I only saw the ocelot smile once, the day it escaped
September 23, 2017 3:28 AM   Subscribe

The foundation that administers the .cat domain for Catalonians just got raided by the Spanish police, but all the media wants to talk about is cats. The office was raided because Catalonia hopes to hold a referendum on October 1 to decide if it should secede from Spain, and in an effort to quash the referendum, the government of Spain ordered puntCat to “block all .cat domain names that may contain any kind of information about the forthcoming independence referendum,” according to a press release from the foundation.
posted by Sys Rq (128 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Less than half of Catalans want independence but the response of the Spanish government to the upcoming referendum has been unbelievably heavy handed - raiding regional government buildings, arresting politicians, confiscating ballots, and deploying thousands of paramilitary police. This could end up being a massive PR own goal. Unlike Basque separatism, where ETA waged a decades-long campaign of bombings and assassinations, there's no history of political violence associated with the Catalan independence movement.

Regional identity was suppressed during the Franco dictatorship, when the use of the Catalan language was banned in schools and public buildings, and it was illegal to give a child a Catalan name (famously challenged by Johan Cruyff who brought his wife back to Holland to give birth so they could put Jordi on the birth certificate). During these years Barcelona FC became a beacon of Catalan identity with its slogan "Més que un club" ("More than a club") and its matches with its rival Real Madrid became political proxy battles, with Barcelona players allegedly being threatened by secret police on occasion before games. The club have come out in favour of the referendum, although it's far from certain whether teams from an independent Catalonia would be allowed to play in La Liga, and playing in a small league could spell the end of them as a major footballing power (see Ajax, Benfica, Celtic). The city's second team, Espanyol, are anti-independence, as you might guess by their name.

Catalonia is the richest area of Spain, and since the financial crisis, which Spain is nowhere near recovering from, with youth unemployment hovering just under 40%, there has been resentment that they're subsidising what to many feels like a foreign country. As became clear during the Scotland referendum, an independent Catalunya would have to reapply for EU membership, which Spain would almost certainly veto.
posted by kersplunk at 4:11 AM on September 23, 2017 [42 favorites]

Well, let's just hope this does not become a small war.
posted by Laotic at 4:48 AM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

The EFF also has a statement against the domain name action. "domain name intermediaries should not be held responsible for the content of websites that utilize their domains"
posted by Nelson at 5:15 AM on September 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Setting aside the politics and felines for a moment, .cat is going to be a kind of low-grade infrastructure misery if Catalonia gains independence. All national TLDs (top-level domains) are two-letters, based on ISO standard country codes. Official websites for an independent Catalonia will be expected to move from .cat to whatever new TLD is assigned, which cannot be c followed by any other letter in "Catalonia", "Catalunya", or "Catalonha": .ca is Canada, .ct is Canton and Enderbury Islands, .cl is Chile, .co is Colombia, .cn is China, .ci is Ivory Coast, .cu is Cuba, .cy is Cyprus, .ch is Switzerland.
posted by ardgedee at 7:26 AM on September 23, 2017 [13 favorites]

Okay, correcting what I just said... .ct is a deleted code and can be reassigned. So that's likely what Catalonia would want.
posted by ardgedee at 7:30 AM on September 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

In a normal year, the situation in Catalonia - especially the response of the central government - would be one of the biggest news stories of the year. In a normal year, it would seem crazy and ridiculous.

All of the stuff that has happened deserves a megapost of its own.
posted by clawsoon at 7:34 AM on September 23, 2017 [14 favorites]

It does deserve a post (and unfortunately I am not the one to make that happen). The federal response here is really ugly but not surprising. I am not a Spanish speaker, so I am gleaning what information I can, but I don't feel I'm doing very well.
posted by Golem XIV at 7:45 AM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

As fate would have it, I'm just about to depart to Madrid and then Catalonia and will be around there during next weekend. This is going to be interesting, to say the least...
posted by BuxtonTheRed at 8:30 AM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oohh, I hesitate to get into this debate but here goes...
Some context - Barcelona has been my home base for almost 15 years, I speak fluent spanish and can read and understand catalan - newspapers for example, and TV news. I am a native english speaker.
A lot of the coverage I see from outside of Spain casts this as a struggle of poor, oppressed Catalans against the right wing Madrid government. Catalonia (or Catalunya...pick one) is one of, if not the, richest region of Spain (it depends how you measure it and who is doing the measuring). They (and when I say "they", I mean the less (probably) than 50% of the region that wants independence) feel that they pay more to the central government in Madrid than they get back, and that they are oppressed in some way by being part of Spain.
Fair enough, people are allowed to think and feel whatever they like, right or wrong. The Catalan politicians who are in favour of independence keep drilling on those two points over and over again.
Does Catalunya (or Catalonia) pay more to Madrid than they get back? Probably. Some regions of a country always will. They (see above) feel that this is not fair as the people getting the extra money are not Catalan. Other people see themselves as Spanish first and Catalan second, and as good spaniards, or socialists, or whatever, feel like they should contribute to the well being of others who are having a harder time getting over the crisis, or are historically disadvantaged, or who got ripped off even more by their leaders than everyone else in Spain did (and does).
Which side is right? That's not for me to decide although I'll side with universalism over nationalism any day.
What english speakers should not believe is that this is about ushering in a left wing government, or policies, or anything remotely like that. The Catalonian government is run by a coalition with widely varying beliefs that won a minority of the vote and are unified only by being independentists, but who trend right much more so than left, and in many cases even further right than Rajoy in Madrid. As a side note, many many people who are against independence find Rajoy to be despicable.
The Catalan government here goes out of the way to paint anyone who does not support independence to be either a direct descendent of Franco or some kind of secret, Catalan hating fascist. The level of hate in their rhetoric is astonishing to me. Business leaders have been threatened, people are afraid to make their views known.
Now, the problem. Most people I know here, and most polls agree, that a majority of Catalans, pro independence and pro unity, are in favour of a referendum. The spanish constitution, passed in 1978 and overwhelmingly approved by Catalunya, makes this illegal. This is a clear fact. Whether this is wise is another debate (I believe that all people should have the right to self determination, but I don't know of any European constitution that allows for regions to unilaterally secede - please show me examples if I am wrong). So Madrid is constitutionally bound to prevent this referendum from happening. Have they been pig headed and heavy handed? Absolutely! Are they driving more people to the independence side? Probably? Are they in the wrong? According to the constitution, no.
The independence movement here claims that they are on the side of democracy. I believe that the democratic way of achieving their goals is to convince enough people to change the constitution to allow the referendum. Hard? Yes, but possible, and it's hard by design because these types of things should be hard. The local government is pledging to declare independence if they win by one vote regardless of turnout. But many pro unity people I know refuse to vote because in their eyes it's an illegal referendum. Democratic?
As for oppression of catalans, I personally don't see it. We have here great control locally of how tax money is spent, the catalan language is officially promoted over spanish (is there any other part of europe where it is impossible and illegal to send your children to a public school in the national language?). No one is saying that catalans can't celebrate their holidays or traditions or wear their national dress or...anything. Where is the oppression?
Finally, Catalunya is a relatively large and diverse place. Most polls show that the regions outside the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona are most strongly pro independence and that the more urban areas are pro unity. Guess which region's taxes subsidize the others?
I don't want to get into an argument about this, it's an upsetting issue that's incredibly complicated and that has very deep and sincerely held views on both sides. But please remember, the last time Europe got in a tizzy about nationalism, a few hundred million people died.
posted by conifer at 8:51 AM on September 23, 2017 [37 favorites]

I really don't see how the heavy handedness would help their cause other than create a deeper resentment that may turn into something ugly over time. I think Catalonia has a lot of republicans who were on the fence about independence and would prefer the whole country turned into a federal republic rather than go independent. Last I've heard, because of what happened this week, the opinion seems to be shifting towards both goals being the same: the monarchy will certainly not fall as long as the country stands as one.
On the bigger picture, making political arrests in a UE country in 2017 should not fly, but everyone will be too busy playing three-dimensional chess to make an official condemnation. At least in here almost everyone is still dancing around the subject because it's not like we can say anything about a coastal region of the iberian peninsula with a distinct culture from Castilla telling them to bugger off.

(also, this post taking so long to appear is why I think MeFi should have a "tell me about..." section, sort of half-way between Ask and Jobs when someone wants a detailed post on the blue about something by someone who can do a decent job with it)
posted by lmfsilva at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

There's been very little coverage of this in the mainstream media in the UK. There's speculation among the Scottish Independence parts of the web that this may be more than slightly deliberate
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:04 AM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this post, I live in Spain but have been paying 0% attention to the news because I'm working 16-hour days at the moment. I wish I could find out about Spanish news on Metafilter the way I find out about US news.

I can't speak to the Catalan side of the question, but my impression from talking to the Spaniards I know in Madrid is that they think of the Spanish constitution (and, by extension, the unity of Spain) as something sacred, something that was longed for during the long years of the dictatorship, and it's unthinkable to break it. It means so much to them in a real, visceral way, and they feel like unity of purpose and identity is what stands between them and a return to the past. The democracy is still so new and so fragile. Not to say that Catalans can't identify as Catalans, but the civil war pitted neighbors against neighbors and families against families and to pit Catalans against Spaniards feels like a divorce between two sides of the same family.

