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Catalonia open thread

by fjallstrom Fri Sep 29th, 2017 at 12:29:37 PM EST

In the absence of a thread from someone more knowledgeable about Spain, an open thread to collect links and impressions.

First out, Eurointelligence from this morning:

Things are coming to a head in Catalonia

The Spanish government has disrupted the Catalan referendum, but is likely not to be able to stop millions of Catalans from casting votes anyway despite a massive police deployment;

this undermines the authority of the state and still leaves the initiative with the Catalan regional government and parliament, which will decide on Tuesday whether to declare independence;

Víctor Lapuente argues that the credibility of a democratic state depends on the predictablity of its enforcement actions, which has been absent in Spain, while Guillem Martínez writes that "Leviathan" and "midget Leviathan" are both unpredictable and so unsettling;

Andrés Boix i Palop reviews in Verfassungsblog the increasingly widespread opinion among Spanish legal experts that the Spanish government is violating the constitution in order to protect it;

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Add your links and discussion.

re: "the Spanish government is violating the constitution in order to protect it"

As it happens, Counterpunch published this morning an essay that accomplishes two tasks, (1) furnish Spain's legacy in Catalunya; and (2) refute the ambivalent intentions of Spain's constitutional letter.

Whatever post-Franco party has been in power, Madrid has always done everything possible to suppress Catalonia's attempts to claim the right to self-determination but, this time, as October 1 looms, the response against a peaceful citizen movement has been much rougher than anyone imagined, including measures like police and Guardia Civil ships in the harbor, water-cannon trucks roaring along the highways, helicopters clattering overhead, taking control of Catalan finances, raiding the offices of the government's IT center, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Catalan government offices, detaining fourteen officials, impounding close to ten million ballot papers (so activists took printers into the streets to make off new ones), shutting down websites about the election (swiftly restored with mirror sites), and placing the Catalan police (Mossos) under the command of a colonel from the Guardia Civil (who, from a long lineage of Franco supporters, was charged with torture in 1992).

"The Rule of Law Such As Ours" (And as Imposed in Catalonia)

Article 155 was damningly described by Pedro Cruz Villalón, none other than a former President of the Constitutional Court of Spain, as the most aggressive and unfortunate exponent of a conception of state unity which is latent in Article 2 as something preexisting, prior to and, accordingly, superior to the Constitution itself as well as the whole legal system. This absurd situation of a constitution that annuls itself in the name of the unity it hallows signals serious legal problems which, affecting Spain as a whole, date back to the "Transition" (from the Franco regime). This was actually a non-transition, or continuity dressed up as a formal, legal break with the past, and aiming to restore the monarchy and leave the hegemony of the dominant social group unscathed.

For my part I think, Orwell's and Chomsky's authority over English-speakers' image of Catalan revolution within Spanish Civil War of the '30s finally hit its nadir. I note with interest that Podemos is not mentioned here with Cuidados. It is as if for the authors political groups' dominion were indeed redundant and dissolved in unity of the bourgeois and "proletariat" sentiments since Colau's election. We shall see. We shall see how far civil disobedience can carry their cause.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 29th, 2017 at 05:30:49 PM EST
Verfassungsblog: The Catalunya Conundrum, Part 3: Protecting the Constitution by Violating the Constitution by Andrés Boix Palop (27 September 2017)
Article 155 CE, if activated, would have offered to the Spanish government a legal tool to take control of Catalan institutions on the terms decided by the Senate after a public debate. Article 116 CE, if activated after a debate in Congress in a situation of violence that could create a risk for public services or a sufficiently serious threat to public order, is to be used in order to limit fundamental rights, invoking a state of emergency.

Lacking legitimacy in Catalonia because of the absence of solutions to Catalan democratic claims within the Spanish legal framework, the position of Spanish institutions is badly weakened. Therefore, they do not to want to take the risk of creating even more political unrest in Catalonia with public and explicit debates on the suspension of autonomy or on the necessity of limiting fundamental rights. Instead, Spanish government is pushing other institutions, such as the Constitutional Court, prosecutors, police and judges, as well as their own executive powers, beyond their ordinary limits.

