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Things coming to a head in Catalonia

by Migeru Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 10:02:18 AM EST

Yesterday, twelve Catalan newspapers fired a shot across the bow of Spain's Constitutional Court by publishing a hard-hitting joint editorial. El Pais, Spain's largest newspaper, quoted the editorial in full, here excerpted, in its online edition:

La dignidad de Catalunya · ELPAÍS.comCatalonia's Dignity - ElPais.com
Después de casi tres años de lenta deliberación y de continuos escarceos tácticos que han dañado su cohesión y han erosionado su prestigio, el Tribunal Constitucional puede estar a punto de emitir sentencia sobre el Estatut de Catalunya, promulgado el 20 de julio del 2006 por el jefe del Estado, rey Juan Carlos, con el siguiente encabezamiento: "Sabed: Que las Cortes Generales han aprobado, los ciudadanos de Catalunya han ratificado en referéndum y Yo vengo en sancionar la siguiente ley orgánica".After nearly three years of slow deliberations and continuous tactical skirmishes which have damaged its cohesion and eroded its reputation, [Spain's] Constitutional Court may be about of issuing a sentence on the Catalan Statute [of autonomy], enacted on July 20th 2006 by the Head of State, King Juan Carlos, with the following header: "Know: That the Cortes Generales have approved, the citizens of Catalonia have ratified in referendum, and I come to sanction the following Organic Law".
......
El Alto Tribunal va a decidir sobre la dimensión real del marco de convivencia español, es decir, sobre el más importante legado que los ciudadanos que vivieron y protagonizaron el cambio de régimen a finales de los años setenta transmitirán a las jóvenes generaciones, educadas en libertad, plenamente insertas en la compleja supranacionalidad europea y confrontadas a los retos de una globalización que relativiza las costuras más rígidas del viejo Estado nación. Están en juego los pactos profundos que han hecho posible los treinta años más virtuosos de la historia de España. Y llegados a este punto es imprescindible recordar uno de los principios vertebrales de nuestro sistema jurídico, de raíz romana: Pacta sunt servanda. Lo pactado obliga. Hay preocupación en Catalunya y es preciso que toda España lo sepa. Hay algo más que preocupación.The High Court is going to decide on the real dimension of the framework in which Spaniards live together, that is, the most important legacy that the citizens who lived and were protagonists the change of regime at the end of the 1970s will pass on to the younger generations, educated in freedom, fully inserted in the complex European supranationality, and facing the challenges of globalization which relativizes the most rigid trappings of the old Nation state. At stake are the deep paacts which have made possible the most virtuous 30 years of Spain's history. And, arrived at this point it is necessary to recall one of the core principles of our legal system, of Roman roots: Pacta sunt servanda. Agreements are binding. There is a worry in Catalonia and it is necessary that all of Spain knows it. There is more than worry.
Hay un creciente hartazgo por tener que soportar la mirada airada de quienes siguen percibiendo la identidad catalana (instituciones, estructura económica, idioma y tradición cultural) como el defecto de fabricación que impide a España alcanzar una soñada e imposible uniformidad. Los catalanes pagan sus impuestos (sin privilegio foral); contribuyen con su esfuerzo a la transferencia de rentas a la España más pobre; afrontan la internacionalización económica sin los cuantiosos beneficios de la capitalidad del Estado; hablan una lengua con mayor fuelle demográfico que el de varios idiomas oficiales en la Unión Europea, una lengua que en vez de ser amada, resulta sometida tantas veces a obsesivo escrutinio por parte del españolismo oficial, y acatan las leyes, por supuesto, sin renunciar a su pacífica y probada capacidad de aguante cívico. Estos días, los catalanes piensan, ante todo, en su dignidad; conviene que se sepa.There is an increasing weariness over having to stand the angry look of those who continue to perceive the Catalan identity (its institutions, economic structure, language and cultural tradition) as a fault which prevents Spain from attaining a dreamed and impossible uniformity. Catalans pay their taxes (without historical privileges); they contribute with their effort to the transfer of income to the poorest parts of Spain; they face economic internationalization without the many benefits of hosting the State capital; they speak a language with more demographic weight than many official languages of the EU, a language which, instead of being loved, is so often subject to obsessive scrutiny by the official Spanish nationalism, and they uphold the laws, of course, without giving up their peaceful and proven ability to withstand with civility. These days, Catalans think, above all, of their dignity; this should be known.

