THE SECESSIONISM OF CATALONIA: Casting Votes in Cardboard Boxes

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The central and the Catalan governments must act with extreme caution,
a massive dosage of political prudence, and all the possible
goodwill they could muster, instead of going on and
on with the game of brinksmanship

Blog by a GUIDEPOST user
Raymond Farrows

 In the wake of the consulta alternative 9-N, a proxy referendum any way one looked at it, there’s more confusion than ever, more bad feelings on both sides of the Catalonia issue than the day before. 2,305,290 Catalans, and non-Catalans residing legally in Catalonia, aged16 years and above, voted on the 9th of November to answer the two-part question of “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” and if so “Do you want that state to be independent?”

80% of the voters said “Yes” and “Yes”, 10% voted “Yes” but “No”, and 4.5% voted an unequivocal double “No”.

More than 1, 300 “polling places” where people cast their votes in cardboard boxes were manned by thousands of volunteers since nothing in this “referendum” could be official.

The 9-N voter turn-out was roughly one-third of the Catalonia electorate as defined by the 9-N rules. (The National Institute of Statistics counted 6.2 million people in that electorate.) Not bad considering that the people had had to defy not one but two court rulings in order to vote. Predictably, the president of the Generalitat de Catalunya (the regional Government of Catalonia) Artur Mas, who spearheaded the consulta alternative – literally “alternative (pubic) consultation” – would claim that it was a “total success.”

The secessionist Catalans – rather, all the Catalans who participated in the consulta – voted in an inconducive environment; last September the Constitutional Court of Spain suspended the preparations for and the actual holding of the referendum, thus making it a crime to go ahead with it. In fact, state prosecutors are looking into the possibility of charging some Catalan leaders with civil disobedience, breach of trust, and embezzlement of public funds for holding the proxy referendum.

However, there is probably room for legal debate here; whereas a secessionist referendum is inconstitutional – and Catalonia, being part of Spain, must uphold the Constitution – what came to pass on 9-N was an alternative to a referendum and the organizers insist that it was simply a way of giving the Catalans the opportunity to say whether they want the region to be independent from Spain or not. Whatever the result of the consulta would have no legal effect. Hence, they were not breaking any law.

The prosecutors have a maximum of six months to assemble a case if it is warranted.

Meanwhile it is utterly clear that the central and the Catalan governments must now act with extreme caution, a massive dosage of political prudence, and all the possible goodwill they could muster, instead of going on and on with the game of brinksmanship that both have been playing these many past months. Spain and Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, need each other historically, emotionally, economically and for synergistic reasons. They can’t afford to lose each other. The loss will be far greater than the sum total of all their failures to listen to what one is really saying to the other.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been downplaying the “total success” of the secessionists, saying that two thirds of the Catalan electorate did not bother to heed the call to the proxy referendum which was a “deep failure”, a “farce” and “anti-democratic.” And Artur Mas, flushed with the “success” of 9-N, has declared that the next one will be an honest-to-goodness referendum and soon.

They should pull back before they do irreparable damage to poor old marvelous Spain.