Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A democracy does not do this

Spain has ordered police to blockade polling places to prevent Catalonia from voting on independence:

Police will be deployed at polling stations to prevent people from voting in the Catalan independence referendum, the Spanish government has confirmed.

Although the Catalonia regional government has insisted the unilateral poll will go ahead on Sunday, the Spanish government has vowed to stop the vote, which it says is a clear violation of the constitution. Spain’s constitutional court has suspended the legislation underpinning the referendum while it rules on its legality.

A spokesman for the Spanish government’s Catalan delegation said on Tuesday that the region’s prosecutor had ordered the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s police force, to take control of polling booths and identify those in charge.

“The order has been conveyed and it will be executed with all normality,” he said.

The Spanish government has already seized the ballot papers, so the point may be rather moot. At the same time, its a democratic outrage. This is not how democracies behave. Instead, it seems like Spain is regressing back to its days of fascism and cultural suppression (not helped by the fact that its current government are the unapologetic heirs of Franco).

But as well as being outrageous, it is hugely counter-productive. 70% of Catalans support a referendum. That number is likely to increase. And faced with this sort of oppression, support for independence is likely to increase as well. If Spain wants to radicalise the Catalan population and drive them towards unilateral secession, they couldn't have picked a better strategy for doing so.