Explanation and commentary after the fold.


Reactions to the editorial occupied the Spanish political class for the whole day. The outpouring of support in Catalonia was massive, except for the local People's Party and the anti-nationalist party Ciutadans de Catalunya. In the rest of Spain, the second paper (after El Pais) by circulation, El Mundo, editorialised that the Catalan text was fallacious, while the professional association of Conservative judges called it an "unacceptable pressure" on the Constitutional Court. The Progressive judges' associations, on the other hand, tolerate it as an expression of freedom of speech. Prime Minister Zapatero has expressed "respect and interest" for the Catalan editorial. The People's Party feels "unease" while calling for "calm".

Some explanations of the background are in order. Spain has a Constitutional Court separate from its Supreme Court and charged with deciding exclusively on constitutional issues. The legitimacy of the court is damaged by the political manoeuvering around the appointments to it, to the point that, of its usual complement of twelve Justices 5 new ones should have been appointed but haven't (one has died, and four remain in the court two years after their terms lapsed in 2007). Why? Because the People's Party, in opposition, has blocked the necessary consensus in the Spanish Senate thus preserving the ideological balance in the court inherited from the 8 years of Aznar's government in 1996-2004. Another Justice has been recused in the case of the Catalan Statute as he was allegedly not impartial.

I'm not going to mince words about the People's Party because the Spanish Right Wing thinks of Spain as their ranch, which they have an inalienable right to govern, and stop at nothing, not even the stability of the State and the integrity of its Institutions, in order to attain power. They demonstrated this in spades in 1993-6, starting with accusations of electoral fraud when they failed to win the 1993 elections as they expected, followed by their refusal to accept their electoral defeat in 2004 which led them to encourage conspiracy theories that the PSOE, together with ETA, was behind the March 11 bombing everyone else attributed to Al Qaeda-inspired militants.

In this vitiated atmosphere, a wave of reforms of Spain's Autonomy Statutes has been unfolding, with predictable if undesirable consequences. Spain is a unitary state, but it has devolved very extensive powers to its "regions and nationalities" (to quote the Constitution of 1978) by means of "Autonomy Statutes" to the point of being as decentralised as some of the EU's federal states, making Spain a federal state in all but name. This is remarkable in that the Constitution was drafted and approved barely 2-3 years after the death of Franco, who ruled Spain for 36 years suppressing Spain's multinational character. In point of fact, Spain's Second Republic (1931-6) had enacted a Catalan and Basque "Autonomy Statutes" and was in the process of approving one for Galicia when the Civil War broke out. The current People's Party represents the kind of Spanish Centralist Nationalists who found the 1930's Autonomy Statutes abhorrent to their ideal of "One Spain". They have to live with devolution and wrap themselves in the Constitution and use regionalist rhetoric when it suits them, but since 2005 they have been playing a dangerous game of undermining Spain's state institutions as a way to stop the reform of the Autonomy Statutes which they find inconvenient.

The reform of the Catalan Statute started with the Catalan regional elections of 2003. In them the Conservative Moderate Nationalists of CiU lost the regional government for the first time since 1979 to the Socialists led by Barcelona Mayor Pasqual Maragall (of 1992 olympic fame). The new Socialist government, allied with other left-wing parties, embarked on a reform of the Autonomy statute which, after 25 years, was an eminently sensible thing to do. Then in 2004 Aznar stepped down as Prime Minister and his party unexpectedly lost the elections. However, Aznar acceded to the consultative Council of State (Consejo de Estado) as a former Prime Minister and lay in waiting, ready to pounce when that body had to pronounce itself on the draft Catalan Statute approved by the Catalan Parliament in 2005. I am not exaggerating: Aznar acted in an unseemly fashion having to be rapprimanded by the Chairman of the Council of State because of his insistence on debating the constitutionality of the statute, something the Council was not charged with doing. Also, as soon as the Council had issued its advice on the Statute, Aznar stepped down from it to join the board of Murdoch's News Corp (from which he was already receiving income as a "consultant" while he held his Council position). And, finally, it had been during Aznar's term as Prime Minister that former Prime Ministers had been inducted into the Council, a position that all three previous Prime Ministers had declined to take up when it became available.

