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Inconclusive

Big day here; Catalan parliamentary elections, which are in effect a referendum on independence from Spain. Looks like the worst possible result; the Yes coalition has won a majority of seats, but it looks like it has failed to secure 50% of the popular vote.

Someone said to me on Friday, ‘We will vote and we will be independent.’ I told her ‘No you won’t, because Madrid won’t allow it and neither will the military, which has an obligation to protect the Spanish state.’

As it stands, the leader of the ‘Si’ movement says that if independence is not granted he will declare it in two years. By that argument, ie a substantial majority of parliamentary seats, Nicola could declare Scotland independent tomorrow. But she won’t.

I say this as an SNP member and a supporter of independence for Scotland; without 50% plus one of the popular vote, there is no incontrovertible mandate for Catalan independence.

Categories: Politics
  1. George
    September 28, 2015 at 9:28 am

    It’s debatable whether 50%+1 of the popular vote is actually a mandate for independence. Surely it should be 50%+1 of those eligible to vote? Even then is the vote of one person sufficient for such a huge change ie throwing away centuries of tradition etc. Firmly believe decisions as big as independence, removing monarchy etc should have something like a 60% threshold for change.

    • September 28, 2015 at 9:53 am

      I recognise that argument and respect it but I don’t accept it.

      Democracy is about one man one vote, majority wins. If you are the man and you have the vote, so be it.

  2. Fergus
    September 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Putin and others aside, a mockery of democracy, I think you’re right QJ. Watching the news here in “Catalunya del Nord” (Roussillon), we’ve been told that it’s 50-50 for “Independence,” although it isn’t really a referendum (the media turned it into one), half the people don’t want it or are afraid of it, more than 70% of voters voted, which is way above average for most other elections (excluding the above-mentioned) but 30% didn’t. Here, the independists are delighted; they can sit back and watch it happening (if it does) but they won’t be affected at all (although we might all have to have passports to get in). The “Si” movement has given itself/imposed 18 months to negotiate before declaring independence unilaterally. I don’t think it’s going to happen because Madrid will negotiate “more autonomy,” etc., etc. in order to avoid another crisis it doesn’t need. It’s all about applyiing pressure in the right place when things aren’t going the way you want or moving fast enough.

    • September 28, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      We’re in the land of wait and see, Fergus. The media didn’t label it an independence vote, Artur Mas did. He didn’t get as much as he hoped for but he got enough to carry on. The National election in November may influence what happens next.

  3. Geoff Peters
    September 29, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Having lived here for many years now, I do feel that a great many Catalan people have been caught up in the romantic notion that all the ills of the Catalan nation will disappear virtually overnight with independence without considering the cost. Having read and listened with interest, nobody seems to take into consideration the enormous cost of indepenence….for example, Catalonia is no longer part of Spain…so how does it stay in the EU?….join up?….well to my understanding this is not so easy, you need to have a military structure…not cheap at all. Then money raises it’s ugly head…Catolonia would not have access to the Spanish national bank or (in theory), the ECB…so borrowing would have to be made on International Markets at far higher interest rates, in fact crippling for the Catalan people. So panic would set in and we could see (God forbid) a run on the banks as in Greece recently, and as we all know the banks do not hold enough liquid funds to pay out their depositors on demand. There is an enormous amount of considerations to be taken into account I feel, that have not been made public. I also get the feeling that the Catalan people blame the Spanish government for the economic crisis here…..they choose not to see that it was (and still is) a world wide problem!!.
    I will leave the final decisions to people far more intelligent than I.

  4. Diana
    September 29, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Can’t help agreeing with you, Geoff. It is a matter of hearts over minds. I respect the feelings of the heart, but truly, the head has to say “No”. Quintin, I know you are an S.N.P. supporter, but the same thing holds true for Scotland, too. – and, yes, I am Scottish.

    • September 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Diana, I’m a Scotland supporter first and foremost. If you’re saying to me as a part of the Scottish nation, that we’re incapable of sustaining an economy outside the context of a union with England, then I take that as a national insult.

      As for the other situation, Rajoy doesn’t want to keep Catalunya within a Spanish state on grounds of patriotism. He does so because Catalunya is a positively disproportionate contributor to the Spanish GDP. There is a powerful economic argument for Catalan withdrawal from Spain, and selfish counter-argument for the rest of Spain to keep them inside the tent. As for Geoff’s belief that Catalunya would need an army to join the EU, I do not see the nations of Europe quaking when Luxembourg, Cyprus or Malta decide to stage military exercises.

  5. Diana
    September 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Quintin, No, I am not saying that Scotland is incapable of a sustainable economy outwith the UK. However, with the heavy reliance on oil revenue quoted by the S.N.P. and not much reference to other industries (and here I speak as one who worked in the whisky distilling – probably accounts for my poor tryping – but it is a growing industry). I feel that putting the majority of our eggs in one major basket is folly. Scotland needs to be ahead of the game in areas is excels in. Quality of manufacturing used to be expected from Scottish goods, but what is now left in manufacturing? Shipbuilding has all but priced itself out of the market, steel is gone, even light stuff such as Tweed and Cashmere is struggling. Things that you can touch and see tend to be the hook on which the value of a currency depends and upon which an economy rests. Sorry, I’ve gone on rather, but I care a lot about Scotland.

    • September 29, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      That view is out of date, IMO.

      Scotland’s heavy industrial base was closed down thirty years ago by Maggie Thatcher, a great Prime Minister for England, but a neo-Hanoverian despot for Scotland. Then our fund management and insurance sectors were decimated by demutualisation, fuelled by the greed of the public utility sell-offs.

      But we’re still not too badly off for an industrial base. Whisky, as you say, and video games are strong, and the oil won’t go away until it’s depleted. Then there’s tourism, the daddy of them all; you can’t touch that and you can’t see it, but it’s a massive asset.

      Our big problem, in my humble, lies with those industries that are now completely driven by and centred on London. Publishing and financial services come immediately to mind; if you want to achieve anything in the creative field, you must go south. We can’t reverse that until we control our own economy.

  6. Diana
    September 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Sort of chicken and egg!

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