This has nothing to do with what you see in the news, though, which is mostly politicians against politicians. Me, I think there should be an official referendum and we should all agree to abide by the results, whether we like them or not. I also just like the idea of anything that makes Rajoy really angry.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2017 [9 favorites]

conifer: We have here great control locally of how tax money is spent, the catalan language is officially promoted over spanish... Finally, Catalunya is a relatively large and diverse place. Most polls show that the regions outside the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona are most strongly pro independence and that the more urban areas are pro unity.

This reminds me of the 1995 sovereignty referendum in Quebec. It's not the same situation, obviously, but there are some parallels: A language difference with the rest of the country codified in law, something of an urban-rural divide in support for independence within the province, and the Supreme Court stepping in to say that unilateral secession would be illegal. The big difference is the response of the central government. In our case, the federal government erred on the side of doing nothing to about the same degree that the Spanish government is erring on the side of doing too much. (Canadian government response: After the independence vote narrowly lost, the feds set up an ad agency to sponsor hunting and fishing events to promote Canada within Quebec.)
posted by clawsoon at 10:53 AM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

The twitter tag #DefenderLaDemocracia has photos and videos of some of the protests happening. For example, here's a video of two nights ago when "yes" voters came out onto their balconies at 10pm and beat saucepans with wooden spoons for about 20 minutes.
posted by mosessis at 11:37 AM on September 23, 2017

I find it odd that so many on the left wing support this when the case for Catalan independence is predicated on: "screw-you-I'm-rich" greediness and some weird cultural chauvinism. Catalonia has a very broad amount of autonomy and the central government does not oppress Catalan culture (barring this wild overreach). Independence from Spain would not unite all Catalan-speakers (there are many in France and a small handful in Italy) and is based upon some backwards notion that being a Spaniard is the same as being an ethno-linguistic member of the Castilian people—tell that to my friend from the Canaries who has dark skin, speaks with her unique accent, and is just as Spanish as anyone from Navarre or Barcelona or Ceuta. Catalan nationalists are reifying and imposing this absurd idea which does not exist amongst other Spaniards and then insisting that since "Spaniards" are this one people group that Catalans don't belong to, they need independence. It's cruel and trying to make up some racist tension that doesn't have to exist.
posted by koavf at 12:05 PM on September 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

kersplunk: Less than half of Catalans want independence but the response of the Spanish government to the upcoming referendum has been unbelievably heavy handed

The conservative PP party has never had any chance to get elected in Catalonia, but a tough stance on those independentists will give them plenty of votes in the rest of the country and so a chance to keep governing Spain. Independentist Catalan parties have obviously no need to care about what the rest of the country thinks of them so a tough stance on independentism will give them plenty of votes in Catalonia.

Both sides have little to lose with empty macho posturing and little need to start actually dialoguing. I personally think that a (well-organised, lawful) referendum is eventually needed, but independentist parties also know that less that 50% of Catalonians actually want independence (last figure I saw was 37%) so being eternally thwarted by those dastardly Spaniards and *not having to face an actual referendum* is actually the best end game for them.

Not that losing a referendum will shut them up, either. They can keep asking for another forever because #espanyaensroba.

tl;dr: I'm so fed up with all this guys.

lollymccatburglar: I can't speak to the Catalan side of the question, but my impression from talking to the Spaniards I know in Madrid is that they think of the Spanish constitution (and, by extension, the unity of Spain) as something sacred, something that was longed for during the long years of the dictatorship, and it's unthinkable to break it.

It's had a few reforms, latest one in 2011. A bit of the irritation everyone has with all this is that establishment political parties have no trouble amending the Constitution for economy reasons but not for fundamental rights (of many kinds, not just territorial self-determination).
posted by sukeban at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

It's had a few reforms, latest one in 2011.

You're totally right, I remember the protests. But I think the need to reinforce national identity runs even deeper than the need for economic security and the Catalan question has touched that nerve right in the sore spot. People mention the economic aspect when they disparage the independentistas, but the real problem is Why don't they want to be Spanish anymore?? Inconceivable!
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:24 PM on September 23, 2017

lollymccatburglar: Why don't they want to be Spanish anymore?? Inconceivable!

We should make the effort not to build convenient straw men on either side. Catalan society is complex and Spanish society is complex, for some people money is the issue, for other people it might be more cultural, or maybe a mix, right?

The 1955 Canadian referendum called for negotiations, and the 2015 Catalan one was not binding.

On the other hand for the upcoming 2017 Catalan referendum laws were passed that require to immediately declare unilateral independence the day after the referendum, if a majority of votes is reached with any participation.

I think the risk of later having to deal with a non negotiated unilateral independence declaration is what accounts for some of the heavy handedness from the central government at this point.
posted by haemanu at 2:12 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here's another take on the puntcat raid that talks about a future .ct domain too.
posted by haemanu at 2:18 PM on September 23, 2017

I lived in Spain for 30 years on the edge of Catalunya on the Islands. Barcelona was the gateway.
I think to fully understand this peoples desire for Independence you must have a look at their history and their language and culture which is very different from the rest of the Peninsular.
Cataluya is an Economic powerhouse. Which is why Mariano Rajoy, prime minister and leader of the Partido Popular (and thus one of Franco's ghosts); and itself very dodgy, will do anything to stop secession which would cost Spain almost 20 per cent of its economic output, and trigger a row about how to carve up the sovereign’s 836 billion euros of debt.
It would have a gross domestic product of $314 billion (£195bn), according to calculations by the OECD, which would make it the 34th largest economy in the world. That would make it bigger than Portugal or Hong Kong.
Its GDP per capita would be $35,000, which would make it wealthier than South Korea, Israel or Italy.
And Catalonia's contribution to the Spanish economy is twice that of Scotland’s to the UK.
One take slightly cynical is that nationalism and culture, both noble aspirations, whilest appealing to the general populace are but a foil for the politician's usual greed about treasure and who gets to dip into it.
Personally I wish the Catalans well. Visca Catalunya lliure!
posted by adamvasco at 4:58 PM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

  All national TLDs (top-level domains) are two-letters, based on ISO standard country codes.

They're going to have to change that when Scotland becomes independent, since every letter in its name is already taken.
posted by scruss at 7:10 PM on September 23, 2017

"Scotland" in Scottish Gaelic is "Alba," and .ab is free.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on September 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

For all the many detailed differences between Scotland and Catalonia, with regards to the notion of independence, the situation is being watched carefully up here by many (I drove under a motorway bridge in Fife yesterday where a group of people were spending their afternoon waving massive Scotland and Catalonian flags, for example). Like Catalonia, we are in a situation where the local parliament has mandated a referendum on independence - once the final terms of Brexit are known - and where there has been some counter movement form unionists to try to prevent this from occurring. Also, like Catalonia, the population are currently fairly evenly split on the notion of Scottish independence - meaning that there would be a significant number who would find themselves on the losing side in either outcome. I don't think either side would remotely envy us finding ourselves in the position that we see in Spain right now; and I really hope that the two sides manage to find some kind of peaceful compromise in the next week.
posted by rongorongo at 11:21 PM on September 23, 2017

The Catalan government here goes out of the way to paint anyone who does not support independence to be either a direct descendent of Franco or some kind of secret, Catalan hating fascist. The level of hate in their rhetoric is astonishing to me.

They are not hallucinating. Fascism did not just magically disappear after Franco died, and Spain has been notoriously slow in processing the crimes of the dictadura and healing from it. I mean, you can't seriously wonder why Catalans walking up to this felt it was like a slap in the face. I'm aware that this is the current Guardia Civil emblem - I just think it is pretty bewildering that, in Spain in 2017, you can still have fasces on a national symbol. When the institution carrying this symbol censors such forms of democratic expression, it does not take paranoia or fanaticism to connect the dots.

Spanish centralist nationalism is a real, tangible, and ugly remnant of Franquismo. Plenty of politicians in power right now do not even attempt to disguise their chauvinism. And plenty of moderate Catalans, who have believed in peaceful compromise and dialogue for a very long time, have been disappointed, over and over again, by Madrid's blatant disregard of the region's sovereign will -- way before independence was even remotely a political possibility.

There is plenty of legitimate, non-fanatical support for Catalan independence. How much support there is will not be decided discoursively, but in action. It's high time they got their referendum.
posted by ipsative at 1:39 AM on September 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

> They're going to have to change that when Scotland becomes independent, since every letter in its name is already taken.

.cx is Christmas Island. Exact letter matches are a convention, not a requirement.
posted by ardgedee at 3:55 AM on September 24, 2017

There is plenty of legitimate, non-fanatical support for Catalan independence.

I totally agree, and it's being drowned out by the fanatics.

It's high time they got their referendum.

I totally agree. A legal, binding referendum, not an unconstitional, illegal referendum.
posted by conifer at 4:19 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

ardgedee: I just think it is pretty bewildering that, in Spain in 2017, you can still have fasces on a national symbol. When the institution carrying this symbol censors such forms of democratic expression, it does not take paranoia or fanaticism to connect the dots.

