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."

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