But this didn't end there. Unable to stop the Catalan Statute at the Council of State, the PP tried to do it in the Congress and, failing that, they decided to lodge a constitutionality question on the statute with the Constitutional Court. They did this before the Stature had been enacted, which meant their case was thrown out, but in late 2006, after the Catalan people had approved it in a referendum they tried again, this time getting their challenge in. Meanwhile, they were already blocking the renewal of the governing body of the Spanish Judiciary (which also has a consultative role on new legislation), the General Council of the Judiciary (Consejo General del Poder Judicial) again to preserve the ideological balance inherited from Aznar's time as PM - this blockade lasted 4 years, during which the PP lodged unconstitutionality complaints against just about every law passed by the Spanish Parliament. Three years later, here we are. The judiciary remains politicised at every level (including the High Courts of the Autonomous Communities) and not only because of the PP - this is a chronic flaw exploited by all parties.

It should be noted that in 2005 the PP also encouraged a boycott of Catalan products in the rest of Spain, as well as claiming throughout that Zapatero wanted to "break up Spain". Later, when the Catalan-based utility Gas Natural attempted a takeover of Madrid-based Endesa, the People's Party led a campaign against a "foreign firm" taking over a "Spanish firm". Never mind that the "foreign firm" was Catalan and that there was no such criticism when the German E.On attempted to buy Endesa after Gas Natural's bid failed... This is an example of how the PP can, at the same time, claim that Catalonia is Spain and that Catalans are foreign.

So, what now? In the last months there have been a number of non-binding referenda on independence organised by city councils across Catalonia, and now we have yesterday's joint editorial. And this at a time when, in the context of the updating of their own Autonomy Statute, the Basque nationalist parties have finally accepted the Constitution as the guarantor of their own national rights. The PP's atavisms do threaten to undo the progress of the last 30 years.

The worst that can happen is that the Constitutional Court does strike down or reinterpret a substantial part of the new Catalan Statute. There is a scenario in which the Catalan polity engages in civil disobedience, and I don't really want to consider what the reaction of the Spanish Centralist Nationalists (including at least the whole PP and a segment of the PSOE) would be. The political pressure on the Socialist governments in both Catalonia and Spain would mount. Would Catalonia really consider independence? How would Zapatero react? Could he be unseated if he refused to use force to preserve the "indissoluble unity of Spain"?

As a concluding thought, after knocking the PP so much I have to admit that a large proportion of the Spanish population is deeply and unseemingly anti-Catalan, which I find remarkable and ultimately incomprehensible. The boycott of Catalan products I mentioned above did not need a lot of pushing to be taken up by people across the country. It really is that bad...

Display:
Gah

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 26th, 2009 at 07:54:56 PM EST
Agh

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 05:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two disturbing points that stand out to me from this:

  • it's surely a flaw in a constitution when the body intended to pronounce on issues of interpretation of the constitution can be politically gamed in the way you describe. That problem can bite its own tail for a long time, since the court is in a position to delay or block attempts to reform its procedures. The Zapatero government could try constitutional amendment, but that's only likely to be feasible if there was a major movement of public opinion behind it, which brings me to the second point:

  • why is there such anti-Catalan feeling? It can't be incomprehensible, it must have roots, a history.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 02:43:18 AM EST
Well, in 1713...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 02:55:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
History?

Well, people can justify it this way.. but right now, basically is modern political imaginary and simbolism to get votes. Otehr regions of spain have a psudo-independent state atauts (Navarra), others are strucutred as a federation-confedereation with Spain (Basque Country),and still is Catalonia the more famous in right-wing spanish environment since ETA is diminished because Catalonia alwyas wants independence and get spaniards money.

Some people think that it is because the catalan families (our oligrarchy) has a desire to influence in the Madrid down-town high echelons and in the Spanish structure...and this is something whch leads to a big ideologic fight with other power groups.