One could argue that the fasces was the fascist symbol in Italy, in Spain it was the yoke and arrows.

Overall, I don't think that Spain is a fascist country. I think it's more on the progressive side, despite many flaws. Illegal immigrants have a right to free health care in many parts of Spain, gay marriage was approved early, and despite the harsh recession there's no widespread anti immigration feeling.

Many Catalan representatives are against the way this referendum has been set up, and conversely, there are also significant forces in the rest of Spain who defend the right to hold the current referendum, and even more that agree with a legal negotiated referendum.
posted by haemanu at 9:08 AM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

That's what happens when, for reasons of realpolitik, we keep telling ourselves that Erdogan's Turkey is a member in good standing of the club of free democracies. Soon, other democratic countries with their own problems with regional minorities get the hint that actions of the sort carried out in Turkey against the Kurds are fully consistent with being a free, democratic country, and perish the very thought that they may be a throwback to fascism!
posted by acb at 9:58 AM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's not my place to say what should happen, but among those I know who do have a dog in this hunt, a legal referendum is preferred. The national government is seen to have overreached, but not dramatically so since under current law the referendum would be illegal.

I do wonder what Georgia's abuela would be saying were she still alive. Her family was alternately in and out of favor while they were still in Barcelona during the Franco years (only to get stuck in the Dominican Republic under Trujillo a bit later on, but mostly not out of favor at least), so she had no love for right wingers of any stripe. I wouldn't be surprised if the crackdown didn't turn her completely in favor of immediate Independence.
posted by wierdo at 10:31 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Soon, other democratic countries with their own problems with regional minorities get the hint that actions of the sort carried out in Turkey against the Kurds are fully consistent with being a free, democratic country, and perish the very thought that they may be a throwback to fascism!

What has happened here so far is mostly Spanish and Catalan judiciary systems doing their work -- the bit where they registered the office buildings involved in the referendum was ordered by a judge in Barcelona; and people peacefully protesting in the street while Rajoy has put the majority of the policemen in the country in three cruise ships.

(The president of the Cortes de Aragón was hit by a bottle thrown by a fascist supporter this afternoon in Zaragoza at a reunion of politicians from Podemos and other parties to debate the referendum, because the police has had to send people to Barcelona and there weren't enough police officers to guarantee the safety of the people in the meeting, but for the most part we haven't seen police violence. Yet.)

Comparing that to what's happened to the Kurds is rather insulting, tbh. Please can't we all keep a calm head.
posted by sukeban at 10:47 AM on September 24, 2017

(Disclaimer: I hadn't made any remarks about fascism in this thread. Only about ISO-standardized national abbreviations and the domain names based on them.)
posted by ardgedee at 11:55 AM on September 24, 2017

So sorry! I quoted ipsative, but mistakenly attributed it to you.
posted by haemanu at 12:09 PM on September 24, 2017

I find it odd that so many on the left wing support this

In the US and UK at any rate, there are a lot of leftists who associate the word 'Catalonia' mostly with George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:07 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've just got back from seeing friends in Barcelona over the weekend. Speaking to my friend (who's from Valencia) and his Barcelona native neighbour, it seems like there's a lot of very dubious politics on both sides.

The vote to hold the referendum skipped a couple of stages that would normally take place before it made it to the Catalonian assembly floor (with that fast track enabling legislation itself already being challenged in constitutional courts), and this quote supporting skipping the steps is just depressing: "This is a debate about exercising the right to self-determination in Catalonia, it is not a debate about just any ordinary law," said Junts pel Sí spokeswoman Marta Rovira. Almost arguing that a large constitutional change does not deserve the same safeguards as ordinary laws. The calling of the referendum for less than one month after the vote to enable it also smells wrong to me.

The Madrid government has seemingly decided to go for every possible worst reaction that they can grasp for. Seizing ballot papers, arresting politicians, forcing the .CAT websites offline, etc, etc, etc. They've stated they're taking command of the Mossos (Catalan police force), obviously getting a "no you're not" response from the Catalan government (who replaced the leaders of the force with pro-Independence loyalists), and putting the police in an extremely awkward position with contradictory commands (enable the referendum vs stop the referendum). They've also sent 5,0000 additional police on (I kid you not) a Looney Tunes cruise ship.

It all felt a bit tense, and I get the impression that October first is going to be the proverbial interesting times.
posted by MattWPBS at 4:29 AM on September 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

And it seems to be getting more interesting.

More websites being blocked or shut down, and Mossos trying to tread a fine line (reminding the Madrid authorities that they have a responsibility to maintain public order, and must consider it when carrying out orders).
posted by MattWPBS at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

For any (lefty) Americans who are having trouble with what to think about this, or fitting it onto a left-right spectrum, a couple of points that might help:

"Secession" has a very different valence to someone from America, thanks to your civil war. If you're leftwing in the US, then the idea of parts of the country becoming independent - after this was all settled once and for all during a nasty conflict - is going to be associated with lunatic Confederate assholes, who were on the "wrong" side in the civil war and lost.

In Spain, the "right" side lost - hence the association with Orwell's Homage to Catalunya. Following the war, in which the facist side was supported by Nazi Germany, Catalunya was then absorbed into the Franco dictatorship (explicitly facist).

After the dictatorship ended in the 70s, Catalunya gained a lot of independence, Catalans were allowed to speak their own language again, etc - but the region did not gain full independence.

Given the history alone, it's not surprising that a significant proportion no longer want to be part of Spain, and want full independence. (Is that proportion a majority? Good question - if only there was some way to find out.)

To explicitly address a few ideas that have been raised by other posters (all of which appear in conifer's post, which I'll address for convenience):

They (and when I say "they", I mean the less (probably) than 50% of the region that wants independence) feel that they pay more to the central government in Madrid than they get back...

This is not so much a "feeling" as a "fact". Catalunya gets at most 60% of its tax revenues back from the central government, most of the rest of which is spend directly by the government, rather than redistributed to other regions. This became a very sore point in 2012 where the central government effectively allowed the Generalitat (Catalunya's government) to go bankrupt and forced it to request a bailout, as part of the more general Spanish financial crisis - a crisis which the government blamed on the regions, including Catalunya.

...and that they are oppressed in some way by being part of Spain.

This argument that "hey, they may have been oppressed within living memory, up to and including disappearances and summary executions, but they have nothing to complain about now" is not rhetorically 1,000,000 miles away from "slavery and Jim Crow is over and black people have nothing to complain about". For anyone wondering about whether Catalans are still politically repressed by the Spanish state, you could always... think about the subject of this thread?

I'll side with universalism over nationalism any day.

Me too, but the universalists need to be willing participants. Otherwise you can substitute the word "imperialism" for "universalism" without any loss of meaning. There is historical precedent for countries becoming independent of Spain in the Americas, just as there's historical precedent for countries becoming independent of Britain in the same region.

It's not enough to suggest that those desiring independence and self-determination are unpleasant nationalists, or simply want to hoard their region's resources for themselves.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

Some nicely written background by Giles Tremlett ("Ghosts of Spain" author) in the LRB:

It wasn’t until 2010 that support for independence showed an increase, jumping to 50 per cent. At first this seemed like a blip; it had been thought that no more than a third of Catalans were in favour. In fact it was a sign of profound change, triggered by the constitutional court judgment that summer which struck out parts of the charter for regional autonomy endorsed at a proper referendum four years earlier. Turnout at that referendum had been low, but now the Catalans felt their views were being ignored. The court challenge had been lodged by the conservative People’s Party (PP), led by Mariano Rajoy. His party gains few votes in Catalonia, but wins many elsewhere by loudly opposing attempts to devolve more powers.

Rajoy is now prime minister, and widely regarded as the single biggest stirrer of separatist sentiment in Catalonia. He has failed to respond to appeals for a legal, state-approved referendum, even though more than 70 per cent of Catalans, including many ‘no’ voters, believe this is the best solution. His obstinacy contributed to the victory of the separatist bloc in the regional elections in September 2015, when it gained a slim parliamentary majority with just 48 per cent of the vote. That is a very fragile platform for radical change, but Rajoy has signally failed to take advantage of the fact that most Catalan voters don’t support independence.

I don't necessarily agree with everything he writes, but it's interesting and helpful and written in good faith.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:46 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

My brother-in-law has been waiting on line to vote in Barcelona since 5AM. I'm now receiving messages from him that the Guardia Civil has entered the voting center, and they are beating people with truncheons. They are firing rubber bullets in the streets of Barcelona. Twitter is full of images and videos of police violence against peaceful crowds lining up to vote (hashtags #CatalanReferendum and #1oct).

Meanwhile, El Pais (supposedly socialist) and Spanish Television (controlled by the government) are only showing Madrid politicians and commentators talking about how the referendum is illegal and illegitimate.
posted by fuzz at 2:55 AM on October 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Guardian has a live blog going - they've got the same reports.
posted by MattWPBS at 3:59 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I posted an AskMe about whether something like this has ever happened before, because I can't think of any examples.
posted by clawsoon at 5:21 AM on October 1, 2017

I've seen reports of elderly people with head wounds and apparently there is at least one person gravely wounded. This is absolutely unacceptable. In a democracy that wasn't absolutely corrupt Rajoy or the interior minister Zoido would have already resigned.

