Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Signed and suspended

Last weekend Catalans chose democracy over fascism, marching to the ballot boxes to vote for independence in the face of Spanish truncheons and rubber bullets. While Spanish violence succeeded in keeping the turnout to only 43% (55% if the ballots they stole are considered), support for an independent republic was so overwhelming that it would have been a majority even at the turnout levels of a normal Catalan election.

Since then, Spain has upped its campaign of violence, threatening to suspend Catalonia's regional autonomy and torture and murder its president (just as they did to one of his predecessors). Meanwhile, actual fascists have been marching in Spain's streets demanding Catalonia be suppressed. Calls by the international community for the Spanish government to sit down and negotiate a peaceful and democratic way forward have been ignored.

Today, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont finally addressed the Catalan parliament. As expected, he declared independence - and also called for the declaration to be suspended for a few weeks to allow time for negotiations. Its a reasonable approach: the referendum (and previous elections) provide a clear mandate, but the situation needs to be de-escalated. The EU seems to finally be getting involved, and this gives them time to convince Spain to accept reality: that these issues must be resolved democraticly, as in Scotland, and that if Spanish law prevents that, it is Spanish law which needs to change. The question is whether the Spanish government will recognise that, or whether it thinks Catalans will love them if they are beaten harder.