Catalan Independence? Democracy dies in Spain.

As I sit at my laptop this sunday night I am trying to reflect on where we are.

Firstly I think it's very clear that the independence movement has had a defeat, it occurred on four levels.

The first is that Spain, and the idea of the one indivisible country, hit out at the attempted vote on 1 Oct, and hit hard enough to show that certain underlying thoughts and ideas hadn't changed at all. Spain historically has imposed its ideas wherever it has gone, but little by little has lost control of all of those places, except in the Basque Country and Catalonia. To all of the situations it applied force to retain its control and in this case it applied just enough to stun the Catalans who had believed that the state had evolved sufficiently democratically to hear their voice, and just little enough to allow Europe to say nothing.
That liberal progressive Spain, the thinkers and defenders of the rights of the individual have simply shut up, indicates that they too are happy to support the concept of the One Spain rather than a plural or federal Spain. That or they were afraid to open their mouths in fear of a backlash from the Spanish nationalists.

That Europe said nothing is the second level and the Catalan leaders especially, counted on the fact that the EU would say enough to mediate. The Catalans felt let down when Europe led by Juncker said effectively that they were letting Spain do what they wanted in return for a solid support in Europe. The feeling of being thrown to the wolves was palpable.
The fact that Catalunya has garnered a certain sympathy abroad is gratifying but not enough so far to make a difference.

Thirdly the delegation of a political problem into the arena of the judicial cut the leadership away from the independence movement. The Spanish judiciary still has an element that is politically biased, and that element took control of the judicial process. Putting the leaders of the movement in jail, or driving them into exile, although legally dubiously justifiable has been effective in leaving the Catalan independence parties running in circles trying to find a way ahead.

Fourthly, and partially as a result of the above, the Catalan leadership has not been at the level that was required. From the misplaced faith in the EU through the mishandling of the aftermath of 1Oct to the current dog eat dog infighting they have let the movement down badly.
Puigdemont especially is trying to direct the movement from afar, listening only to those who support him. He wants the Spanish to hit hard so he can go to the European Courts to show Spain up. Though what practical effect that will have I have serious doubts.
It means that Torra is still trying to play a hard line with Spain, while successfully, so far, avoiding disobedience. ERC also want to show that they are not giving in, though they are more for a regroup and try to gain more support for the movement rather than directly confront.
This lead to a policy of try to gain a concession from Sanchez while negotiating. The Catalans didn't reject the talks as @exbleep seems to say, they want them to continue. However they dillied and dallied just a bit too long over the figure of the 'redactor' and other things and Sanchez under pressure from the Right broke off talks.
Now they have the choice of refusing to support the budget, a favourable one for Catalunya, or throw Sanchez onto his luck in the elections. If he wins we get a breathing space, if he loses we get 155 and the return of a pseudo-franquism.

This is a very brief resume of a long thought process, but in the short term the independence movement should vote for the budget, ditch Puigdemont and regroup for a push further down the line.
Meanwhile Spain returns to a traditional way of thinking, and those who have other ideas shut up.
 
Finally the judicial process against the prisoners starts this week. What effect it may have is to be seen. Many here see the process as a foregone conclusion.
That rebellion and violence form a key part of the case and in other countries would not stand up remains to be seen here.
Will it be a fair process or a simple case of punishing those who dared challenge the idea of the One Spain?

Independence won't happen soon, that is clear enough, but Spain is laying the foundations for the next round in these trials, whether it be now or in twenty years. They should be very aware of that.

There is still a large pro-independence groundswell, that it hasn't grown much doesn't mean it has shrunk, and that the younger generation will be more pro-independence is almost certain. Spain can't ignore this forever, Sanchez is right the Catalans need to vote at some point or it will not go away, just underground.
For all that the Casado-Vox-C's-Aznar-Gonzalez voices encourage a 155 type solution, all it will do is create a bigger underground pro-independence feeling which will resurface somewhere down the line. The feeling of being a colony persists.
The 155 solution is pandering to a certain type for short-term votes, when we have had an opportunity to solve the problem right now. yet even Sanchez has said he could not and would never authorise a referendum. So if all of Spain thinks that way what is Catalunya? A province? A colony? What?