Meanwhile, El Pais (supposedly socialist)

The editorial line has been veering to the right for the past 10 years or more. Right now I can't even trust them to report on this accurately, and they used to be the newspaper of reference in the past.
posted by sukeban at 5:54 AM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

As for this, rubber bullets are forbidden in Catalonia after several people lost their eye (because of the mossos rather than the national police).
posted by sukeban at 6:02 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have no particular love for the idealized “worker” as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.

- George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:48 AM on October 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

And in terms of "rules of thumb", when the UN Human Rights Council and Human Rights Watch has come out in favour of a referendum, and on the other hand you have riot police dragging people from polling stations by their hair, clubbing people with their hands in the air, and attacking firefighters that are trying to protect people, it really shouldn't be that tricky to work out who has the moral high ground in the situation.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:35 AM on October 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

(Examples of police brutality in the previous comment all taken from the Guardian Live Blog, as linked by MattWPBS above)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2017

More shameful than this is the silence from the rest of Europe.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:48 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just to repeat what I said before:
The Madrid government has seemingly decided to go for every possible worst reaction that they can grasp for.
posted by MattWPBS at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hundreds injured as Spanish riot police try to stop referendum voters in Catalonia.
Catalan firefighters attacked by Spanish police as they shield voters

posted by adamvasco at 7:55 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here is a video of a Catalan polling station being cleared by police. It's an excerpt from a longer video that's being shared on social media.

CW: violence; violence against women (including several women being thrown down the stairs and one being dragged away by the hair)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:59 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've just caught up with Castro* on Catalonia by Phantom Power (who normally make films re Scottish independence) which gives a good background to today's events from a Catalan pov.

*No, not that one, this one.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:36 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

People looking for Catalonia-based news sources may want to check out the sites of the newspapers Ara or El Periodico de Catalunya - both have liveblogs, and Ara also has a lot of background information on their English page.
posted by mdonley at 8:38 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

a Catalan polling station

We tend to vote in schools or (in small villages) the town hall. That video takes place in the Pau Claris high school in Barcelona.
posted by sukeban at 9:24 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Translation of this video: This is the moment in which the national police attacks a woman in a Barcelona high school. "They threw me down the stairs and and while they did it, besides the aggression, they took the fingers of my hand and they broke them on purpose"

Fuck this, I'm going to the local demonstration against this fuckery.
posted by sukeban at 10:30 AM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Jesus Christ, it's like the government in Madrid is trying to force a win for the pro-Independence side and whip up as much popular support as possible. Saying "sorry, your referendum is illegal, so we won't recognize it" and doing literally nothing else would probably have caused the whole thing to blow over. How can right wingers be so fucking stupid all the time?
posted by wierdo at 10:56 AM on October 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

How come the Basques didn't move to separate before the Catalans did? They actually fought for it militarily.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2017

There was an attempt to hold a Basque independence referendum in 2008 and it was ruled to be unconstitutional by Spanish courts. No vote was held.
posted by Kattullus at 11:45 AM on October 1, 2017

Because this sort of thing has a precedent: Barcelona was scheduled to play against Las Palmas today, who also decided to fan the flames (ts;dr: they're playing with a small spanish flag in the jersey protesting the referendum) . After the first reports of police brutality, Barcelona postponed the match, but it was denied. Fearing there could be massive protests inside the stadium, the match would go ahead, but then there were reports fans could force their way in. The match went ahead on closed doors and Barcelona won 3-0.
After the game, Piqué, one of the torch carriers of Catalunyan identity in the team, has opened the door to leave the national team (he's already booed in Madrid), and called this one of the worst moments in his life, because he was expecting the Guardia Civil barging in, taking out the ballots and going home, not a violent response to peaceful demonstrations where even people flying the Spanish flag were voting peacefully.

How can right wingers be so fucking stupid all the time?
Stupid as a fox. It's not like this will not raise his profile to Castillans, Unionists and Monarchists who will see him as a defender of Spain and the crown.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:08 PM on October 1, 2017

chappell, ambrose: And in terms of "rules of thumb", when the UN Human Rights Council and Human Rights Watch has come out in favour of a referendum, and on the other hand you have riot police dragging people from polling stations by their hair, clubbing people with their hands in the air, and attacking firefighters that are trying to protect people, it really shouldn't be that tricky to work out who has the moral high ground in the situation.

I don't read either of those statements as being in favour of the referendum, more that they're in favour of not beating the shit out of people. The Madrid government's actions have been ridiculously stupid - even if you try to look at it from an anti-referendum point of view. Like wierdo's said just above, all they needed to do was say "it's not constitutional, even if it was it wouldn't be legitimate for these reasons (no electoral register, no independent organisation running it, short timescale from bill to referendum, etc, etc), we're not going to take any notice of the result for both of these reasons. Carry on with the protest vote, it won't change anything, we're going to carry through this constitutional council to look at it in a legal manner, and make sure the costs of the referendum are carried by the separatist parties." Neuters the referendum, makes Puigdemont et al look stupid, bankrupts the two parties.

As it is, this idiotic violent repression probably exceeds what the Catalan government could have hoped for when they organised the referendum. Unless Rajoy secretly wants to push the Catalan population towards a majority demanding independence, he couldn't have done worse.
posted by MattWPBS at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

Oh good, it looks like things are calming down. What with Puidgemont saying "citizens of Catalonia have earned the right to have an independent state" and Rajoy saying "there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia". Can't see any ongoing problems coming up, oh no, sure it's all going to calm down in the morning and over the next few days.

Fucking ridiculousness.
posted by MattWPBS at 2:23 PM on October 1, 2017

The Catalan government is reporting a 90% yes vote for independence. If it's confirmed, that's a spectacular failure for the repressive response.
posted by clawsoon at 4:25 PM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

As for voter participation. If I understand things correctly, 2.26 million votes were cast and collected for counting by the Catalan government. The Catalan government claims that another 770 thousand voters either had their votes confiscated by police or their polling places blocked off. There are 5.3 million eligible voters (42.6% participation, if you don't include the 14.5% of votes that the Catalan government say were lost). Apparently Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, will bring an independence motion before the regional parliament. I imagine that's going to be next flashpoint if Rajoy and the Spanish federal government don't back down.
posted by Kattullus at 5:05 PM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

So I guess, as of today, we are on course for the Catalan government to declare a unilateral declaration of independence. Exactly what happens at that stage is unknown - but it looks like matters have moved to the point where they can't be resolved without the intervention of the EU/UN. When putative new nation declares sovereignty then the laws and constitution of the country it is trying to remove itself from become less of a key issue - more important is whether your cause has any friends. In that lights, this would have been a perfect time for the Spanish government to be able to say that it did everything politely and by the book in terms of its handling of the referendum. Whoops.
posted by rongorongo at 10:49 PM on October 1, 2017

So it was the previsible result of very low turnout but overwhelmingly pro-independence votes that has happened whenever they did a similar poll, exactly the same we'd have got had the police stayed in their cruise ships yesterday. Except of course we now have almost one thousand people wounded and many tens of thousands more siding with Puigdemont because of the police brutality we all saw yesterday.

Heckuva job everyone. Sarcastic clapping.
posted by sukeban at 12:08 AM on October 2, 2017

Interesting summary by politics professor Karlo Basta:
"A few points on today’s events in #Catalonia from someone who
a) has lived through similar times in #Yugoslavia and #Canada
b) works on this for a living and
c) follows Catalan and Spanish politics on this particular issue for past 8 years:

Today’s events reshape the horizon of morally respectable political action for the Spanish government.
Yesterday, offering a plurinational federation IN PLACE of a referendum, would have still been acceptable. Today, it is not.

As of today, the valid horizon is the referendum. In other words, by attempting to stop the referendum by these means Rajoy’s government has strengthened the moral case for it. This is not because opponents of independence are in the wrong, or because supporters of independence are right. It takes little effort to dismantle the myths of both. (No state is sacred – neither the one being eroded, nor the one being created). This is because of the means to which the Spanish government has resorted. Resort to force under these circumstances virtually guarantees no good outcomes.

Viewed thusly, this is a PREDICTABLE failure of political imagination on behalf of Spanish government
in sense of inability to foresee what was likely to happen what it would actually mean, and how it would play.
In terms of practical politics, biting the bullet and opening discussions about a referendum might be the only decisive way to defuse the situation. Those discussions would have to address not only the standard issues of mutual relations, but of the status and.rights of all those inside of Catalonia not wanting independence in case of a ‘yes’ vote.

Of course, this will not happen.

With intensification of Spanish nationalism in recent weeks/months, Rajoy has even greater political incentive to stay the course as ‘protector of the nation’. At the same time, given today’s violence, Catalan government and indy civil society can’t backtrack without appearing to betray those who suffered today. I’m afraid we’ll see more of the same with Madrid hoping Catalonia simmers down and pro-indy Catalans hoping for the involvement
of the international community.

