


Interesting fact: the Yugoslavian Constitution did include option for federal republics to secede, but that still didn't prevent war


Look at the reverse: can the U.S. amend the constitution to say, "The U.S. is made up of the fifty states, plus Mexico"?

Certainly Mexico would hold a minority vote and not be able to influence the outcome. Does that mean that all the people of Mexico are "ignoring the constitution" if they don't want to be in the United States?


>you can't ignore the constitution because you want

Uh? Why not? This has been done countless of times in history.


If a government renders the government irrelevant they take away their own legitimation.

Sure in past that append a common term for that is "revolution" or "coup".


... and Catalan doesn't have a military position to enforce its influence.

The United States was an exception, but it was an exception borne of geographic distance and fighting against a parent already beset by its adjacent neighbors. Catalan will have no such military advantages if people try to settle this dispute via civil war.


> If they initially embraced the referendum they could have won

They could have also lost in that case. There has been a huge for-independance campaign spanning 20+ years and including indoctrination of former children that now can vote.

The last governments should not have ignored the problem, making instead an effort to provide objective information on what an independence entails. This is not something that you can level with a couple of months of "No" campaign.

My take on this is that we end up having to open a process to change the Constitution with an ensemble of unprepared politicians (on all sides of the table) that blocks the country for a couple of years (for reference, we have recently spent 18 months with a government in functions because we could not manage to vote the new president).

EDIT: It seems that some people didn't like "indoctrination". Ignore the word, my comment remains the same: education has been strongly focused on building a Catalan identity. It is not something that you level in a short term campaign. In Rajoy's shoes, this is something against his position.


The counter protests and polling indicate that there was/is significant opposition to Catalan independence. Spain could've embraced and supported that opposition, or pushed for more negotiation, but instead they used violence and oppression to try stopping the vote. That kept most of the anti-independence voters away from the polls, and it also turned many moderates toward independence. Now the Catalan government has a huge mandate and even more support to push for independence.

The Spanish government fucked up massively, and I wish the EU had more power to step in and moderate the situation.


The EU does have the power, they don't have the guts, because the governing institutions are set up to be run by spineless bureaucrats that 'know better than the citizenry'. The solution then is to procrastinate on doing anything difficult and hope it goes away like a bad dream, nobody's job is in danger anyways.


> They could have also lost in that case. There has been a huge for-independance campaign spanning 20+ years and including indoctrination of former children that now can vote.

By which you mean adults? Is indoctrination one of those irregular verbs?

* i convince * you indoctrinate * he is brainwashing


Do you have any proof about indoctrination of children beyond mere anecdote, hearsay, or accusations from unionist organizations? The indoctrination argument is an argument that just got popular recently for usage by unionists, but was almost unheard before. As far as I know, it hasn’t been validated by court on any occasion.



The first link seems to be the most solid proof that unionist parties like Ciudadanos use to ask for investigating the Catalan school system for indoctrination (An investigation I think could be done, as long as there's enough guarantees that it will be impartial and not a witchhunt). It was made by a syndicate that seems to be pretty much nonexistent (see https://www.ara.cat/societat/denuncia-ladoctrinament-llibres... ; yes, I know Ara is a biased source), and has been criticized (see http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20170518/422719728704/s...).

Of course, this is just an argument by authority; but if you look at the content, it's pretty clear that many of the supposed instances of bias are just factual reports that the report argues are instances of bias, but the way to eliminate that bias seems to be that it should be reminding the kids about the existence and goodness of Spain at every turn.

For example, end of page 17, the textbook says: "On 1700, the spanish king Charles II died without sons. Charles of Austria and Philip of Bourbon were the two candidates at the throne. The two sides fought in Succession War (1702-1714), which Philip won. Then, Philip V promulgated, as the new king, the Nueva Planta decrees (1716), which suppressed the laws and institutions of Catalonia, banned the use of catalan, and imposed the laws of Castille."

The report then goes to argue that "this presents the king of Spain as an unjust person that hates Catalonia".

End of page 15, start of 16, the textbook says: "Barcelona is the capital of both the autonomous community of Catalonia and of the province with the same name".

