Thursday, September 07, 2017

Catalonia will vote

The Catalan Parliament has voted to hold an independence referendum:

The Spanish government has accused the Catalan parliament of committing a “constitutional and democratic atrocity” by approving legislation to allow next month’s bitterly disputed independence referendum to go ahead.

On Wednesday night, the region’s ruling, pro-sovereignty coalition – which has a majority in the Catalan parliament – managed to get the referendum law passed despite angry objections from opposition MPs, who complained that usual parliamentary procedures had been disregarded.

The legislation passed by 72 votes after 52 opposition MPs walked out of the chamber in Barcelona in protest at the end of an ill-tempered, 11-hour session.

The move was denounced by the Spanish government, which once again said it would do everything in its legal and political power to stop the vote from going ahead on 1 October.

Everything? What's that going to mean? Arresting the entire Catalan government? Jailing people who speak out for independence? Suppressing Catalan language and culture? Using the army to keep Catalonia in Spain by force? And what does it think any of that that will do to support for independence?

Spain's position simply isn't tenable. In a modern democracy, the only legitimate response to a region which wants to leave is to let them vote on it and arrange a tidy separation if required. Anything less is simply a gross denial of democratic rights which invites violent rather than legal means of separation.