I don’t think either outcome is likely in the short run. A political alternative must emerge from either side, but it may be costly for whoever takes it up. More importantly, it will require an inordinate amount of political skill."
posted by rongorongo at 2:37 AM on October 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

There's going to be a lot of severely disappointed people in Catalonia if they're expecting the EU to ride to their aid over this. I've seen some of the same arguments that were used in the Scottish referendum about continuing membership used over this as well.

Root cause for this current thread is that the Catalan government made unconstitutional changes to the law to ram the referendum bill through, and held an unconstitutional referendum which had fundamental flaws in the way its been held. There is absolutely zero chance that every single European Union member state is going to support a country formed on that basis, which is what admittance into the EU would require. People won't want to set a precedent that a region in a country can ignore the constitution, hold its own referendum at short notice, and then declare independence. You could name Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cornwall just in the UK as reasons why London wouldn't back it. Even without a deep knowledge, I can run off the part of the Basque Country in France, Corsica, Sardinia, the Faroes, Greenland, Bavaria, Northern Italy, Flanders, etc across Europe.

The best that will happen from a Catalan point of view is that constituent countries will tell Madrid and Barcelona that they're both acting like idiots, calm down, and stay within the law (both in terms of not ignoring the constitution and in terms of not sending the riot police in with rubber bullets).
posted by MattWPBS at 3:01 AM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

From Politico, the Catalan government is setting up a commission to investigate abuses of fundamental rights, while the Spanish government is going after Mossos members who did not help stop people voting.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has repeated that the referendum was not legal, and that if Catalonia was to separate from Spain under a legal referendum, it would also be separating from the European Union. They've also called for negotiation and a stop to the violence.
posted by MattWPBS at 6:55 AM on October 2, 2017

Well, there goes our last and best hope for a peaceful solution to this conflict. Puigdemont has been appealing for EU mediation every single day for the last 12 days, ever since the Spanish Government started arresting politicians and journalists. Today the EU responded with a clear declaration of support for Rajoy.

Like all my family and friends in Catalonia and Spain, I was already pretty worked up emotionally; the EU declaration makes it clear that things can only get a lot worse from here. I understand how Gerard Pique and Rafa Nadal's reaction was to cry on camera. I apologize for what's going to be a long a disorganized comment, but I'm going to take advantage of Metafilter to work through what I think is happening.

I just got off the phone with my nephew, who has worked as a lawyer for the European Commission, and his best guess of what happens next is basically the same as mine:
The EU has just signaled clearly that they will not intervene to limit Rajoy. If there is more police violence, maybe they will give him a slap on the wrist. They reject Puigdemont's appeal to European law on human rights. Instead, the EU declaration passes the issue back to the Spanish Constitution, which according to the Spanish State has no issue at all with the violence we witnessed yesterday. This response from the EU will only change if domestic opinion or the financial markets in the main EU countries force it to.

After yesterday's violence, Puigdemont's constituents leave him no choice but to issue a unilateral declaration of independence, probably this Wednesday in the Catalan Parlament. He might be able to insert a clause cancelling the declaration automatically if the EU agrees to mediate. Anything else would provoke the fall of his government in favor of a more radical one.

Rajoy will respond by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, which basically allows the central government to take over all aspects of the regional government. Normally, this would require several days to go through parliamentary procedure (including a vote in the Senate), but he has already demonstrated the ability to short-circuit normal legislative and judicial delays when he needs to. He might first make moves to take over control of the Catalan police and fiscal authorities before invoking Article 155, but it would only be a matter of a couple of days. If he fires or indicts Trapero, the head of the Catalan police, because of Trapero's refusal to order the Catalan police to participate in the repression, that would be a strong signal of what comes next.

This will then require an essentially military operation to take over the Palau de la Generalitat and arrest or ban from politics for sedition the majority of the Catalan political class. They will probably then move to disband Catalan political parties: certainly the CUP and possibly ERC and PdeCat. Then they will call new elections in Catalonia, with a ban on advocating publicly for a referendum (or some other mechanism to prevent Ada Colau, the Mayor of Barcelona, from participating if she manages to stay eligible).

The reaction of the people in Spain and Catalonia to these events is the one great uncertainty. I believe that everyone is underestimating the mood and determination in Catalonia. But that's for another comment later, if I still need to vent about this.

I fucking hate living through history.
posted by fuzz at 10:38 AM on October 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm coming around to the idea that Rajoy was actually trying to ensure the vote came out yes. Why else would you concentrate your repression in Barcelona where it is both more visible and where pro-independence sentiment is most mixed?

Either that or right wingers are just stupid. I find it hard to believe the truly stupid can ascend to the highest levels of government, though.
posted by wierdo at 11:24 AM on October 2, 2017

Recent events in the US and UK argue otheerwise.
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on October 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Trump is a lot of things, but I don't think stupid is one of them. Misinformed, probably. Malicious, certainly. Stupid? No. There's intelligence there, not particularly high, probably, but I think he is capable of understanding things he chooses to understand.

He's like the ultimate pointy haired boss. Understanding is something the underlings do, as is action. He just needs to know enough to be the decider.
posted by wierdo at 4:20 PM on October 2, 2017

Agree to disagree, I basically see him as the dumber more racist version of the Chinese Room concept.
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I find it hard to believe the truly stupid can ascend to the highest levels of government, though.

Stupid government is hugely popular among stupid people, who aren't exactly an endangered species. And as stupid government erodes education...
posted by Sys Rq at 12:42 AM on October 3, 2017

I hate those "you can't separate because the constitution says so" so the referendum is illegal arguments.

We wouldn't recognize a marriage contract where it stipulates the partners can't separate and are forced to live together. We also wouldn't recognize a contract which would let one of the partners decide if the other one can separate or not.

Situation is obviously more complex with countries and regions but to me it's similar, those constitutions are worth nothing if the people aren't free to determine their own future. And lets not forget all those international agreements were setup by country leaderships which had no incentive to allow the implicit recognition of the rights of regions to secede.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:35 AM on October 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a lot more complicated. That's like the old analogy of a country's debt being the same as personal credit card debt.

First off, I'm not defending the Madrid government's actions. Criticism of one side is not support for the other, and both sides have been fucking stupid in this situation.

A constitution can be seen as two things - a constriction of people's freedoms, or the basic law which a government cannot impede on. It doesn't matter what your cause is, a government has to either find the majority necessary to amend the constitution, or obey it.

Rephrase what Puigdemont and co have done with a less positive slant on it:
* changed the parliamentary process in Catalonia to allow fast tracking of bills without amendments or constitutional reports.
* used that change to pass the referendum bill on a simple majority, despite the Catalan Statute of Autonomy saying any change to Catalonia's status needs a 2/3 majority.
* created the Electoral Office of Catalonia in the referendum bill to run the referendum in a fair and neutral manner.
* later dissolved the Electoral Office of Catalonia when its members resigned due to facing fines for breaching the constitution, despite them being the only body empowered in the referendum bill to oversee the referendum, count the votes and certify the results.
* held the referendum anyway, despite no longer even satisfying their own legal requirements.
* held the referendum on 24 days notice after the bill.
* held the referendum without an electoral register.
* allowed people to print ballot slips at home, and vote at any polling station with no checks.
This doesn't smell right at all.

Separate to all of the mess of the referendum, there's the simple horror of imposing full secession on a population who may not want it. Even the most positive opinion polls have given minor leads to a 'yes' vote. The Barcelona government is going to try to unilaterally declare independence after fucking with their own Catalan parliamentary system and founding principles, holding a referendum with all manner of holes in it, and with a substantial doubt that the people even want it.

Again, Madrid's actions before and after the referendum bill was passed are at least as stupid, malevolent and fucked up. The entire situation is toxic - this is not a place of honour.
posted by MattWPBS at 8:38 AM on October 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

It no longer matters what mistakes the Catalan government made because Spain sent in paramilitary forces to threaten or outright attack voters, and those paramilitary forces injured almost 900 citizens. I'd hope this wrecks Madrid's ability to effectively rule Catalonia for the foreseeable future.

Excessive use of force by National Police and Civil Guard in Catalonia

The Gross Dishonesty of the Mainstream Media on Catalonia

In principle, the E.U. could force Rajoy from power over the violence or even suspend Spain's E.U. membership. At the same time, the E.U. could still declare this referendum invalid due to the numerous problems, create years red tape before another referendum could yield more binding results, and ensure that Catalonia needed to quit the E.U. to leave Spain. After cooling down, there are reasonable odds that Catalonia would choose to stay in the E.U., which proponents could argue saved them from Rajoy, who gets remembered as a would-be Franco.

Instead by ignoring Rajoy's paramilitaries, the E.U. has given progressives throughout Europe reason to doubt the European experiment. I suspect this open the door for left-wing parties to negotiate governments with euro-skeptic parties elsewhere.

Amusing : "Spanish king's speech on Catalonia featured painting of ancestor who imposed Spanish language -carrying a truncheon."
posted by jeffburdges at 3:05 PM on October 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had opposed this idea on the grounds it was confusing the policies of current EU states with the institution itself, that it ignored the EU’s strong guarantees of human rights, and its commitment to workers’ rights and consumer protection.