The report argues that "this presents Barcelona as the capital of Catalonia, as if it were the capital of a state, not as a city in a state with another capital" [when the textbook clearly says "Autonomous community of Catalonia"]

And on and on and on...

The second link fits into what I consider anecdote - a single case, that cannot be extrapolated to be evidence of a general case. See my other comment in this thread for a more elaborated response.


I agree that some arguments of the report don't hold water. But others are more convincing to me. Note that they analyze textbooks that are sold in stores, not stuff made by random teachers.

About the anecdote, a single case... there have been at least a couple dozen reported. Who knows how many were unreported. Even if they're kind of isolated, they show what kind of environment may exist in some places.

Personally I don't care, I don't have any stake on the matters. I don't like either side.


Can you place this countries in the map? Catalonia, Spain, Portugal, France, England, and Germany. Colour each one in different shades and name their capitals.

http://elmunicipio.es/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/mapa-adoctr...


That's exactly what I mean by anecdotes. It's easy to find random material that represents Catalonia in an unrealistic way relative to Spain, be it by outright manipulation by nationalist teachers, bias, or just incorrect beliefs.

What I'm asking is if there is any substantiated evidence that points to an effort by a sizable part of teachers, education departments, or the like. That's what I understand indoctrination would be. As far as I have been able to tell, there is none.


(6) is misleading; the president of PP (the party of the central government) in Catalonia has himself asked for a secret vote recently[1], hoping for defections in the pro-independence groups. Yet a few hours later he calls them cowards for having a secret vote.

[1] https://twitter.com/elsmatins/status/923815123260772357 (you'll notice it was retweeted by Albiol himself)


> indoctrination of former children that now can vote.

That's an odd way to refer to that thing parents do when raising their kids. We call it 'talking' to them.

You make it sound so sinister - almost like parents were passing on their religion or something.


Well I am referring to public schools. Public schools are controlled by the local government, and there are lots of complaints that options for parents that want teaching in Spanish for their children, for example, are close to non-existing. The teaching language is mandatorily Catalan until age 12, and then onwards chosen by the teacher, which is appointed by the local government.

If you want education that resembles what is taught in public schools of the rest of the country, you need to pay for it.


That seems reasonable enough. If you're going to live in Catelonia, then it seems right that you should learn Catalan.

How exactly is learning a language "indoctrination"? Are children indoctrinated when they're taught through Spanish?


It's not limited to that. I agree that you should be able to learn in Catalan (but have the option of Spanish too). Visit the Catalan wikipedia, and you'll see how History is changed there with respect other Wikipedias. Read their books to see the bias in the way History is told. Indoctrination is a message with a "them and us" message that polarizes society, and has successfully done so. We all know words can be used in ways that can build a way of thinking of a generation. Well, those words are in the education system.


Once again, vague accusations with no concrete examples. I'm not convinced. Sounds like you just have a bias against Catalonia.


Here you have a hint of the indoctrination: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/world/europe/spain-catalo...

“We are not even allowed to wear a bracelet to school with the Spanish flag’s colors, but you can wear one with the independence colors,” Ms. Camina said.

Ollala de Mora, 16, said: “People in school are really against Spain. Our teachers try to influence us. They say the Spain steals from us and the government is bad. If you think differently from that, they try to change your mind.”

That is indoctrination, and there are constant examples of this in daily life for decades. Only the thought of hating Spain is encourage, and less often the thought of coexistence. No wonder that things are like they are now.

And NY Times is one the biased media I see, clearing the supporting more the Catalonian side.


You can actually check my previous claims. They are not vague. Is just too extent, so if you want to dig deeper feel free to read both sides of the story, and not just what your particular media tells you.


I do have a bias against independentism/nationalism because I've lived through it. I cannot give concrete documents about this because there aren't such. Contrary to police violence of which there are. You don't have to be convinced, I'm just trying to express my opinion, not trying to convince anyone of who is better or worse here. But I can confidently assert that there are no "good and bad" in this story, just a war between two different stories with lots of falsehoods in both sides.


Should I infer from the downvote that the general consensus is that there are a good and a bad sides in this story then? I'm interested in knowing if that's the case.