Others people talk about the fact that Catalonia is the only place where a different language than spanish is used... that makes some easy symbolism if you are a spanish nationalistic party.

And the state of the spanish right-wing is awful (disgraceful, theys top at nothing) , the Consituttional Curt is in shambles, and the catalan oligarchy is stupid-dumb-stupid.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 05:19:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saying something has "a history" doesn't mean you have to tell the official History of Spain from the Treaty of Utrecht on. It means it has a past.

Is a negative view of Catalans among other Spanish people only a very recent phenomenon due to right-wing demagogy (and dumb Catalan oligarchs), or does it reach further back?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 05:28:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
quite recent, very recent i nost of its forms.

having said that, you normally try what once worked in some way or form. So franco activist were against Madrid and catalonia, pre-franco times there was some animosity too but it was about anarchism-socialism-liberalism-authoritanism more than anything else..

It is a clear example of Levi_Strauss ideas, take a basic myth and make simple logical steps to adapt it.

So the basic mythology has history, the present virulent form is new.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 05:39:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ignorance-covered envy.

Sociologically, Madrid's arrogant view as the unquestionable center of power is made up by large numbers of poverty-stricken rural migrants that have worked hard (in appalling conditions during the dictatorship) to reach a comfortable financial position in democracy, without equally improving their educational level.  These two-three generations are easy prey for the PP pathology that repeats 'Catalunya has it easy with 'our' money and that's why you can't have more ... services'.  

Catalunya is prosperous and has an image of being entrepenurial, persistent, productive and innovative, but not submissive.  What's not to envy and reject?  

Add to that the Catalan nasal speech and entonation that can be spotted immediately, plus their demand for equal political-economic treatment and you have the perfect 'other' in a knee-jerk brain.  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 4th, 2009 at 06:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The negative view of Catalans among other Spanish people" is not restricted to "Madrid's arrogant view" - it is widespread and I am not even sure the view originates in Madrid though it is true that Madrid has become a PP stronghold in the last 20 years. There is enough hostile rhetoric between Catalonia and Valencia over the Catalan/Valencian language, and between Catalonia and the poorer regions of Extremadura and Andalusia which happen to have provided much of the immigrant labour that fuelled Catalonia's economic development over more than a century...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 12th, 2009 at 03:10:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds to me like the Catalan elite (in contrast to the Navarran or Basque) is strong enough to be a threat to the ruling elite in Madrid in the question of which is the dominant elite in Spain. That might be a good enough reason to vilify the catalans as a group.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 03:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More like the Navarra and Basque elite were/are very smert, accomplsihed a lot of things wwhen it was possible and mattered (30-20 years ago) and then disentangled from any wish to affect the internal power in central Spain.

Meanwhile in catalonia.. well just the opposite.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 07:47:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
it's surely a flaw in a constitution when the body intended to pronounce on issues of interpretation of the constitution can be politically gamed in the way you describe.
I'm not sure it is a mistake to require supermajorities to fill the Constitutional Court, but this allows the PP to, to use US terminology, filibuster the appointments. As the PP has been in teabagger mode since they lost the elections in 2004, and in 2008 they even increased their representation in the Parliament, the dealock will continue until the next elections.

In any case, here are the rules set out in the Constitution:

La Constitución Española de 1978The Spanish Constitution of 1978
El Tribunal Constitucional se compone de 12 miembros nombrados por el Rey; de ellos, cuatro a propuesta del Congreso por mayoría de tres quintos de sus miembros; cuatro a propuesta del Senado, con idéntica mayoría; dos a propuesta del Gobierno y dos a propuesta del Consejo General del Poder Judicial.The Constitutional Court is made up of 12 members appointed by the King; of them, four at the proposal of the Congress [Lower House of Parliament] by a 3/5 majority or its members; four at the proposal of the Senate, by identical majority; two at the proposal of the Government and two at the proposal of the General Council of the Judiciary.
......
Los miembros del Tribunal Constitucional serán designados por un periodo de nueve años y se renovaran por terceras partes cada tres.The members of the Constitutional Court shall be designated for a period of 9 years and renewed by thirds [4 at a time] every 3 [years].