In twenty years if there is a groundswell of 60-70% support for independence what then where will Spain's democratic credentials lie? Because that is what they seem to be creating from here.

Ed to add a bit.
 
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Well the trial started today. And the big thing is that Spain and not only its judicial system but also its democracy is now in the international spotlight again.
Yet from the positioning of the trial I get the feeling that if there is no prison sentences passed then there will be a lot of credibility lost among the Spanish who want the unity confirmed and punishment meted out.

A couple of points:

Rivera is crowing that the coup d'etaters are getting tried. Casado is going for votes by saying that the PP are responsible for getting them on trial. The corollory is that they are guilty and hence need to be imprisoned with the pressure on the judges.

One thing that struck me was that while international observers are not wanted because supposedly it is being televised the Spanish tv channels did not carry the trial. So the Spanish will have to rely on newspapers and perhaps tv roundups. Catalan tv does carry it.
One German observer complained that her requests were being ignored.

El Mundo headlines with Junqueras lays down a hard line against the TC and has a go at Torra. Interesting as only his lawyer spoke today and didn't mention Torra.
El Pais, the defences launch a political defence. Not actually true, they are questioning the political aspects of the trial.

Meanwhile the Government has been at pains to stress internationally and nationally to prepare for disinformation disseminated by the independentistes. Sounds like they are worried about what might come out and taking steps already. The pants on fire position seems to have been adopted.

Meanwhile one defence lawyer challenged some of the judges impartiality by referring to various tweets that declared their pre-beliefs in the guilt of the prisoners. It did raise questions as to the selection process, especially the chairman.


Ah well, press wifi cover ends in the end of March so that's an indicator of when they envisage and ending.
 
So how would the Scottish Independence Referendum have gone if all in the UK could have voted?

'Tens of thousands of people waving Spain's red-and-yellow flag have demonstrated in Madrid to oppose any concessions by the government to Catalan pro-independence parties and to call for early elections. Demonstrators chanting "Spain! Spain!" and "we want to vote!" filled the Plaza de Colon in the city centre on Sunday in the largest protest socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has faced in eight months in office.

'The opposition centre-right and far-right parties called the rally, seeking to make a show of force against Sanchez by capitalising on anger with Catalonia's separatist leaders and the government's efforts to establish a dialogue with them. Around 45,000 people attended, officials said.'

Madrid protesters reject Catalonia policy
As an addendum to that, the figure of 45,000 was seen as a failure when you consider that three political parties had organised the rally. It actually had the opposite effect intended and gave a breathing space to Sanchez because the turnout was nothing like what they had hoped for.
 
Well @Dwarf , he's done it. General Election called for the end of April.
Considering the the poor showing of the left in the Andalusia elections then Sanchez could be out and another right wing coalition could take over again.
Not only will this affect Catalonia but could have repercussions on health service again as it was the PP who stopped cover for all and Sanchez who reintroduced it.
Could be interesting seeing the way this thing goes.
 
I've had a weekend with no internet as Missus is changing company. Plus I took the day yesterday to have time in Barcelona tracking down beer kit shops (not that easy) which involved visiting a few micro breweries and trying a few interesting brews. Then I joined the demo in support of the prisoners. Interestingly we got 200k according to Guardia Urbana which is between four and five times what the three right parties got the previous weekend.

So as to Sanchez it looks to have been a carefully considered tactic and he was laying the ground for a few days before, and the right wing meeting seems to have been the final spark.

The right wing were putting him under a lot of pressure about letting the independendistes have their way, and thereby putting the country in their hands. So the figure of the notary was introduced, a figure which previous governments have used in talks with the Basques. Then even figures within his own party kicked up about it which I think finally decided him.

The independence parties were using the tactic of stretching the negotiations to the limit to try to squeeze more out of it and stretched just too far. Sanchez now has backed out saying he tried to find a political solution, which at least on the face of it is correct.

Yet looking at the latest polls out today (sunday) he seems to be on the track that the majority actually want a dialogue solution. And he has been astute, Podemos is losing ground and will only have a say in things because they will lend weight to PSOE. Because the PP especially have moved right then Sanchez is occupying the middle ground which is a huge factor in winning elections.