I have a hard time otherwise understanding the downvote, unless is someone downvoting anything that doesn't defend the Catalonian independentist movement downright.

Sorry, there are social circumstances which are very difficult to see and document, believe it or not.


Only the other side indoctrinates, didn´t you know that!?


It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it? I pass on my values, you tell fairytales, they indoctrinate their young.


Excellent! Do you have more irregular verbs?


How about:

* I am religious, you are holier-than-thou, they are extremist fundamentalists

* I am sexually experienced, you are kinky, they are being charged under section 70 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

* I write self-documenting code, you need more comments, their code is unreadable


Hey, that sounds like the sort of thing an indoctrinated othersider would say...


Because "national pride" and "duty to fight for (economic) freedom" can be taught by your parents, schools and local culture as noble, absolute values and goals unrelated to any reason and discussion.


That's not how referendums work. Are you saying that if tomorrow you and few buddies decided to set up a new country, on a land you own, via a "referendum", the government should just go with it?


More like you and a couple millions of buddies?


Why does the number matter? Lots of people here (including the person I was replying to) talk about the "right thing" to do, not about military power. If it's the right thing to allow for millions of peoples to secede, why isn't it the right thing for me and few buddies to secede? Are we inferior in some way? Where is the cutoff? Is it ok to secede if we are 1000 people? 10K? 100K?


At exactly which number does democracy allow a group of people to secede?


A government doesn't declare things "illegal", judges are the ones that do it. According to our constitution, Spain is not divisible, plus regions can't decide something like that in a referendum because national sovereignty belongs to all Spanish citizens. I.e. regions aren't sovereign. Same as most if not all federal governments out there, by the way.


Sounds illegitimate to me.


Why would the Spanish government let the Catalans declare independence regardless of the outcome of the illegal referendum?


Because the alternative is forcible oppression and denial of the right of self-determination.

Read more about the right of self-determination here: http://www.unpo.org/article/4957


Would self-determination have argued in favor of the secession of the south?


> Would self-determination have argued in favor of the secession of the south?

Perhaps, if that is what the people in the South (and not just those in positions of relative legal privilege) wanted.

But I doubt that, for example, the 55% of Mississippi's population that was in slavery was particularly energized about secession to preserve the right of their masters to keep them in slavery, though.


That right is only for colonies or genocide, not the case of Catalonia at all. They're one of the richest spanish regions.

Edit: they've neve been independent, that's more of the bs that we're hearing these days.


I believe that's a common misconception. UN charter makes no mention of colonies Art 1.2(http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.htm...). Although a UN-charter-based document is applied to colonies, which is what you might be referring to.


There's no definition there, it's just mentioned and of course there's a complete definition elsewhere.


What is the fundamental difference between a colony and any other patch of territory?


Are you serious?


Yes, I am. While people displaced by a colony are obviously disadvantaged, the colony itself and its residents are not.


> While people displaced by a colony are obviously disadvantaged, the colony itself and its residents are not.

I think you may be confusing the pattern of colonization in British North America with colonization more generally; the pattern elsewhere was more often of subordination to an imported elite rather than displacement.


Good answer, but you’ve made me realise I made an even deeper error — I was thinking like Civilization: cities as the fundamental unit, not the productive capacity of the nearby land they control.


They can’t really claim a mandate for leaving when those who wanted to stay boycotted the vote. That said, it would have been much less divisive if a proper referendum had been sanctioned.


They have a better mandate than UK leaving the EU:

92% pro, from a 43% turnout = 39.56% of the electorate in favour of Catalan independence.

Compare to 52% of 72% = 37.44% of the electorate in favour of Brexit.


I see I have been down voted.

As someone born in Barcelona, with dual Spanish/British nationality, all I can say with certainty is that I’m deeply saddened to lose not one, but possibly now two connections to my European neighbours.


Looking at the silver lining, you gain a new citizenship, being Barcelona born. :)


Crazy. Even just expressing my own feelings on the matter is worthy of someone down voting. So very peculiar.

Someone doesn’t agree I am deeply saddened?!