There is already an increasing list of abnormal situations that are creating deep concern among some Spanish legal scholars and civil servants and getting more and more attention among European media and European Union institutions. The logic followed in all these cases is the same: The Spanish government wants something to be done that could have been easily obtained throughout arts. 155 CE or 116 CE but do not want to pay the political costs of doing it openly and with public debate and democratic control. Therefore, Spanish authorities go ahead using alternative ways to achieve their goals, at the cost of distorting some procedures or institutions or posing fundamental rights at risk. Here is a provisional quick list of some of the most blatant examples:

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 12:29:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mig ... just saw a piece on Catalonia on today's (Monday's) Democracy Now ... thought of you ... GREETINGS!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 02:54:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain's constitutional court: Power beyond legal practice
Before 2015, the CC was not a Court of Justice. However, through the Organic Law 15/2015 of 16 October 2015, it was reformed to receive new powers with which to enforce its decisions, forcing judges, courts and public administrations to act with urgency if the court asked.

This was not only met with criticism by judges of the court, but also by many external jurists and the Venice Commission which strongly criticised giving the CC the task to execute its own judgments, usually attributed to other state powers.

In consideration of EU concern about Poland's and Hungary's constitutional violations, the EC mandate increasingly appears weak and petty.
Europe Can't Remain Silent Over The Catalan Crisis
Europe's silence on Catalonia risks EU credibility
The European Commission refuses to answer
Mayor of Barcelona calls for EU to mediate in Catalonia

"It is my obligation as mayor... to call on the European Commission to open a space for mediation between the Spanish and Catalan governments to find a negotiated and democratic solution," she wrote.

Barcelona "does not want a collision with unforeseen consequences. I am convinced most of our European partners do not want that either," she said.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Sep 29th, 2017 at 08:55:56 PM EST
Calls for the EU Commission to intervene in the internal affairs of it's member states ignore the very important point that the EU is primarily a Union of 28 member states and not of regional or other entities. Spain is a member.  Catalonia is only part of the EU by virtue of it's incorporation into Spain. If Catalonia (or Scotland) were to achieve independence they would still have to apply for membership in their own right.

The EU has indicated they would have no problem with Catonia (or Scotland) becoming part of the EU in their own right provided they had achieved independence by legal means. The EU cannot be seen to be furthering the disintegration of their own members. It must respect their domestic political arrangements.

That is not to say that member states don't have Treaty obligations, enforcible through ECJ rulings, to observe democratic norms and recent infringements of those norms in Poland and Hungary deserve a more robust EU response.

But we are in unproven territory here, as those democratic norms are poorly defined and as yet untested by any enforcement proceedings. The EU expanded it's membership to include former dictatorships like Spain, Portugal and Greece and former members of the Warsaw Pact partly as a means to reinforce the development of democratic norms and institutions in those countries.

It is an open question the degree to which the EU could and would respond if any member state reverted to fascism or communism. However refusing to grant independence to a regional entity hardly qualifies for such intervention. The EU Commission/ECJ could intercede if invited by both parties to do so, or intervene if there were gross violations of human rights by Spanish authorities in Catalonia, but the mechanisms for doing so - other than ECJ findings in individual cases - are unclear to me.

Perhaps those with greater knowledge of EU Treaties could comment on this.

The question is also particularly relevant to N. Ireland. Under the Good Friday agreement all citizens there are entitled to either or both British or Irish (and therefore European) citizenship.  What happens if the UK violates their European Citizenship rights post Brexit?

It is important to note, in this context, that they have the right to fully express and exercise their rights as Irish (and EU) Citizens within Northern Ireland, and not simply as ex-pats livings in a foreign state who could be expecting to adapt to local (UK) norms. They are by definition not expats but residents fully entitled to vindicate their EU citizenship rights within N. Ireland. Could they appeal to the ECJ if unhappy with a local court ruling? Could the Irish Government act on their behalf?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 11:40:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"(and EU)" exactly: Conceptualizations of a political union of the member-states --not merely an assemblage of mutual yet competing interests in marketing among the so-called sovereign member-states-- instituted in one supranational authority is emerging through popular praxis. A question remains whether or not this evolution will be settled by civil war (again).