I still believe in the European project, I just don't believe in an european project led by a bunch of Merkels and Junckers and EPPs putting their market gods above the people. I mean, we had an absolute turd of a prime-minister responsible for the loss of hundreds of jobs and massive brain drain and qualified personnel, and the fucking idiots Germany likes to spread around were making thinly-veiled threats over not re-electing that fuckwit. He lost (and now resigned from his party after being obliterated in local elections, although he'll probably get a cushy 5 figure consultant job at those he helped along the way), the people on the lower end got a bit better and the country has been slowly recovering at the same time, but the threats never actually stopped until this year.

For all the talk that the nazis want to destroy the EU etc, austerity-obsessed fuckos like Schauble did far more in that direction that 100 Putins backing 100 Le Pens. Closing their eyes to actual acts of violence from a government against their own people is just a small step from the policies he so ardently enforced, except it looks much worse riot police hitting a septuagenarian than some graphic showing unemployment rising to the 20s on the lazy bums down south.
posted by lmfsilva at 4:56 PM on October 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

On the predictions I made on Monday: Right now we are in a period of calm before the storm.

I was wrong in predicting that they would declare independence yesterday. They have put off the meeting of the Catalan Parliament until next Monday. The CUP is calling for a declaration of independence at that session, but it looks like Puigdemont will try to find a way to put it off another couple of days. Puigdemont has continued to appeal for some kind of mediation as a way to get out of having to declare independence. The Catalan government actually met with the Archbishop of Barcelona yesterday to see if they can get the Church involved as mediators. But with the King's brutal speech and the EU's steadfast refusal to get involved, Catalans are resigned to the idea that there will be no possibility of negotiation.

Rajoy has refused any dialogue. But he didn't order the police to suppress Tuesday's general strike. He appears to be willing to wait a few days while he prepares the crackdown. As predicted, Trapero was charged with sedition yesterday. Ada Colau was charged on Tuesday with the crime of "insult and calumny" against the Guardia Civil for going on the radio and denouncing the reported incidents of sexual assault by riot police during the referendum.

Ciudadanos has been relentlessly attacking Rajoy from the right, claiming that the police action on Sunday was insufficiently strong (!!) and calling for the immediate invocation of Article 155 and new elections. If the PSOE would support the censure motion proposed by Podemos, they could make Rajoy's government fall immediately, but instead Pedro Sanchez made a halfhearted condemnation of the violence and said that the first priority had to be preserving Spain's "territorial integrity".

Meanwhile, the Catalans in the street, all 2 million plus of them, are still maintaining their motivation and discipline. Everyone is saying that Rajoy explicitly ordered the police to target the elderly with violence in the morning, in order to try to intimidate people out of voting. He clearly underestimated the Catalan determination.

Tuesday's general strike was very widely supported and exceeded everyone's expectations. People came out and set up tables to play chess or serve breakfast to the poor in the middle of the autoroutes. It was a demonstration of people's ability to completely shut down the region if they deem it necessary.

Because all the communication is happening on WhatsApp or the app from the Catalan National Congress (a self-financed group of more than a million people not affiliated with any political party) and in the Catalan language, no one outside of Catalonia has any idea of what people are thinking. But you can observe that there has still been no violence from the Catalan people through all of this. There are none of the usual signs from diverse groups demanding attention for social justice causes other than the Catalan cause. That level of discipline is not an accident, it's the result of very determined organizing. Late in the day of the general strike, my WhatsApp was on fire with messages showing pictures of large numbers of riot police in plainclothes coming out of the Tweety Bird boat, and claiming that they were planning to try try to provoke violence under the false flag of being independence demonstrators. So they called on everyone to leave the streets at 9PM and go home, and they did. People are now organizing to identify and isolate anyone advocating violence.

In the absence of mediation, I still see a brutal crackdown as inevitable.
posted by fuzz at 10:21 PM on October 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

OK - so I finally gave in and decided to look up the origins of this thread title. Was not disappointed. Belated thanks kersplunk!
posted by rongorongo at 12:02 AM on October 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, but the 'mistakes' the Catalan government made do still matter, irrespective of what fuckery the Spanish government has also done. Rajoy has been doing his damnedest to frustrate and intimidate the secessionist movement, and has seriously overstepped the mark in the use of force over the weekend, but that does not mean that Puidgemont gets a free pass to wave away the law (or laws, depending on if you want to talk about Spain's constitution, Catalonia's own statute of autonomy, or his own referendum bill).

What on earth makes you think that the European Union is going to force an elected leader from power? What makes you think that would be a good thing? I mean, fucking hell, I remember the palaver over the Greek debt crisis and people like Craig Murray screaming about how the EU was trying to bring down Tsipras and Syrizia, and how terrible it was (Tsipras is still the Prime Minister). It would have been wrong for the European Parliament to try and bring down Tsipras, and it would be wrong for them to try and bring down Rajoy. There's legal remedies for Catalans to take against Rajoy for his use of force (which may well be unconstitutional), and if they are stymied in Spanish courts, then they can take it to the European Court.

You know the rub of insisting that Madrid has to stick to the law, and face the consequences if they don't though? The same must hold true for Barcelona too. That's what's happening when Trapero is being charged for not obeying orders, not a 'move towards extreme measures'. He used his position politically, refused to obey the law, and now he's carrying the consequences. Would you rather a world where police chiefs are able to selectively ignore the law? Because that does not sound good to me.

If you want to talk about what the European Institutions will do, then look to the session in the European Commission yesterday. Here's Verhofstadt's speech (transcript). There's criticism of the violence, there's a call for a federal Spain, there's criticism of Rajoy's failure to talk and listen to the issues. There's also the criticism of the Barcelona government and the basic democratic illegitimacy of the referendum. His call is for both sides to talk and stop escalating. This is exactly what the European institutions should be doing - telling Madrid and Barcelona to calm down, stop trying to ram things forward, and actually talk to each other.

It's going to take that too - both sides taking a step back and giving the situation some breathing space. Right now it's on the brink, and any sudden move from either side is going to set everything tumbling down. Either invoking Article 155 or making a universal declaration of independence is going to trigger the other, and I can't see how things are easily put back together again after that. If Madrid invokes Article 155, then Barcelona's going to take that final roll of the dice and let the chips fall where they may. If Barcelona makes a unilateral declaration of independence, then Madrid's got no choice but to suspend their powers to protect their citizens.

Nobody's doing anything really right at the moment. Madrid's been stupid in not opening dialogue for years about a federal Spain, and insane in giving moral legitimacy to the referendum with the physical violence. Barcelona's acted with a real lack of regard for any rule of law (yes, any, just check to see if the referendum was carried out in the manner set out in the referendum law), and apparent lack of regard for the public, in trying to argue that the results of a referendum that took place with no electoral roll, no supervising body and amongst physical violence can actually be used.

This declaration from a group of university philosophers in Catalonia seems to be a very good outline of what should ideally happen.

On preview: The Express is 100% not a balanced view on Europe. They'd criticise the restriction on the people's freedoms if there was a suggestion that large piles of open radioactive waste shouldn't be stored in school playgrounds.

Also, I should stop writing comments over two days because they get way too rambling.
posted by MattWPBS at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Full text of that declaration, because it's worth embedding. It's on Change.org as well if you feel like signing.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion … if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love." (Nelson Mandela)

We, the undersigned, a group of philosophers working at Catalan universities, declare:

1. We reject the police violence against non-violent citizens in Catalonia on October 1, 2017. In democracies, such violence is unjustified, even given the Spanish Constitutional Court´s judgment of the illegality of the referendum, since the violence was not necessary to prevent the referendum. We call on all Spanish and Catalan politicians to abstain from violence, unilateral actions, provocations, and manipulation of the public. Free speech and respectful dialogue, guided by proper arguments and facts, must be the means by which to solve political disputes.

2. As a first and immediate step towards tension reduction, we propose to the Spanish and Catalan governments that a Commission be formed consisting of expert representatives of all major parties, including the opposition parties of both parliaments, with the task of building a consensus for the procedural and substantive norms for conflict reduction and resolution concerning this case. Furthermore, the Commission should include experts in national and international law, ethics and political philosophy, and conflict resolution.

3. Not only Spanish law, but also parts of international law, such as the Helsinki Accord (Art. 1.III), the EU Maastricht treaty (Art. 4.2), the Council of Europe’s Venice Code of Good Practices concerning Referendums, as well as the UN Charta, the UN Civil Pact, and Resolution 2625 of the UN General Assembly might form part of the legal framework to be considered. All relevant norms must be strictly followed by all involved political parties, decision makers, and nongovernmental organisations. Pacta sunt servanda.

4. Insofar as legal norms do not sufficiently determine the conflict resolution, the solution must draw on ethical norms that are to be discussed freely and accepted by the Commission.

5. While it is unlikely – though not impossible – that a consensus on procedural and substantive norms for conflict reduction and resolution will be accepted by all members of the Commission, the majority required for acceptance of the working norms should not be just above 50% either. In momentous decisions in democracies, with a long-term effect on future generations, agreements require clear and significant majorities, as is the practice for accepting and revising constitutions in many countries.