Requiring a supermajority makes sense in a court designed to rule on constitutionality issues - after all, you don't want a bare majority of the Parliament, likely supported by less than 40% of the popular vote, to stack the court. But this means a blocking minority is 141 seats out of the Congress' 350, which the PP exceeded in 2004 and again in 2008. In the Senate, given the demographics and the non-proportional character of the Senate, the PP has a chronic plurality, even when they are in opposition. Currently they have 126 out of 264 seats in the Senate (where a blocking minority for appointments would be 106 - the PSOE has 105).

With the current degree of political polarization and the PP believing since 2004 that the PSOE government is illegitimate, there is really no hope to break this gridlock unless the PP is beaten back at the polls to where they don't have a blocking minority, or the PP wins a general election.

In the meantime, I'm sure another group of 4 Constitutional Court magistrates will be up for nomination soon...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 06:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the anti-catalan feeling is summarised in the third quoted paragraph of the original editorial.
There is an increasing weariness over having to stand the angry look of those who continue to perceive the Catalan identity (its institutions, economic structure, language and cultural tradition) as a fault which prevents Spain from attaining a dreamed and impossible uniformity.
This is a jab against the Centralist Nationalists' myth of a unitary Spain without diverse national identities.
Catalans pay their taxes
Catalonia is a net contributor to the Spanish state
(without historical privileges);
I translated forales by historical which is a stretch but there was no way to do otherwise without inserting the long explanation which now follows.

In Spain fueros (I believe this may come from the Latin foedus) was the old name for a Royal Charter, given to newly incorporated towns, or to entire regions. The only surviving fuero is the one for Navarra, which is why the Autonomous Community of Navarra is actually called 'Foral Community of Navarra' and Navarra's 'historical rights' are mentioned in the appendix (transitory provisions) of the Spanish Constitution. As an aside, the only other notable use of fuero is in the Fuero de los Españoles, a sort of Charter of Fundamental Rights enacted by Franco in 1945 - here fuero as Charter is like the Carta in Carta Magna.

Anyway, the Basque Country used to have a fuero but it had been abolished. However, the Basque Autonomy Statute is inspired in the old fuero. As a result of this the Basque Statute has a different fiscal arrangement to all the other Autonomous Communities. This is what the editorial complains about when they say "Catalans pay their taxes without 'foral' privileges".

they contribute with their effort to the transfer of income to the poorest parts of Spain;
This is a common debate - the poorest regions of Spain are Andalusia and Extremadura. It is a common trope for Catalans to remind everyone that they are subsidising Estremadura with their taxes. This doesn't go down very well in those parts. Meanwhile, Andalusia has been complaining about a "historical debt" that Spain owes it, so if Andalusia is being subsidised by the wealthier parts of Spain this would be in payment of that debt. Or something - the point in each case is to propagate a myth of victimisation.
they face economic internationalization without the many benefits of hosting the State capital;
Madrid being the capital is both a blessing and a curse, and Barcelona envies the blessing without thinking they'd be cursed. People have been talking about giving Madrid a special status through a "Capital City Law" to address a number of problems but this never happens. Anyway, in this bag I should throw the football rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Supposedly Franco favoured Real Madrid and this continues to this day, despite the fact that Zapatero (being from Valladolid of all places) is a fan of Barcelona. Anyway, lately the President of FC Barcelona has managed to elevate himself to political leader, making well-received (?) political speeches about Catalonian independence. I kid you not. No wonder they say "Barça is more than just a club" - soon it might even become a political party :-P
they speak a language with more demographic weight than many official languages of the EU
true, Catalonia proper has about 6 million people, and the Catalan language is spoken by about 10 million people. However, Catalans have engaged in their own brand of linguistic imperialism and linguistic politics within the Catalan language family is a bit thorny. In Valencia, Catalonia's neighbour to the South, they call the language Valencian in an effort to escape Catalan cultural imperialism, and it is, of all political parties, the PP which most strongly protects this distinction between Catalan and Valencian. You would thing a party which nationally so strongly objects to Basque and Catalan would also object to Galician and Valencian and Majorcan but no, as Galicia and Valencia are PP electoral strongholds (or 'granaries of votes' as we say in Spain), the PP happily uses the Galician and Valencian languages (often bastardised as older PP politicians tended not to be very good at their local languages). Anyway, I won't go into more details of this, but suffice to say that the level of political silliness around the Catalan languages is quite high.
a language which, instead of being loved, is so often subject to obsessive scrutiny by the official Spanish nationalism
Bah, humbug. The real problem here is not the "official Nationalism" but the unofficial one. Ordinary Spaniards have a veritable mental block when it comes to Catalan and seem unable to function in the bilingual environment of Catalonia, where Catalans will, among themselves, hold bilingual conversations with some participants switching back and forth. So, the natural reaction of a Catalan speaker to being addressed in Spanish is to reply in Catalan as that would be socially acceptable among Catalans. But if the Spanish speaker is not Catalan but from elsewhere in Spain, they will think the Catalan speaker is being deliberately rude and "doesn't want to speak Spanish" where the proper reaction would be to politely say that you don't understand Catalan at which point the Catalan speaker will switch to Spanish (unless he's having a bad day in which case there will be rudeness all around).