I hasten to add, I do not anticipate witnessing such an adversity at any time in my life. The "federalists" of Europe have proven themselves (in spite of compulsion to expand, or acquire NEW! territories ) to be more shrewd than their antecedents in selection of battles with "the people".

archived: Articles of Confederation

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 02:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Junker, Rajoy hold phone conversation over Catalonia
According to the Spanish media, Junker and Rajoy held a telephone conversation in which Junker expressed his support for constitutional order in Spain following the independence referendum held in the Catalan region of Northeast Spain on Sunday.
Rajoy Monday also held meetings with Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party and Albert Rivera, the leader of center-right party Ciudadanos to discuss possible future action and government response to the crisis.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 06:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Statement on the events in Catalonia, Brussels, 2 October 2017
Under the Spanish Constitution, yesterday's vote in Catalonia was not legal. For the European Commission, as President Juncker has reiterated repeatedly, this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain....

Sovereignty of the member-states prevails.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 06:31:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The question every citizen of Serbia has for the European Union today is: How come that in the case of Catalonia the referendum on independence is not valid, while in the case of Kosovo secession is allowed even without a referendum," B92 quoted Vucic as saying during a news conference.

"How did you proclaim the secession of Kosovo to be legal, even without a referendum, and how did 22 European Union countries legalize this secession, while destroying European law and the foundations of European law, on which the European policy and EU policy are based?"

No, I don't expect Juncker to answer.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 07:24:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Because shut up," he kindly explained.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 07:33:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A good point; let's hope Catalonia doesn't descent into civil war and ethnic cleansing like it happened in Kosovo 18 years ago.
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 08:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 at 01:58:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Against NATO. Which has a significant overlap with the EU.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 at 06:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Catalan referendum: Barcelona braces for confrontation ahead of banned independence vote

Barcelona, one of Europe's biggest tourist destinations, is starting to resemble a war zone.

Thousands of national police have been moved into the city to stop regional authorities holding an independence referendum on Sunday.

On Thursday, students and other activists began staging protests and sit-ins to defend what they see as their right to vote. The city is bracing for what could be the worst civil confrontation since democracy was restored in the 1980s.

by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 08:19:48 AM EST
Live update from The Guardian.

Despite several reports of polling stations being closed down by Spanish police across Catalonia, the Guardian's Sam Jones says hundreds of people are still queuing up to vote at Cervantes primary school and Escuela Mireia in Barcelona.

People waiting in line to vote are cheering those who have already managed to do so.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 08:51:21 AM EST
Guardian reports of police firing. No report of people being shot.
by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 09:47:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, 38 are reported injured. Not necessarily from guns.
by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 11:12:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
VOA/NPR radio reportage sounds like it will stick with the "unconstitutional" Catalan ballot, illustrated with clashes between policia, voters, and innocent (especially elderly) voters.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 02:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
El Pais also has a live-blog in English

Voting has started. Guardia Civil is seizing ballot boxes. There has been some scuffles but nothing major so far.

by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 08:55:25 AM EST
The El Pais live blog has an interesting subtitle: Follow updates as they happen on the illegal October 1 vote in the northeastern region
(which is technically correct, of course)
by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 09:09:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are they so scared of Catalonia they can't even utter it's name?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 09:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
re: audience

El Pais versions news. I noticed this in printed news long ago, when visiting Barcelona, before the "internet of things." More to the point, because I can read Spanish (not fluently, but), I've been comparing online editions for several years --notwithstanding general complaints about El Pais' "bourgeois" mentality. The difference between Spanish and English reportage is not translation, it's editorial story selection.

The English-language edition writes to stereotyped Anglo-american interests in tourism, RE, celebrity, sport, maybe US inconveniences in central and south America, or disinterest in Spain's domestic political landscape. Really. For example, it barely covered the collapse of the banking industry, royal family indictments, PP corruption. For that one had to connect with the Spanish edition, where PROBED in excrutiatng detail.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 03:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, their editorial slant is anti-referendum from what I can tell. But I think this live reporting should have limited room for editorializing.
by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 09:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All reporting on this referendum is editorialised. For and against.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 12:22:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
337 wounded according to Catalan authorities.