6. A negotiated referendum on Catalan independence might be one way out, though not the only one. Referendums have to be carefully prepared, require a fair, well-informed, and unbiased public debate guided by the ideals of a deliberative democracy. In such a debate, alternative options, such as more autonomy for Catalonia or a federal reform of Spain, should be fully present too. The Commission should develop such proposals and then send them to the Spanish and Catalan parliaments for informed discussion. With the consent of all sides, advisors from international organizations could help negotiate an agreement between the parliaments. Parliamentary as well as public votes should again aim at significant and clear majorities.

7. The conflict should be addressed in a way that recognizes that Catalonia is not the only case of an independence movement in Europe, and that the demand for more self-determination must be balanced with other important tasks and challenges that the European Union faces. We take seriously the claim of proponents of Catalan independence that they view themselves as Pro-European, unlike other nationalistic movements. We think that a pro-European attitude should include the consideration of relevant interests throughout the European Union.

With these first steps, we aim to help reduce the dangerous escalation of actions and emotions at this critical point. These “chicken games” (Bertrand Russell) can end very badly. If the conflict continues, all sides may bear very serious and regrettable costs. De-escalation from all sides is essential and the reasonable thing to do.


Barcelona, 03/10/2017
posted by MattWPBS at 8:58 AM on October 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tsipras was roughly obeying a democratic mandate, MattWPBS. Rajoy sent paramilitaries to attack innocent voters. Zero comparison.

It's now mostly irrelevant that the votes would not be binding anyways. Rajoy needs to be deposed. Ideally imprisoned along with the police who assaulted voters.

Also, Rajoy is the one refusing to negotiate here because if he does then he'll need to seed a degree of autonomy to Catalonia. And supposedly he hopes to avoid corruption charges in Spain by playing the strong man.

Suspending the Catalan Parliament, Spain Destroys the EU’s “Rule of Law” Figleaf

Spain prepares decree to move company legal HQ's from Barcelonia to Madrid without a share-holders meeting

'The events of the day demonstrated many things to the world. The most self-evident of these is the underlying brutality and lack of imagination of the current Spanish Government led by Mariano Rajoy, as well as the many other parties (including the supposedly progressive Socialists) and media outlets that have backed his “there’s nothing to talk about” approach to the Catalan question.'

'Another was to ram the torero’s finalizing dagger into in to the myth of the supposedly successfully Spanish “transition to democracy” in the years following Franco’s death in 1975; Spain is currently led by a party filled with sons and grandsons of Francoist families who clearly have not repudiated the authoritarian mindset of their much beloved Caudillo.'

posted by jeffburdges at 11:35 AM on October 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Guardia Civil aren't paramilitaries. They used to be mostly a rural police force and the reason they're somewhat military is because they were founded in 1844 a couple of decades after the first modern police force was invented so the concept was very new, but the main difference between them and the army is that they aren't under the ministry of defence, they're under the ministry of interior, like the rest of the police force.

They're not SWATs (those would be the GEOs here). The guardias civiles are the ones who wait at the side of the road and test you for alcohol. Not that they don't have a sketchy history, particularly during the Franco era, but they aren't the thing you're picturing them as, either.
posted by sukeban at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, most of the images I've seen were of Policía Nacional agents in riot gear. I don't remember even seeing the Guardia Civil. They were mostly sent to the countryside and the PN agents to cities like Barcelona because, again, the GC are a rural police force.
posted by sukeban at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2017

"If the EU is not about democracy, what is it about?"

My vague impression of the EU is that it was never about democracy. It was about preventing war. In order to do that, democracies could not be left to themselves; they had to be guided toward the right decisions. When the passions of the people were aroused, peace would be threatened; the EU is about keeping things as boring as possible when it comes to questions of nationalism and statehood. It is fitting that the man who is considered the "father of Europe", Jean Monnet, was never publicly elected to anything.
posted by clawsoon at 4:35 AM on October 6, 2017

You know, dodging justice for sexual assault and outing alleged victims of sexual assault on live TV are despicable things which don't go away because the men concerned have suddenly found an enthusiasm for Catalan independence. And when you add in the pro-Putin stances of Assange and Murray, maybe it might be useful to try and find pro-Catalan sources which aren't misogynist or homophobic-dictator friendly? Unless you think indy movements should be for creepy straight blokes only?
posted by Flitcraft at 6:01 AM on October 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another Police Brutality Video
posted by jeffburdges at 7:00 AM on October 6, 2017

We all know the Spanish riot police are bastards - but when people link to Assange or Murray, they show they'll overlook how those two have treated sexual assault, just so long as there's a juicy link to use while arguing on the internet. It's not just happening here - I'm seeing a lot of male Scottish independence supporters doing it too over the Catalan vote, but it raises the question how much misogyny will the male activists in independence movements overlook, so long as they like what someone says on independence? That's not a question you want female pro-indy people to have to ask.
posted by Flitcraft at 9:06 AM on October 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Jeff - agree that Rajoy should be out of power. He should step down, or be removed by his own party or coalition partners. Deposed? No. Should be done according to the democratic process. It's also the point I was making between Tsipras and him, not that their actions are equivalent, but that it's flat out wrong for supra-national organisations to be trying to overthrow governments.

The problem is that if you want to go down that route, you run into all the reasons why the crap that Barcelona's pulled isn't irrelevant. Let's say that you remove Rajoy for the police violence, as it's something against basic principles in the wider European Institutions. The Catalan government is then gone wholesale as well - they overrode Spanish and Catalan basic law, and are talking about unilaterally declaring independence without a democratic vote. People have cited the Venice Commission a few times, and the fact that the referendum didn't meet the guidance even before things like the lack of electoral register, independent body or similar. It's just wrong.

To take it a bit further, you've linked Craig Murray's "Suspending the Catalan Parliament, Spain Destroys the EU’s “Rule of Law” Figleaf" post. You do realise that the people who have asked the courts to suspend the Catalonian parliamentary session are the socialist opposition in the Catalonian parliament, right? This is the right thing to do - the government are ramming things through against the Spanish constitution and the Catalan statutes of autonomy, and apparently planning to make a unilateral declaration of independence based on a referendum which disregarded it's own establishing law. The courts are protecting the democratic process from majority abuse.

Same wilful misinterpretation from Assange - "Reuters: Spain prepares decree to move company legal HQ's from Barcelonia to Madrid without a share-holders meeting." Actual situation - Spain prepares law to allow companies to move legal HQ to another town without a share-holders meeting. Read the article, and it says that Sabadell have already move to Alicante (not Madrid), because they don't need a share-holder's meeting in their setup (in English here if you don't have Translate working). It's not about moving staff or any business, it's about making sure that they're still able to 100% definitely be under the European Central Bank if Barcelona does anything stupid.

It's possible to spin stuff to make one side the bad guys and one side the good guys, but that's not what the situation is (no matter what Murray and Assange may want to make it appear to be). This isn't simply white shirts versus black shirts, it's not even a simple thing of two sides. There's political fuckery going on in Madrid and Barcelona, and there's degrees of civility and legal common sense in both as well.
posted by MattWPBS at 9:33 AM on October 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

That Euractiv interview with Joan Maria Piqué is a mixture of terrifying and hilarious. One thing I want to just highlight to make the point about fuckery on both sides (never mind the repeated head in the sand about the European Commission saying they'd be leaving the EU if they leave Spain):
I’m really not sure the EU believes a majority of Catalans want independence.
OK, this I can understand…
Therefore many consider that what you are doing is like a coup d’état…
This is pure nonsense. How do you do a coup d’état with ballot boxes and peaceful voters? A coup d’état was done by sending riot police to beat people.
1) Ignore your own region's statute to push through fundamental changes based on simple majority voting in parliament.
2) Run a referendum that goes against that same statute and against international principles on referenda.
3) Wave away conflicts with the referendum law passed just four weeks ago in order to claim victory.

The separatist government's actions really aren't something to be admired.
posted by MattWPBS at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2017

Meanwhile, Artur Mas says to the FT that Catalonia is not ready for "real independence". Poor CiU old guys, it must suck when the young kids take your posturing seriously and actually implement the policies you've been advocating for.

Rajoy should be out of power. He should step down, or be removed by his own party or coalition partners.

Rajoy shouldn't have had a political career after the "plasticine threads" bullshit from the sinking of the Prestige, never mind the continuous scandals of corruption in the Popular Party. He should have resigned years ago.
posted by sukeban at 9:58 AM on October 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

(If the Artur Mas article doesn't load up, go to google news and search for Artur Mas FT. I'm sorry, but I wanted to link to the original interview such as it is)
posted by sukeban at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2017

1) Ignore your own region's statute to push through fundamental changes based on simple majority voting in parliament.
2) Run a referendum that goes against that same statute and against international principles on referenda.
3) Wave away conflicts with the referendum law passed just four weeks ago in order to claim victory.

The separatist government's actions really aren't something to be admired.

You're just going back to the "separation is illegal" argument.

All signs point to them losing the referendum before Madrid interfered, Madrid basically handed them a moral victory. They just had to let them proceed and lose it, but they just proved to the world why the Catalan should secede and why they'd be justified in doing so.

