Friday, 22 December 2017

It's not over yet

The result of the elections in Catalunya is very similar to the result of the previous elections.  Pro-independence parties have a narrow majority of seats but a little less than 50% of the popular vote.  All other things being equal, the democratic outcome would be a government very similar to that which was deposed by the Spanish state which would lead to a return to the confrontation between the Spanish nationalists and the regional government over the status and degree of autonomy of the region.
All other things aren’t quite equal, though.  With some of those elected being currently incarcerated and others in exile (and likely to be jailed the minute they re-enter Catalonia), the Spanish nationalists may have a de facto majority – with 70 pro-independence members out of 135, it only needs a handful to be ‘unavailable to vote’ when or if the Catalan parliament is reconvened.  And unless the legal proceedings against former ministers are halted, the number of elected members imprisoned, in exile, or currently out on bail and likely to be imprisoned or disqualified at the end of those proceedings is a significant proportion of the total.
Common sense, a respect for democracy, and a desire to find a negotiated way forward would all suggest that the best approach would be for the Spanish government to ensure that all those elected to the parliament are free to take their seats and participate in discussions.  Unfortunately, none of those three characteristics immediately spring to mind when I look at the Spanish central government.  What I see are people who are determined to ‘win’ – by which I mean crush Catalan aspirations once and for all – and it’s far from certain that they won’t seek to hide behind ‘the rule of law’ and take advantage of the situation to install a government more to their liking.  In a parallel of sorts with the UK, when it comes to the question of independence, the Spanish equivalents of the Labour, Tory, and Lib Dem parties have far more in common than they like people to think.


Anonymous said...

There was no rule of law in Wales until the English arrived. And now everyone in Wales agrees it has improved life immeasurably. The same applies in Spain, throughout all of Spain.

Clearly you have differnt thoughts.

John Dixon said...


Thank you for your correction. I’m afraid that I had quite forgotten how stupid and incapable the Welsh (like the Catalans) were until those kindly English (or Castilian) kings came along and civilised us. It would have been quite impossible for an uncivilised race like the Welsh to come up with laws of their own before the English conquest, and left to our own devices, we might never have come so close to eliminating our own language, let alone taking part in the glories of Empire. How much we owe our benevolent civilisers eh?

Just in case you were labouring under some strange delusion, this blog does not run a competition for the stupidest or most ignorant comment of the year, because you've excelled yourself with this one. And I won’t be running such a competition next year either, so you might consider using your time and effort a little more more constructively. Please also remember that, on my blog, I always get the last word if I choose.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure the voting situation is quite a close as you describe, John. Whilst it is true that the parties favouring independence have only 70 out of 135 seats the Spanish nationalists only have 57. My understanding of CatComu-Podem's position is that they support the right to self determination and opposed the imposition of direct rule. I do not think the Spanish nationalists can count on Catcomu-Podem's support should they try to form some form of coalition or when it comes to any crucial vote. The Spanish nationalists will struggle to achieve a majority even in the absence of some of Catalan nationalist members.

John Dixon said...

My understanding is that around 8 of the pro-independence members are currently 'unavailable' to take their seats, either because they're in prison or because they're in exile. Another 6 are awaiting legal proceedings which could either lead to reimprisonment or disqualification - and with investigations ongoing, there's no guarantee that that latter number will not increase. Whilst the voting position between the two blocs is not that close at present, it could easily become so in coming months.

I agree with your suggestion that Catcomú-Podem's position is likely to be crucial. You say that they "support the right to self determination", but my understanding is that it's a little more nuanced than that. They support the holding of a legal referendum in which Catalans can decide to become independent if they wish, but their own position in that referendum would be to oppose independence.

Unknown said...

Hywel Dda??? My god the ignorance of this cretin (anon 24-12-17) is astounding.