The Jury Talks Back


Catalonia to Declare Independence Next Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

It appears increasingly likely that Catalonia — an autonomous community of Spain on the French border — will declare independence from Spain next week:

Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain, a regional government source said, as the European Union nation nears a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy and has unnerved financial markets.

Pro-independence parties which control the regional parliament have asked for a debate and vote on Monday on declaring independence, the source said. A declaration should follow this vote, although it is unclear when.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont earlier told the BBC that his government would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence after tallying votes from last weekend’s referendum, which Madrid says was illegal.

“This will probably finish once we get all the votes in from abroad at the end of the week and therefore we shall probably act over the weekend or early next week,” he said in remarks published on Wednesday.

On Sunday the world witnessed the disconcerting spectacle of police disrupting the independence referendum with violence, including the firing of rubber bullets. The Spanish government maintains that the election was unconstitutional, and the country’s Supreme Court agrees. But shutting down votes with violence . . . it’s a bad look.

Sarah Lee, who has written about the issue in recent days, correctly noted of Spanish officials: “their tactics, to Western eyes with a fondness for free speech and assembly, don’t look very democratic.” If the Spanish government believes the vote was unconstitutional, they could simply declare that they do not recognize it. Why use violence to prevent it?

Unfortunately, Americans often tend to see these sorts of issues through a partisan political lens. The first question conservatives will ask is: is an independence movement left-leaning or right-leaning in nature? If the former, it’s bad. If the latter, it’s good. Here, there are overtones of this being a Socialist revolution, and so many conservatives are wary. Plus, the stability of the EU in general, and our relationship with Spain in particular, counsel a rejection of the calls for independence. And so far, President Trump is predictably siding with the Spanish government on this issue.

I have a different view: if a political subset truly wants to be independent from a larger group, that should be allowed. This is true whether it’s Scotland trying to break away from the UK, or Britain exiting the EU, or California or Texas seceding from the U.S.

There are always going to be thorny issues, of course. Here in the U.S., for example, how would Nevada secede when 85% of its land is owned by the federal government? And what happens when — as in Catalonia — the population is divided about whether they want to stay part of the larger group?

But in principle, decentralization is often a good thing. It keeps representation more in tune with the populace, and prevents governments from agglomerating too much power. And in the end, governance should be about what the people want.

And so I wish Catalonians well in their quest — assuming the referendum shows that independence is truly the will of its population.

But make no mistake: things could be about to turn very ugly.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. I am conflicted on this topic. On the one hand, I’m sympathetic to a desire for self-determination. In addition, there is an argument that modern Spain has been more of a confederation than a united nation, except during Franco’s reign.

    On the other hand, I’m not convinced this is self-determination as much as tribalism. It could be a consequence of the economic and cultural divisions sowed by Franco’s populism and nationalism, and the resulting tribalism between the Basque, Catalan, rural, and Madrid regions.

    It’s difficult to know what makes a successful revolution and how to create a new nation.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/4/2017 @ 10:35 am

  2. The Catalonia movement has wisely tried to appear nonviolent but many Spaniards see the Catalonians as an extension of the Basque/ETA separatist movement, which has a history of violence and terrorism. I think this is in part why the Spanish government has been willing to use its military to suppress the Catalonians.

    The Basques and Catalonians have each been fighting for autonomy for decades. They also value their pure ethnicity, territories, and economic power. At stake for Spain is whether it will continue to be a nation of loosely bound group of states/regions. It’s not unlike what Lincoln faced.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/4/2017 @ 10:47 am

  3. Nation OR closely bound group of states/regions.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/4/2017 @ 10:48 am

  4. The political landscape suggests Catalonia is overwhelmingly favor separation, although the populace/vote is divided between various parties, including liberal progressives and conservatives. This indicates separation will be the beginning of more conflict for Catalonia. That is not a reason to oppose self-determination but it does cast doubt on how united the Catalonians actually are.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/4/2017 @ 10:56 am

  5. One of the things that is hard to grasp about this is that both the Basques and the Catalans have never felt like Spain was *theirs* — they’ve always viewed themselves as, to an extent, occuppied foreigners.

    This makes a bit more sense for the Basques, because their independent state (Navarra) was actively conquered, while as a juridical matter Spain was created when the Castilian Queen died and power was effectively taken over by her husband, the King of Aragon (because her daughter was insane and incapable of governing, or of doing anything really).

    The thing is, though, that the kids were raised in Castile, and Castilian legal and political culture ended up being paramount in the united Kingdom, even to the point that Aragonese were not allowed to trade in the New World (because it had been a Castilian possession, before the union).

    The resentment, the sense of difference and oppression, has been there to some degree or another ever since. It flares up periodically, and then gets punched down, and then comes back a generation or two later.

    Comment by aphrael — 10/4/2017 @ 11:47 am

  6. It’s also an interesting question, DRJ, in that I suspect that there would be a polling difference between “Catalans” (in the sense of “people who live in the autonomous province of Catalunya) and “Catalans” (in the sense of, people for whom Catalan is their first language).

    Comment by aphrael — 10/4/2017 @ 11:48 am

  7. I was apprised of the siege of Barcelona, in a novel by Sanchez Pujols, in 1714,

    Comment by narciso — 10/5/2017 @ 4:35 am


    Comment by narciso — 10/5/2017 @ 7:19 pm

  9. War seems to be a real possibility.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/6/2017 @ 10:14 am

  10. Its my view that the European Union is the major reason for this. The EU, by abrogating so much of its component nation’s soverignty, has destroyed the rationale for remaining part of a nation.

    Comment by SPQR — 10/6/2017 @ 1:31 pm

  11. Of course many EU states dint want to touch this a ten foot poll, they have seismic fissures like the waWaltonflemish divide or even France’s geographic schizophrenia revealed in parliamentary elections.

    Comment by narciso — 10/6/2017 @ 7:43 pm

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