He looks likely to have the biggest party but that means he will have to have a coalition for every measure he wants to pass. This allows the Right to continue howling about him getting into bed with the independence parties. Yet with a projected margin of three seats he will likely need all of those votes. Not an easy situation.
 
Meanwhile the opposition parties instead of trying to find a political/social project for the country simply raise the tone about betraying Spain and that effectively will be their only iron in the fire. "Vote for me and we stop the dastardly independentistes who want to break Spain, and that horrible Sanchez who wants to let them."

PP's Casado is following his mentor Aznar who wanted to turn the clock back and recentralise. In trying to prevent a loss of votes to Vox and the extreme right he himself has gone to extremes. Sanchez is a traitor, a betrayer of the Nation, and he is allowing the policies of ETA to be on the table.

Even that last one backfired when one of the leaders of the Association of Victims came out and said that not only was that rubbish but that he is disrespecful to all the victims of ETA by doing so. One of his other clear policies is to return the abortion law to a more restrictive version and is opposed by 66% of the population. His first and biggest promise is to apply 155 again as soon as he is in power. I listen and all I can see and hear are histrionics a la Goebbels. Yet his party is slipping in the polls, by trying to regain the far right he is losing the centre and relegating his party to third biggest.

Meanwhile Rivera of Cs instead of easing up and going for the centre seems to be also playing the patriotic nationalist card. Indicating the Spanish flag he says it stands for democracy, equality and justice. Fine, but just ask people here, in the Basque Country and pretty much all of the old colonies and see what they say, to me it stands for the opposite.
 
The Independence parties have been caught on the hop, and will find it difficult to react well. ERC seems to be the best placed to gain from this while PDeCat slips a bit.

Yet I can't see a coherent policy in place. Torra keeps on demanding a referendum which in this atmosphere is just not going to happen. The other parties seem to not have much of an igloo where to go, especially after Sanchez cut the ground from under them. One good piece of news is that ERC seem to be developing a capable leader in young Aragones. About time.



So if the Right parties get in they will apply measures that as Sanchez says "Will take us back 40 years". A restrictive 155 in Catalunya which will be bad not only for us but by corollory Spain as well. Plus the mentality of the right, "You must think and believe and act as we do otherwise we will force you to conform", is taking over in many people's minds which is a subversion of the democratic ideal. Yet all that will do is to swell the undercurrent of independentism and perhaps help get to a definite social majority. But the right will be happy not to solve the problem but to sit on it and hope it suffocates.

What if Sanchez gets in? He will need a coalition government which means that the situation will be more or less the same as now. But the Independence parties can't press for something he has stated he won't give. We need to change track, but out of touch Puigdemont will not be too happy to do so. ERC will be, so perhaps the next stage would be to have Catalan elections, it has been mooted, so then we can clear the decks and redesign strategy. But Sanchez offered a deal that would have helped Catalunya, would he be so helpful in a next round?


I wouldn't say interesting days are ahead. A friend of mine put it this way, "dark days are ahead for Catalunya, it just remains to be seen how dark."
 
Interestingly a poll shows that 52% of people in Spain think that the way to solve the problem with Catalunya is via dialogue.
40% think that the preventive prison for the prisoners is justified on charges of violence while 45% disagree. Mind 58% are against any form of pardon.

Partly this appears to show that a lot of people are getting weary of all the running around in circles. A genuine dialogue would gain a great deal of support from all sides provided that there was a real chance of some form of a solution.

Meanwhile it does mean that the nationalist parties in Spain have to raise the tone to keep interest from waning as well as to gain the battle for the right wing votes and one cannot deny that Casado is managing to do so. In a meeting he says that the choice is between confrontation or peaceful coexistence. Yet he wants to apply the confrontation, but as he says "155 is not repression it is freedom".
Everything he says about Catalunya turns reality on its head.

Meanwhile Rivera has promised that he won't make a pact with Sanchez after the elections. This way he avoids any accusation of allowing the independentistes of getting their way.
Yet as pointed out by a PSOE spokesman "he can't deal with social democrats but he finds it easy to ally with the extreme right."