Spanish interior ministry has posted a video of stone throwers and another of children with the demonstrators, calling it irresponsible to bring children. Essentially setting up the "violent demonstrators made us shoot them narrative".

Narrative from the Spanish government appears to be blaming the Catalan PM. Catalan government blames Spanish government and demands that the Spanish PM steps down. Both uses Franco as comparison for the opposing side.

Podemos has condemned the violence, PSOE has conveyed their unhappiness.

by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 01:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish police confiscated urns and ballots in several polling places; this one in Sant Carles de la Rápita.
by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 09:05:01 AM EST
Mossos appears to be largely working according to how they interpret the judicial orders. In practise avoiding interference with both the referendum and the national police forces.

Guardia Civil posted this clip of Mossos and Guardia Civil arguing (I think).

by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 02:28:15 PM EST
And now both sides claims victory. Spain for preventing the referendum, Catalonia for "the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic".

I guess the crisis will continue tomorrow. The Spanish government has done much today to strengthen separatism, as the momentum for separatism tends to a large extent rest on the present state being intolerable. Sending in police to bludgeon people and carry away ballot boxes should add to that feeling.

by fjallstrom on Sun Oct 1st, 2017 at 09:58:42 PM EST
In the meantime at Nou Camp stadium on this historic date ...

Las Palmas condemns Sunday's Catalan referendum, will wear a Spanish flag on their jerseys in the football match against Barcelona.


Match was played without fans, Fc Barcelona won 3-0.

[Still a few days in this oasis of heat, inequality and lack of democracy ... a state of wealth existing by grace of Allah, and migrant workers paid by pure capitalistic principles]

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 09:10:58 AM EST

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 at 03:36:23 PM EST
In his home at Madrid, dead Franco waits dreaming.
by rifek on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 at 07:06:11 PM EST
Which brings up the question, just what is the support for Franco these days?  Active support seems limited but if the crisis continues?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 at 07:19:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When The Economist begins to type sense, one really knows how far off Rajoy actually is.

It is not too late to stop the break-up of Spain

WHEN a democracy sends riot police to beat old ladies over the head with batons and stop them voting, something has gone badly wrong. Catalans say that almost 900 people were hurt by police in the referendum for independence on October 1st. Whatever the provocation from Catalan leaders in staging an unconstitutional poll, the reaction of Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, has thrown Spain into its worst constitutional crisis since an attempted coup in 1981.


Will Mr Puigdemont declare independence? That would be reckless and irresponsible but, if he does, Mr Rajoy should resist the temptation to arrest Catalan leaders and, for the time being, avoid using his power to suspend regional rule. Just now, either measure would only compound his mistakes.

Only a negotiation can restore calm and it should start immediately. Even now most Catalans can probably still be won over with the offer of greater autonomy, including the power to raise and keep more of their own taxes, more protection for the Catalan language and some kind of recognition of the Catalans as a "nation". Mr Rajoy might even take up the opposition Socialists' idea of turning Spain into a federal state.

Any settlement, though, must include the option of a referendum on independence. Separation would be a wrenching change for Catalonia and the rest of Spain, so should not be done lightly. A majority of Catalans eligible to vote should be the minimum threshold for independence. A follow-up vote on the terms of a separation might be wise, too.

by Bjinse on Thu Oct 5th, 2017 at 07:37:18 PM EST
seems a novel turn of phrase until compared with 'principality', likewise suzrainties, duchies, kingdoms through the ages. The territory known as Italy probably set the record per each per km2 ~420 CE. Then there's the US state of Georgia's "counties." BTDT. The barrier to dread monarchy a/k/a tyranny is not geographical area. It is conceptualization and praxis of a republican polity, firstly, how pple identify with "citizenship" and whether ppl accept delegation of democratic "principles" instituted in oligarchy. The extent to which arbitrary ("unelected") rule and rules ("laws") prevails over citizenship in any locality seems to me to recur in every dispute of exclusive authority to which ppl will submit "autonomy," or "empowerment".