The result is bogus because of the flawed process, but Madrid acted exactly like you'd think they would if they thought the vote for independance would succeed.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:33 PM on October 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

“Why,” asked Mr K, “did I become a nationalist for an instant? Because I came across a nationalist.”
Debating Catalonia.
Even in the worst Franco years I don’t remember violence as bad as that meted out by the police on Sunday. If your government annuls your basic democratic rights and cuts off your freedom of expression, if it distracts and confuses public opinion with incendiary messages, what can you do but confront it? That’s why for me the time is up for Catalonia belonging to Spain. We must insist on a binding referendum to decide our future
For many years I had forgotten about independence for Catalonia, thinking that Spain was modernising. The recent crackdown has changed everything.
Mariano Rajoy is a complete wanker who should have been out on his arse years ago. Thus this becomes a smokescreen.
When he goes he should take the outdated and corrupt monarchy with him.
posted by adamvasco at 9:21 AM on October 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Even in the worst Franco years I don’t remember violence as bad as that meted out by the police on Sunday.

Oh, come on...!
posted by MattWPBS at 10:43 AM on October 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you bothered to properly read that article he says When I was born in 1961 and then continues.
The article you linked to cites the well known atrocities which occured well before Jordi Borrell Celade was born.
The Catalans have an historic right to Independence however neither Rajoy or Puigdemont are the right leaders to determine it.
As usual the Ciudadanos seem to have the best ideas: Parlem. Puigdemont has requesteda meeting several times however the arrogant and weak Rajoy will not meet with him.
posted by adamvasco at 2:12 PM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

If he was born in 1961 he would have remembered the Atocha Massacre or the last executions of political prisoners, particularly the Catalan activist Salvador Puig Antich.

Just sayin'. My parents also ran from the grises in the '70s ffs.
posted by sukeban at 2:26 PM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, yes. The Partido Popular was founded by Francoist minister Manuel Fraga. Franco named Juan Carlos I his sucessor and left everything "tied and well tied"(1). Nobody was ever judged by actions in the Franco era. If the ocassional extreme right wing party never had a chance in hell it was mainly because the PP's hardest wing already covered the fascists. What is most depressing about these last weeks is the sheer number of assholes who have lost all shame, but we all always knew what someone waving the Spanish flag somewhere other than a sporting event was -- a. fucking. facha.

More people calling taxis in Barcelona today in this twitter thread, anyway.

(1) In his speech last week, Felipe VI has just squandered most of the good will that Juan Carlos I got after his actions during the 23-F coup.
posted by sukeban at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

"[Mario] Vargas Llosa is saying just now that the worst human passion of all, the one that has created the most horrors, is nationalism. Here 👇🏻. He's saying that here 👇🏻"
posted by sukeban at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

The event pictured in sukeban's link is today's pro-union march in Barcelona. Here is the Guardian's article: Catalonia: hundreds of thousands join anti-independence rally in Barcelona.
posted by Kattullus at 4:11 PM on October 8, 2017

adamvasco: If you bothered to properly read that article he says When I was born in 1961 and then continues.

Aye, I read it. It's still ridiculous to go down the route of comparing things today to Franco. Google tells me it might be translated as 'dios gane' or 'dios victoria'.

People got dragged out of buildings, baton charged and had rubber bullets fired at them a week ago. It's shit, it shouldn't happen, but it's still not at the same level as people being imprisoned, tortured or murdered during the Franco era. It'd be like comparing the Catalans to ETA - nowhere near the same level.
posted by MattWPBS at 2:06 AM on October 9, 2017

It'd be like comparing the Catalans to ETA - nowhere near the same level.

Funny you should say that. (translation: "A few voting ballots have caused more harm than all of ETA's bombs/ No to violence, yes to talking". This is another of the pictures from yesterday's demonstration in Barcelona). I am out of evens to can at this point.
posted by sukeban at 2:48 AM on October 9, 2017

MattWPBS I think we are talking past each other. I lived in Spain for over 30 years on an Island that identified more as Catalan than Spanish and seen the Guardia in action and the isolation in which they live in their cuartels in the pueblos. Not exactly integrated into society, especially as they are not allowed to serve in their home provinces.
Meanwhile the Fachas in London are hunting Catalans.
The Spanish right have no wish for dialogue of any sort and as sukeban so rightly points out the PP is just an extention of francoism disguised in modern clothing
posted by adamvasco at 5:27 AM on October 9, 2017

Aye, that's the point I'm making. It's bull to claim the independence movement is as bad as ETA, it's also bull to claim Rajoy is as bad as Franco. Both sides are doing/saying stupid shit, but neither one is the worst thing to ever happen, and claiming that just leads to straw men.

Claiming the Catalan separatists are worse than ETA completely distracts from the procedural fuckery they've been up to. Claiming Madrid is acting worse than during Franco times distracts from the refusal to even seriously discuss greater autonomy. Everyone gets more and more polarised, and is able to justly argue that "no, you're wrong, we haven't [bombed transport hubs]/[established concentration camps]", rather than being forced to engage with what they have actually done.
posted by MattWPBS at 7:14 AM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just wish everyone would calm the fuck down and figure it out.
posted by MattWPBS at 7:19 AM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Spain ready to take 'drastic' measures to stop region becoming independent
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hints he will impose the 'nuclear option' of direct rule if Catalonia tries to secede.
In history, declarations of independence by Catalonia have fared very badly
Anybody that declares it could end up like the one who tried it 83 years ago, the PP’s deputy secretary for communication, Pablo Casado, said on Monday, in a reference to Lluis Companys’ failed bid for independence in 1934.
Companys was put up against a wall and shot.
"Refusing to wear a blindfold, he was taken before a firing squad of Civil Guards barefoot and, as they fired, he cried 'Per Catalunya!' (For Catalonia!)"
The cause of death was given as 'traumatic internal haemorrhage'.
posted by adamvasco at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Incidentally, I'm just anti-fascist generally, and thus opposed to Rajoy's PP, not actually pro-independence here.

I suspect formal independence would result in Catalonia being ruled by otherwise typically corrupt Southern European politicians, maybe not as corrupt as Rajoy's PP perhaps. Instead, if they merely gain increased autonomy then the Catalan parliament might be forced into governing Catalonia better than the Spanish parliament governs Spain. Spain and Catalonia are absolutely not England and Scotland, but the SNP seemingly consists of otherwise typical center left politicians who do a much better job to prove themselves better than the English.

Instead of independence, I think the Catalan parliament should demand autonomy in ways that damage the Rajoy's fascist PP party without really making E.U. members worry too much about their own semi-autonomous regions. Example :

- Independence from the Spanish monarchy formally, but not from the Spanish parliament, so the Spanish king's only real power over Catalonia would be through his power over the Spanish parliament.

- Independence of the Catalan judiciary and police. Any disputes between the Catalonian and Spanish judiciary can be settled at the E.U. level or clarified by new Spanish laws.

- Spanish police and military cannot operate in Catalonia without the approval of the Catalan parliament, with certain exceptions as needed by E.U. law, like border control officers.

- End the Ley de Amnistía en España de 1977 in Catalonia, so crimes committed in Catalonia by the Franco regime can be prosecuted in Catalonia, including seizing estates of those who committed crimes.

- Independence of various social services so that austerity measures imposed by Spain cannot break the social system in Catalonia, including drastically reduced wealth transfer from Catalonia to Spain via taxation, but not necessarily strictly independent tax systems.

- Demand reparations from Spain to the families of Catalans murdered by the Franco regime.

In particular, I think a heavy focus on human rights abuses committed by Franco's regime might put E.U. members as ease, as their own crimes against humanity were too far in the past, while also kinda "punching the fascists in the balls" since Rajoy's PP is tightly linked with Franco's regime.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:34 AM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Guardian Live Blog on Puigdemont address.
posted by MattWPBS at 9:04 AM on October 10, 2017

Speech delayed for an hour

Well, that’s quite the anti-climax. BBC news are reporting Carles Puigdemont has requested an hour delay before he gives his speech.

The chamber in the Catalan parliament has emptied.

posted by MattWPBS at 9:14 AM on October 10, 2017

I suspect formal independence would result in Catalonia being ruled by otherwise typically corrupt Southern European politicians

That's not helping.
posted by sukeban at 9:16 AM on October 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

The worst thing is that, generally speaking, Rajoy's best strategy has always been to do nothing and wait for his enemy's corpse to pass in front of his house (so to say). Now, with a bit of luck, he keeps doing nothing and the Catalan separatist movement implodes by themselves.

The other option is to go hard on Catalonia, and that would have the contrary effect of uniting everyone against the ocuppiers. So for once I only hope Rajoy sits on his hands and lets the CUP kids devour Puigdemont because the kids want independence now and Puigdemont knows he can't.
posted by sukeban at 12:05 PM on October 10, 2017

If these pictures are accurate in timing/description, funny juxtaposition.
posted by MattWPBS at 2:30 PM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's almost as if whipping up a mob to obstaculize police working in the middle of an investigation was illegal or something, yeah. Horrible.

In other news, justice trudges on.
posted by sukeban at 4:47 AM on October 17, 2017

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