It does look very like a three way pact between PP Cs and Vox with the infighting to see who gets the biggest share of the right wing vote.
Abstention may be the key to the elections.
The right wing rhetoric flies in the face of the majority who would prefer dialogue, so if people get out and vote moderation wins, if not we get a retrograde government.
 
Meanwhile after a meeting with Puigdemont in Brussels Torra and later Puigdemot both gave speeches in which they stated that the referendum was not negotiable.
If anything is likely to gain votes for the right it is precisely that posture. Now is the time for a low profile and wait to see who we get in Madrid.
But the two of them seem bent on another round of confrontation.
Not a way to gain adepts in Catalunya where they have their die-hards but are losing the trust of a fair segment of thinking independentistes.
 
Well the trial has been under way for a while.

Last week the accused took the stand and the Prosecution was hell bent on proving violence but it looked difficult to make it stick. They answered well and the Prosecution seemingly came off second best.

This week key figures have declared, I saw a bit of Soraya yesterday and she, especially from the body posture, lied her bloody head off and evaded as much as she could.
Basically her reply to the violence was that it existed, and if they hadn't had to send the police in it wouldn't have happened.

However what worries me is that while it takes a prominent place on Catalan TV with live broadcasts allowing people to make up their own minds as to the veracity of the questions and answers and the abilities of the respective parts the same is not true of the rest of Spain.
It appears that there are round ups, and the newspapers give their slant. However looking at the Madrid press I wonder if they are watching the same trial. Very partial indeed. (OK a couple of Catalan papers are the same, but not all.)

Now we will have a stream of policemen bigging up the violence. Oh Dear.
 
Last week in the trial I saw some textbook examples of moral cowardice, and none bigger than that of ex-Interior Minister Zoido.
Both Mariano and Soraya were there not so much as to testify as to justify their actions claiming that there was violence present. There was a great deal of evasion, and "I don't recall", so much so that the joke was running round here;
"Señor Rajoy you were president of the Government at the time"
"Possibly, maybe, I can't recall."

Both denied knowledge and responsibility for the actions of 1 Oct claiming that they only knew in general terms that the police would act.
That meetings took place they could not deny but did deny knowing what was going to happen.

Essentially the blame was placed on the people for going out to vote and being there to be hit.

Interestingly while Rajoy blamed the fracas of failed negotiations on Puigdemont, Urkullu places it mainly on him.

But Zoido passed the buck to his I/C Police claiming that while there were meetings he had no real knowledge of the tactical plans and denied responsibility for what took place.
So either he is massively incompetent or a total liar, either way he is placing the responsibility firmly on De Los Cobos and it will be interesting to hear his testimony and see if he takes one for the team.

While Zoido also tried to imply violence and that the Mossos were arming having indented for assault rifles and 5m rounds the Generalitat Minister of the Interior showed that it was in fact approved by Zoido himself as a response to terrorism.

There is a history of politicians refusing to accept responsibility for their actions in Spain but that so far has been classic.
 
From the Punt Avui which is very pro-Independence but this is a reasonably fair editorial. The passion is in the first paragraphs but they have it about right for the trial so far.



The testimony of the principal people responsible in the Spanish government involved in the crisis of state regarding the 1-Oct in Catalonia established with clarity that they did not go to the trial to shed light, nor to tell the truth about the events in question, but rather to ratify the narrative of the prosecution.

This including the inconsistencies, misrepresentations and absence of evidence that demonstrates how sedition could be made with carnations, musical performances, a peaceful crowd, shops open and an open corridor for the police and judicial committee. Or how to make a rebellion without arms, without insurrection, without violence, with ballot boxes and with an attempt to dialogue until the last moment.

It is surprising that President Rajoy did not even remember if he spoke with Lehendakari Urkullu, when he called him to arrange a meeting with the sole purpose of using his mediation in the most important crisis in the state in decades. Surprisingly, Vice President Sáenz de Santamaría, a commission commissioner for the Catalan issue, denounces violence and can not specify anything beyond what "everyone" saw on television. Surprisingly, Zoido, Interior Minister, did not know who ordered the police charges of 1-O, nor who ordered them to stop them, did not know the limits of the court order or talk of "weapons of war "referring to the Mossos.

