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9.03.2015

A reaction to a Reuters article

Reuters reported yesterday, after President Mas' session in the Catalan Parliament, that "Catalonia faces wall of Spanish incomprehension, regional government says".

The authors make a number of statements I regard as questionable.

1. "A Catalan regional election this month, which the pro-independence government has billed as a proxy on independence from Spain, is a last resort because of the indifference to Catalan demands shown by Madrid, the head of the regional government said on Wednesday."

The election was the way forward once the list of five ways of gauging suport for independence outlined by Catalonia's Advisory Council on National Transition (CATN) in their White Paper, specifically in Chapter One (all texts, including versions in English and Spanish, here) had been exhausted.

The "Catalan demands" are simply to gauge whether or not independence enjoys the suport of the majority of the Catalan lectorate. The demands are not on finance, legislation, powers or anything else.

"The Catalan ballot comes before a general election due by year's end which Rajoy's center-right People's Party is expected to win."

Polls (for all they're worth) show that their majority is likely to be greatly diminshed.

"[Rojoy's] government banned a non-binding Catalan vote on independence last November, although a vote took place anyway."

The Spanish government could not "ban" the vote! It made the Constitutional court stop the vote under regional legislation. The machinery continued in the form of a participatory process organised by volunteers. All Catalan government publicity and activity stopped. The public prosecutors in Catalonia saw nothing illegal in what happened thereafter, but their bosses in Madrid forced them to take court action against the Catalan president and two ministers on four grounds. They could end up in gaol on any of three of these grounds, and be barred from political life on all four grounds. Literally.

"The pro-independence platform he heads has said everything is ready for a unilateral declaration of independence in around a year's time if the regional vote gives them "a clear mandate", as they expect."

All parties would prefer a negotiated settlement, but central government has absolutely refused to even discuss the poll, let alone a separation. This is why even moderate political scientists and politicians see a UDI as the only way forward, if there is a pro-independence majority in the next parliament. Analysts also say that Spain's numerous international creditors would be the first to force the Spanish government to the negotiating table, to avoid it defaulting on its sovereign debt, now equivalent to 100% of its GDP. It would rise to 125% of its GDP without Catalonia.

"Opinion polls show pro-secessionists are likely to win this month's vote but may be short of a majority".

I strongly recommend that Reuters and other media take every single poll until September 27th with a liberal pinch of salt. At least one Madruid newspaper quotes "results" by a firm no-one has heard of, and of which some doubt its existence. They are one of seven fronts believed to have been designed as part of Spain's effort to smash Catalan public opinion, and subvert the normal course of the 27-S election.

"On Tuesday, the government announced it propose increasing the powers of the Constitutional Court to ensure its rulings are met, something political parties said was aimed directly at Catalonia."

Even members of the Constitutional court itself are aghast at the thought. There has been immediate widespread opposition to the proposal. Such a change would further politicise the Court. Plus it is not "political parties" but the Spanish government itself that said it was aimed against Catalonia. Why, moreover, did the PP candidate for the 27 September election sit at the table when the government announced the bill? Another exemple of how the PP erratically, but often, mix party and government.
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