These comments are breaking the site guidelines. Would you please read them and follow them when commenting here?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


There’s one seriously pathetic lone down voter out there.


Politically active get to decide. I'm not sure why expect it to be otherwise.


Those who wanted to stay would (I suspect) also believe that the referendum was illegal, as per the court order saying so.

Why bother showing up to an illegal referendum, especially when the very fact of it being illegal means no result can be trusted as accurate?


Because the referendum still took place means that some people don't care about it being illegal.

Politics affects you whether you find it "illegal" or not


I am aware many don’t care that it was illegal, I was suggesting a reason why people might care.


But people didn’t because it was not a vote recognised by their own country.


The full context for this decision includes Brexit.


I cannot imagine that it ends in a civil war. Civil wars happen when you have

1) a lot of young men,

2) who have little to lose, and

3) who are used to living a life with not much more comfort than that of a soldier (maybe even less)

The young generation in Catalonia is small, they have a lot to lose, and they live very comfortable lives.

I don't see them taking up arms. Maybe they will take to the streets for a few days, but they are not willing to fight in great numbers, or give up studies or jobs.

In the last civil war in Spain or the one in America or the ones in the Middle East, those conditions were present.


I agree, civil war is very unlikely. I think we're in for a period of unrest much more like the Irish Troubles, with organized acts of political terrorism.


Isn't political terrorism just another word for asymmetric warfare? How wouldn't that be a civil war?


Doesn’t Catalonia have a 13% unemployment rate? And a ~40% unemployment rate among young people? Seems like that fits those criteria pretty well...


There is a huge difference between the well educated but for now unemployed Catalan, 28 year old, only child (or with one or two siblings), always well fed, always warm, maybe living with his parents, maybe sharing a flat somewhere, all his life feeling safe, spending his days playing Xbox, surfing the Internet, chasing girls, hanging out on cafes or bars or going to Camp Nou to watch games, going skiing in January, to the beach in the Summer

and then your young, angry Arab man, third son in a family of 5, little education, no girls, no fun, no safety, no future.


It actually sounds like you’re describing the leadup to wwi. These conditions lead to war, not against it.

I’d love to hear a contrary opinion for the downvote I got: gross economic disparity and a large populace that has forgotten war sounds a lot like the early twentieth century.


People here downvote all the time once discussions are political. Don't bother.

What I wrote applies more to civil war than to war between nations (where citizens can be forced to war by governments). Of course, in reality the line between war between nations and internal civil war is often blurred - civil wars and wars are often mixed up and neighboring nations often support one side with money, weapons, troops etc. Furthermore realities of war can force people to take side once the conflict is ongoing, if nothing else, then to survive.

Now, with that in mind, prior to WWI you had a large generation of poor young German and Austrian men, and a large generation of poor young French, Russian, and British men. Today you don't.

Also, visit a European house or apartment from 1850-1900, which most people still lived in around WWI. One that is used as a museum so that it hasn't been renovated. You'll see that they were significantly less comfortable than today. No AC, no radiators, often no toilets (but a loo outside), usually no showers. Heat was from coal briquettes in a stove near the center of the house which meant constant draft and bad air. Cooking happened from gas, briquette or wooden fueled stove. There was no fridge or freezer but usually a small room that was cooler and where food would be stored. The house had little or no insulation, the windows had one layer of glass. There would often be electricity, but it would only be for the light bulbs. Radios or phones were still not common, hot water was still not a thing everybody had. There might be hens in the yard and milk was delivered in bottles. Most of this, except the radios and telephones, was true for 1939 as well.

Having been in the army myself, it always strikes me how much closer life before modern conveniences was to army life. Take 25 year old Hermann, a single guy from 1914, and put him in a military camp. He would not experience such a huge drop in comfort as you or I would before the fighting begun. He would eat, drink, sleep, keep warm etc. much in the same way as if he was home. He would entertain himself with books, songs etc. much in the same way. He would be surrounded by men just as he likely would at home or work or university. This was in the beginning of woman's emancipation so he would probably not miss out on a dating scene, going out with girls, male/female social life etc. For many, life meant long hours of hard manual labor in factories or farms, not less hard than the manual work in military. No vacation, no weekends (but a Sunday). His life outside of military was not that much better. Until the fighting begun, of course.

