Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Will Catalonia be allowed a free vote?

Catalonia declared independence over the weekend, and Spain responded by immediately suspending their regional autonomy, dissolving their government, and calling elections. Surprisingly, the Catalan political establishment seems to be going along with elections called for them by what is now supposedly a foreign country, but I guess they thought they couldn't resist, and some of them clearly like the idea of another de facto independence referendum. So the question is whether the election will be free and fair, or whether the Spanish occupation will fix the outcome.

Sadly, the signs aren't good. Key independence leaders are facing sedition and rebellion charges, with the clear intention of keeping them in jail and preventing them from standing for election. The Spanish establishment has talked openly about banning pro-independence parties. And to cap it all off, they've also said that if such parties win, they'll simply suspend autonomy again - effectively ignoring the result.

At its heart, the Catalan independence struggle is about democracy: the right of a people to determine their own rulers. Free and fair elections are at the core of that. And if Spain won't respect those, then it is no longer a civilised nation.