Adhering to the prosecutor's report without providing facts or specific data that support it, added to the unexpected amount of "I do not know", "I do not remember" or "I do not know" of the top government officials of those days to the questions of Defence, not only devalue them as witnesses,it also calls into question their respect for the trial taking place in the Supreme and their commitment to the rule of law in Spain.
 
Today we had the testimony of Enric Milla (a Catalan) who was the government representative in Catalunya for the PP government.
His testimony was a farage of exaggerations and retelling of the truth when compared to televised evidence of him saying either the opposite or very different things. He was obviously reading from the same script as the other major characters even down to a few set phrases. The reiterated use of the word violence especially.
That there was violence apparently was 'evident' and I lost count of the times he used this expression, without being able to be specific about occasions.
Back to the 'everybody knows' testimony then.

He mentioned talking to police after the event who showed him evidence of violence such as a torn jacket and policemen talking about the things that happened to them.
One I didn't know about was the fairy trick, where you cover the floor of the doorway with washing up liquid so the policeman entering, slips, falls and receives a kick in the head. Wow! Where did that come from? If the violence had been organised that would have gone the rounds, along with a lot of other stuff and there was no hint of it at all.

The police were professional, the violence proportional and the fault of it all was Puigdemont's and the people for being on the street without which the violence would not have happened. The Mossos despite closing down more voting stations without a single person hurt were derelict in their duties.

Unfortunately he was protected to a large degree by the Judge who didn't allow the defence leeway to really get to grips. For the first time he disappointed me.
 
Yesterday No.2 in the Interior and today De Los Cobos were on the stand and the story was the same.
Violence in the street, professional police who acted with proportional force to achieve their aims.
Mossos were derelict in their duties.

There was a political cartoon that put it into context.

L'us de la força per part de La Guardia Civil i la Policia va ser 'el minim imprescindible'.
The use of force by the GC and NP was the minimum necessary.

Imprescindible per a que?
Necessary to do what?

Per deixar clar qui te el poder.
To show clearly who has the power

Guanyareu pero no convencereu.
You will win but you won't convince. (used here as win over, or make believe)
 
One thing that I notice, and have mentioned is the Madrid Press coverage as being on a different planet and following the PP storyline.

Even El Pais who I would have thought to have been a bit more impartial. After Urkullu testified that Rajoy was largely to blame for the non communication they headlined with Puigdemont was to blame.
Shameful for such a newspaper.


Urkullu has let it be known that he has deposited in three different archives his records of the events of those days including mails and the like. To be published after the sentence has been handed down.

Not only should that prove interesting but I like his style.
 
Interestingly while all the politicians are busily denying responsibility for the Police charges a spokesman for the GC Union stated clearly that any decision for action had to have a political green light.

Clear as a bell.
 
Today De los Cobos, (I/C Police Op 1 Oct) re-iterated that there were no police charges on that day.
I don't know how this is sustainable given the independent news agencies such as the BBC captured it. But for him it was proportional response to a violent situation. In Spain this may well be accepted.

When the defence tried to get him to expalin what he meant by a charge the judge intervened and refused to let them follow that line. As they say, Spain is different.

Meanwhile another lady, well known as anti-independence and who worked in the building where the crowds gathered on 20 Sept for which the Jordi's have been jailed, gave her version.
This is one of the keys to demonstrating violence in the Process. She stated that she was scared, wanted a helio to be evacuated, in short a terrifying experience she said.
But then she stated to the prosecution that at night she heard a voice on a megaphone which she positively identified as Carme Forcadell egging on people. When the defence pointed out that Forcadell had been present for a short time only and that during the daytime she rushed to rectify saying that she had said that it only could have been. Very different from her staement a few minutes before.

To me it shows that the picture constructed of a violent situation has a lot of holes in it, but that will not stop it being accepted while in a reasonable, or perhaps better said a more normal, court it shouldn't be.
 
There were some lesser weighted testimonies today, like a couple of hotel owners who put up police for some days and who said that they had received a number of insulting phone calls threatening boycotts for having them there.

While unpleasant and possibly intimidating it's still a far cry from Dodge City or the Kale Borroka that is being painted.
 

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