In this connection, the Spain's Director General for Film, former MEP Ignasi Guardans, who is a Catalan wpeaker and used to be a member of the Nationalist party CiU, recently said that "people will rather see a film in Farsi than in Catalan" (well, he did say 'in Iranian' but we'll forgive him that). And I have to say I have seen films in both Farsi and in Catalan (with subtitles) and that once, given the choice between watching a Catalan film in the original version or dubbed to Spanish by the actors themselves, I chose the Catalan original, I would have to agree with Guardans - a film in Catalan will be seen by fewer people in Spain than a film in Farsi. He argues it is more important for encouraging the Catalan film industry to get films produced in Catalonia than to worry about whether American films are dubbed to Catalan (which is what Catalan politicians care about - and this is the kind of opinion that led to him being sidelined by CiU as an MEP candidate),

and they uphold the laws, of course, without giving up their peaceful and proven ability to withstand with civility.
We're not terraists like those Basques, we.
These days, Catalans think, above all, of their dignity; this should be known.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 04:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, there is a Capital City Law for Madrid since 2006. (in Spanish)

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 05:16:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who votes for these people?

Though I guess you answered it already:

European Tribune - Comments - Things coming to a head in Catalonia

a large proportion of the Spanish population is deeply and unseemingly anti-Catalan, which I find remarkable and ultimately incomprehensible.

Thanks for the inside scoop. Will await developments, eagerly and somewhat in trepidation...

by Nomad on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 07:18:49 AM EST
The best answer is the famous quip España y yo somos así, señora (Madam, Spain and I are like that).

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 08:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am convinced that voting is not ideological but sociological.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 08:25:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm....

Is there a difference to go along with that distinction?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 02:16:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad asked "who votes for these people?"

People vote for "us", regardless of whether they actually agree on anything much ideologically.

To a large number of people in Spain, the PP is the only party standing up for "us" against those pesky "them" out there in Catalonia.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 03:25:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess where I was going was to suggest that the voting is in all cases sociological, whether it be along ideological lines, personal interest or according to traditional prejudices.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 04:05:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, rephrase: voting is not ideological but tribal.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 04:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After I saw that, I went away to do my other Saturday stuff and thought about it, and no, tribal is not the right word either.

They are voting nationalist, in the strict sense of nation:

Nation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A nation is a body of people who share a real or imagined common history, culture, language or ethnic origin.[1]

If I'm reading you correctly, the conservatives have two beefs with the Catalans: the Catalans are not Spanish (i.e. belonging to the Spanish "nation"), and the Catalans refuse to identify as Spanish. Nice Catch-22, that.

To the extent that a constitution embodies the shared governing principles of a nation, it would seem to me that you have a constitutional crisis that goes deeper than the political sleaze.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 01:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, the political sleaze is symptomatic of the constitutional crisis, not a constitutional crisis in itself.

The Catch-22 you mention manifests itself in that, as I mentioned in the diary, the PP can both claim that Catalonia is Spain (therefore, independence would not be entertained) and that Catalans are foreign (therefore, they can't be trusted).