Can an `EU of the regions' offer an alternative to Catalan secession?

It is enshrined in the principle of 'subsidiarity': that decisions should be made at the level - European, national, or regional - that is closest to citizens while still being effective. It was codified in 1985 and inserted into the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

To this end, the EU's Committee of the Regions was created in 1994. Given that 70% of EU legislation needs to be implemented at the regional level, it was meant to give regional governments a greater voice in EU policy-making.

"The principle of subsidiarity is in the treaties, and if it's to be taken seriously, decision-making should take place at the level of governance which is closest to the citizen," said Michael O'Conchuir of the European Alliance group of regionalist-minded members of the committee.

So there's that homage to history.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 9th, 2017 at 05:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are two essays. The first "goes to," as the attys say, construction of EU policy titled "Europe of the Regions" and comparisons of revolt by "subsidiaries." You will find familiar subject matter therein, not least of which suspicious red tag of the author's name.

Catalonia: The Revolt of the Rich?

The second is a forlorn memoir which resurrects personae dramatis in England's war of borders against the Scots.
Buried History: the Legacy of Kett's Rebellion

Happy Black History D284 Y2

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Oct 11th, 2017 at 02:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thousands protest in Barcelona against Catalan independence
"We feel both Catalan and Spanish," Araceli Ponze, 72, said during Sunday's rally. "We are facing a tremendous unknown. We will see what happens this week but we have to speak out very loudly so they know what we want."

Puigdemont will address the Catalan parliament at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday on "the current political situation" amid speculation he could ask the assembly to declare independence.

Rally for Art. 155
Sunday's demonstration in Barcelona was organised by the anti-independence group Catalan Civil Society to mobilise what it believes is a "silent majority" that opposes independence.

"The people who have come to demonstrate don't feel Catalan so much as Spanish," said 40-year-old engineer Raul Briones, wearing a Spanish national soccer team shirt. "We like how things have been up until now and want to go on like this."

Reportage over the past week is developing a profile of businesses within the "silent majority" on which Cataluyna's prosperity purportedly rely.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 9th, 2017 at 01:48:28 PM EST
Do you believe that a majority of the population of Catalonia is in favour of independence?
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Oct 9th, 2017 at 06:40:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no idea. In the first instance, the poll was spoiled by the gov't of Spain in more ways than one, not least of which duress in exercising the franchise. In the second, my dated impression is, over all the culture is bourgeois, inert, not predisposed to radical politics; that impression is unreliable.

If I were monarch, I would err on the side of majoritarian principle of "democracy", 50 +1% of 50+1% eligible voter turnout. Amen. Until further notice, as Zigmunt Baumann would say.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 9th, 2017 at 07:02:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Catalan leaders sign independence declaration but put it on hold

Spain threatens to suspend Catalonia's autonomy in crisis
The leader of the opposition Socialist Party, Pedro Sanchez, said meanwhile that his side and the government had agreed to study a possible constitutional reform to try to end the crisis. The debate would focus on "how Catalonia remains in Spain, and not how it leaves," Sanchez told reporters.

Yes, that anarcho-syndicalist paradigm has hit its nadir.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Oct 11th, 2017 at 07:26:27 PM EST
I give up, I really do.

Independence as performance art

In fact, some people were not just dumbfounded but outright angry, and sometimes offended. I think it was especially legal and political experts, and those laymen of a more formal disposition, that were more likely to be angry or offended, and this provides a clue as to what happened last night. What was supposed to take place on a legal plane had taken place on a symbolic plane.

When there is a clash of incompatible conceptual frames, there are at least two possible responses. One is humour, and the other is frustration. As it seems impossible to believe that what happened in the Catalan parliament last night was an elaborate prank, frustration - leading to anger - is a natural response.


This all makes last night's events at the Catalan parliament very much like an instance of performance art. In the 19th century the effect the Catalan separatists had last night used to be called épater le bourgeois. Today we call it trolling

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 12th, 2017 at 07:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kiss of Death. And I think many of us know Chomsky's opinion of post-modernist expression. ahem.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Oct 12th, 2017 at 08:25:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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