Tuesday, 16 July, 2019

Hemorrhage of Catalonia? What's Behind Its Upcoming Independence Referendum

Spanish democracy faces its biggest challenge in decades Spanish democracy faces its biggest challenge in decades Commentary
Christy Curtis | 30 September, 2017, 00:39

The EU should do its duty as a repository of democratic values by telling Spain to allow a referendum on Catalan independence to take place, the region's foreign affairs chief said.

"The Spanish government has allowed the Catalan conflict to rise from internal discussion to an European conflict", said Colau, adding that Europe cannot remain "passive" on this issue.

'Today we can affirm that there will be no effective referendum in Catalonia.

"You do not need to share the Catalan regional government's roadmap to realize that the main party responsible for worsening the situation has been the intransigent government of Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy", Colau wrote.

While I am no separatist and have even criticised the unilateral course taken by the Catalan regional Government, I am alarmed by the repressive measures the Spanish Government has been using to prevent the referendum of 1 October; a response that represents a "qualitative leap" within its own strategy for judicialising the Catalan conflict.

Spain's economy minister told the FT that a Catalan exit would also mean an automatic exit from the European Union and eurozone, subjecting 75% of the region's production to export tariffs - but not everyone agrees.

The Bank of Spain warned that political tensions over the independence drive in Catalonia, which accounts for about a fifth of the Spanish economy, put its growth forecasts at risk although it kept them unchanged for this year and the next.

Nearly 10 million ballots were seized last week, although the whole population of Catalonia is a little more than 7.5 million, including those who are not eligible to vote.

Thousands of additional police have been deployed to the region, with orders to take control of the voting booths.

"This referendum does not solve anything, it is a problem because it pits the two sides of Catalonia against each other", said Alex Ramos, the vice president of a group that opposes secession called the Sociedad Civil Catalana (SCC).

As part of their efforts to stop the referendum, the Spanish government has blocked Catalan websites, seized pro-succession material and detained officials involved in the referendum.

Jordi Marti drives a taxi in Barcelona plastered with stickers supporting the vote.

The unprecedented crackdown has enraged many in Catalonia.

Catalonia's pro-sovereignty administration argues that the region, with a population of 7.5 million, has the right to self-determination. "It's over because we have been negotiating with the Spanish government for 40 years. and it hasn't been worthwhile".

The UN experts say that irrespective of the legality of the referendum itself, the Catalan public has the right to assemble publicly.

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