"Spanish Nationalist Centralist" is my ideological description of this group. Most of them are in the PP but there is a substantial minority in the PSOE, too (the PSOE being majoritarily "Spanish Federalist"). The other ideological strands within the PP are "Economic Neoliberalism" and "National Catholicism".

Interestingly, the President of the Congreso, PSOE 'baron' José Bono is both a "Spanish Nationalist Centralist" and a "National Catholic", though economically he's relatively to the left and sociologically he belongs to the PSOE patronage network rather than the PP patronage network in his native region of Castilla-La Mancha (where he was regional President for many years). In ZP's first term he was Minister of Defence and in this term he's a leading voice within the PSOE opposing from a Catholic perspective the latest proposals for liberalizing reform of Abortion laws.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 02:51:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Catch-22 you mention manifests itself in that, as I mentioned in the diary, the PP can both claim that Catalonia is Spain (therefore, independence would not be entertained) and that Catalans are foreign (therefore, they can't be trusted).

This smacks of a narrative of domination and subjugation vs. resistance which is not without its basis in historical events. Aragon seems never really to have been properly integrated into Spain any more than Quebec has been well integrated into Anglophone Canada or Ireland was ever integrated into Great Britain. Treaties and superior force don't equal acceptance and assimilation. Am I correct that the most vehement critics of federal status for Catalonia are the authoritarians who are heirs of the royalists and of Franco?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 04:42:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody actually talks openly about "federal status for Catalonia". Not the federalist wing of the PSOE, not the Catalans (nationalist or not), not the "monarchists and traditionalists" you talk about.

This is all at a more fundamental level. The PP has even challenged the draft reformed Autonomy Statute for Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha while spearheading the reform of the Valencia Autonoomy Statute (in Valencia they are in power).

If the Catalan Statute fails in the Constitutional Court, this will leave the Andalusian one as the one with the highest level of devolved power and therefore the "model" for the rest. Also, (El Pais in Spanish) the PSOE appears to be threatening with passing the Statute of Castilla-La Mancha in the national Parliament with the votes of the Catalan and Basque nationalists and the opposition of the PP.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 03:33:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This smacks of a narrative of domination and subjugation vs. resistance which is not without its basis in historical events.
Well, the Catalan national myth is indeed one of resistance and sbjugation based on historical events. See Wikipedia:
On September 11, Catalonia (Spain) commemorates the 1714 Siege of Barcelona defeat during the War of the Spanish Succession. As a punishment for their support to the claim of Habsburg Archduke Charles to the throne of Spain, institutions and rights of the territories of the Crown of Catalonia and Aragon were abolished by the victorious absolutist Bourbon monarchy in line with the political evolution occurring in other parts of Europe at the same time.

In 1980, the restored Generalitat de Catalunya (autonomous Government of Catalonia), as its first public act proclaimed 11 September La Diada, the Catalan National holiday.

Organizations and political parties traditionally lay floral offerings at the monuments of Rafael Casanova and General Moragues for their fight against the Bourbon army.

Never mind that Barcelona was hung out to dry by the Habsburgs. Apparently they resisted to the point of a Siege because the Archduke never bothered to tell them he had made a deal with the Bourbon pretender behind their back...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 03:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he wouldn't want to undermine their morale!

This whole episode does explain why the U.K. found it relatively easy to hold the Balearic Islands for so long, (aside from the British Fleet), and why Catalan nationalist sentiment was a card they could and did play in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 11:09:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aragon seems never really to have been properly integrated into Spain any more than Quebec has been well integrated into Anglophone Canada or Ireland was ever integrated into Great Britain. Treaties and superior force don't equal acceptance and assimilation.
Now, now, hold it right there with the historical parallels...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 03:42:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, now, hold it right there with the historical parallels...

Quite right.  As we know, history is a non-euclidean space and there are never proper parallels. We must remain proper nominalists and never attempt comparisons.  Oh, those odious "Compare and Contrast" essay questions in college.    


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 11:20:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Things coming to a head in Catalonia
Would Catalonia really consider independence?

If they do, will they apply for EU membership? Would Spain block it?

Given the animosity, would there be risk for armed confrontation?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 03:47:35 PM EST


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