Today, joining a primitive militia/guerrilla group would mean a huge decline in quality of life of an 18 year old from Barcelona. Take 25 year old Jordi from Barcelona. He graduated as a graphical designer some months ago and spends 2 hours a day playing Counter Strike and 3 hours on his iPhone7 swiping left and right. Sometimes he looks for jobs online. He has female friends, and a dating life. He is used to walking to the metro, but otherwise doesn't get much exercise. He still lives with his parents and will likely do so for a few years more unless he gets himself together and turn that computer interest into something useful. Life has its challenges, but it sure isn't that tough. He has never killed anything he ate. He has never done much manual labor. Right now he's concerned if he will have enough money to join his friends skiing in the Pyrenees in a few months and what he's going to tell the date tonight about his job situation. He sure isn't worried about food on the table.

Might Jordi join the protest on Placa Catalunya? Yes.

Would he take up arms and hide in a forest in the low mountains west of Zaragoza waiting to ambush the approaching castellano troops? I wouldn't say never, but I just can't see it happening. Jordi loves the idea of Catalonia but he also loves his life and camping is not really for him. Plus he has a date tonight.

There is simply a greater difference between Western "working class" or middle class life and the outdoor, offline, off dating manual labor life of a soldier, than there was before.


Civil war is unlikely but it's certainly on the table. If it does end up like that, it'll probably be a "terrorist" war of attrition. Which the EU will want to have none of.


Those three points aren't valid for any of the civil wars I witnessed first hand


Could you expand on that, please?


Is this not true of the young on both sides? Is it safe to assume that the part of the Spanish military from Catalan will not side with Catalan?


Those factors make war of any kind more likely, but are not necessary for it, civil or otherwise.


> Instead of embracing a referendum about independence they decided to flatly declare it illegal

Not, this is a lie. Was not the government that declared it illegal. Were the judges of the hightest spanish tribunal, because in their opinion this is a disguised coup against constitution.

> Once they had the massive yes vote the only way out to the evil government is to surrender and negociate...

Another thousand times repeated lie. Because 2 million of votes (including X people voting n>1 times) is now the 90% of 46 million of people (including 7,5 million of catalonian people).

Lets suppose, for example, that some people would want to reinstall the slavery to Louisiana, or to bring comunism to Nebraska. "Would be good for the economy" they say. So they require to ask people for "blah blah blah democracy". Let suppose that they declare that if the referendum is positive, all black people will lose their properties and be slaves again, "because blah blah blah, pacifism". And they want you to pay this circus with your tax money, because their shamelessness is infinite.

And then some people ask that government should allow this, because voting is good.

Should the government "embrace" this spoiled children acts and let them to steal millions of dollars in their face?.

Everybody can promote a referendum to ask people their opinion about anything, but with their money, without using public buildings and resources and without shamelessly declaring that the results from the poll will trigger a chain of illegal abuses and changes for most of the people in the zone.


Not sure why you feel the need to use slavery or communist as an example here, instead of, for instance, secessionist.

Maybe you expect to elicit a sense of horror in your readers?


Well, some of the ingredients here are the comrades of the self claimed anticapitalist party Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) asking for some veeery peculiar things, (i.e. proposing to expropriate the Cathedral of Barcelona to make a market and a school of music there), and there was also a larvate (and sometimes not so larvate) racism and harassment against non indepentendist spaniards that last for years.

Taking all of this in mind and much other things, I think that can be taken as a fair example. Not equal, but much closer than you could expect.


I checked.

CUP, 8% of the votes. The other pro-independence parties mostly from the right.

There goes the communism thing, what about the slavery thing?

It seems to me that you are trying again the same trick.


Is a mix between extreme leftists and conservative elites trying to save themselves from corruption charges. Is a curious mix, I admit it.

In any case, again, was an example. Not meant to be taken literally.


larvate -> latent


Despots rarely give up without a fight. I question whether Catalans are willing to pay with their blood to gain their freedom. Clearly Rajoy is happy to shed their blood in order to keep them in thralldom.

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