Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Sunday, 17 september 2017 | EDITORIAL

English

One last chance for Spain in Catalonia


Any doubts about the Catalans´continued resolve to have a say in their collective future should have been dispelled by the September 11 demonstration in Barcelona. Year after year hundreds of thousands have come out to claim the right to decide their nation's political status, and their elected representatives have been working to give them that chance. To this end, a referendum on independence has been announced for October 1st. Today all indications are that the vote may take place, in the face of Spanish opposition and despite all efforts to prevent it.
 
Ideally, this should have been an officially-sanctioned and legally-binding vote, like the ones held in Quebec and Scotland, and many international observers still fail to understand the Spanish government's intransigent stance. Allowing a referendum, getting involved in its preparation and campaigning against independence would seem the reasonable, and perhaps most productive, course of action. Catalan President Puigdemont has repeatedly declared his government´s readiness to reach a compromise on the terms that would make that possible, including an alternative date and an agreed-upon question.

There's still room for maneuver. A change of strategy in Madrid, as has been suggested by third parties, is not likely this late in the game, but it could be the least costly option, if only because the state's authorities will find it very hard to thwart the Catalans' plan without resorting to coercive methods that would turn out to be self-defeating.
 
Most Catalans hope that, in spite of all the foreseeable difficulties, October 1st will be a peaceful voting day, either because the Spanish government has lifted its opposition or because they have chosen to ignore it. One thing is certain. They will come out in force to vote. Whether or not they actually cast their ballots will depend on how far the Spanish government is ready to go to stop them. Foul play can't be ruled out, but it wouldn't be in the state's long-term interest to go down that road. Forceful measures, even under the cloak of legality, could disrupt the vote, but they would also give Catalans a good reason to choose the fast lane to independence. Either way, they win: if holding a referendum is an act of democracy, doing it against the will of the state is an act of sovereignty.
 
No matter how things turn out, the terms of the political debate in Spain will be defined by the events of October 1st. By the simple act of going to the polls, Catalans will have asserted their collective rights as a people. By denying them those rights, the Spanish government may have put itself in an untenable position: unwilling to compromise but incapable of imposing its power in the long run. Ironically, by trying to stop democracy it may have made sovereignty a real option.


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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

We aim to be recognized as a trustworthy source of information and ideas about Catalonia from a Catalan point of view.
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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia